Miami-Dade Students Re-enact Climate Change Negotiations In South Florida
Dozens of middle and high school students from Miami-Dade County participated in a mock United Nations event over the weekend at the Frost Museum of Science.
The event coincided with climate change negotiations in Paris.
At the beginning of the day-long workshop held on Saturday, the students were given a presentation of the scientific aspects of climate change issues around the world, with a focus on its effects in South Florida. Some of the issues that were discussed were sea-level rise and extreme weather.
Then the students were divided into groups to learn about the countries they were to represent and to begin negotiations.
Science curator Angela Colbert said the students came up with realistic and clever answers-- including a group representing Brazil. “They had a really interesting angle about their vast natural resources in the Amazon and it’s on how it’s not necessarily them alonereleasing all the carbon dioxide from the trees out into the atmosphere from deforestation. But it’s actually developed nations coming in and trying to really harvest those resources as well.”
Colbert added that she was excited to see how students put into perspective Brazil’s deforestation in the
Amazon. “I just personally hadn’t thought about Brazil as much as the U.S. and China and India.”
She also pointed out the group that represented the European Union.
"A lot of them were able to negotiate. For example, the group that was the European Union, they [were] the most aggressive out of the whole and they were going to stop the growth of carbon dioxide and emissions by the year 2025 and they think they can do that with Germany leading the way with their sort of renewable technologies. So they put that out there."
The purpose of the event was for the students to act out the negotiations and come up with a solution to have no more than a 2-degree Celsius temperature rise by the year 2100. This is the same goal that countries participating in the climate negotiations are attempting to achieve.
Within the mock-U.N. Summit, Colbert said that all of the students did a “really great job.” Unfortunately, she said, “they still didn’t quite make it to 2 degrees. They made it to 2.5, so they were so close.”
This event was part of a global study prepared by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and MIT to document students’ understanding of climate change, its challenges and potential solutions. As part of the research, “the kids actually had to take a pre-survey and a post-survey and that information is going to get put in and submitted,”said Colbert.