COVID-19 has put health front and center for many of us, but the reality is that our global warming pollution is a bigger threat to our health, even though we don’t often think about it. According to the 4th National Climate Assessment, the health and well-being of Americans, and people across the globe, are already affected by climate change, with the adverse health consequences projected to worsen with additional global warming. The climate crisis affects your health by altering exposures to heatwaves, floods, droughts, and other extreme events; vector-, food- and waterborne infectious diseases; changes in the quality and safety of air, food, and water; and stresses to mental health and well-being.

For this reason, CLEO decided to theme our 10th annual symposium around climate & health. With world-renown keynotes and expert panelists, we hope this symposium gave you the opportunity to listen to the experts on what is happening, how it’s impacting our health, and what we can do to protect ourselves and mitigate the climate crisis.  This virtual symposium was handled differently, inviting Jacee Gossett from The Class to help with zoom fatigue, providing interactive opportunities to ensure active learning, and with a call to action for a climate emergency declaration to get our municipalities to act on climate.

The CLEO Institute, in partnership with The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, was pleased to host its 10th annual Empowering Capable Climate Communicators Symposium virtually, welcoming over 550 guests from across the world, for a 3-day discussion on climate and health in November. 

Thursday, November 19th

Friday, November 20th

Saturday, November 21st

Breakout sessions can be viewed via our CLEO YouTube Channel.


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sumita Khatri,from the American Lung Association, shared the stories of her patients affected by the changed conditions brought on by the climate crisis. “People of color are 1.5 times more likely to live in a county that has a failing grade [in air quality],” she said, identifying that climate will affect different regions and demographics unequally. She also shared the trailer for the documentary Unbreathable: The Fight for Healthy Air.


Key takeaways from our panel moderated by a fellow in the American College of Physicians, Dr. Cheryl Holder :

  • Dr. Asim Jani, as an infectious disease expert, reviewed known connections between environmental changes and degradation and the increased risks of infectious diseases. He weighed in on diseases being less like linear cause-and-effect problems and more like complex non-linear systems that require interdisciplinary approaches.
  • Dr. Michael Campos talked about ground-level ozone as a risk to lung health, along with other problems like mold spores, dust mites, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), all of which become more common and severe as temperatures rise. Like cigarette smoke, the increased pollution from environmental damage has adverse effects on human lung health, leading to reduced quality of life and increased mortality.
  • Dr. Olveen Carrasquillo focused his talk on climate and health disparities, using research data to identify lower life expectancies among blacks and Latinos compared to whites. These disparities are caused by social determinants of health (housing, income, employment rates, etc.) which are also affected by climate change. He cited as a strong example of health inequities the case of post-Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico, which was devastated from mismanagement in its recovery and support efforts and the resulting disrupted health care systems.

Following our panel, we had one of our most powerful youth voices talk about climate action:


Climate, Health & Food Breakout 

Keynote: John W. Roulac – Executive Producer of Kiss the Ground. John discussed the challenges and solutions of soil restoration for sequestering carbon and restoring the environment. He cited opportunities in agriculture, economics, and policy to move away from harmful mechanical agriculture practices and the need to regenerate the natural world.

His keynote was followed by 3 breakout sessions focused on climate, health, and food with:

Clinicians Breakout: Climate, Weather & Clinical Practice 

Hosted by the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine with Dr. Naresh Kumar, & Dr. Mehdi S. Mirsaeidi 

FRIDAY, NOV. 20TH FROM 10:00AM – 1:00PM (EST)

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Katharine Hayhoe shared that, although there is American consensus that climate change is a problem to address, there is a tendency of Americans to believe that it will not affect their communities. The communities already at-risk for climate change are also at-risk from other systemic problems (including COVID-19), remarking, “Climate change is profoundly unfair”.

Following our keynote, we had a special announcement from Dr. CarriAyne Jones-Parr from the British Consulate-General, Atlanta. She discussed the UK’s commitments to fighting the climate crisis. She discussed the 10-point plan of the UK’s proposed Green Industrial Revolution to make transitions by 2030, including changes to energy, transportation, and infrastructure investment.


Key takeaways from our panel moderated by NBC6 Chief Meteorologist John Morales:

  • Dr. Timothy M. Hall commented on the unusual features of this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, including the number of storms and accumulated cyclone energy (ACE). He cited known concerns of more people living in hurricanes’ likely (possibly changing) storm paths, the changes in sea levels and temperatures, and increased intensity of storms.
  • Kathy Baughman McLeod discussed global heating and increasing heat dangers. She reported that heat dangers are the leading cause of death in the United States, advocating for the naming of heat waves just like hurricanes are.
  • Dr. Carissa Caban spoke about the mental health impacts climate change is already having. She shared methodology in dispatching psychological first aid and disaster relief in response to climate change-worsened events, and techniques and organizations in building communities’ resilience.
  • Dr. Naresh Kumar shared the long-term secondary health impacts of hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Michael. After a rigorous review of the complex research process, he reported post-storm increased community costs (in millions of dollars) from emergency room usage when local community clinics were unavailable due to storm issues, increased asthma and allergy problems, and even higher premature birth and infant mortality rates, all of which have remained underreported by regular data collection.

The Power of Communication with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and The CLEO Institute.

This session focused on the importance of talking about the climate crisis with others. Dr. Hayhoe provided tips on how to best communicate the science, impacts, and solutions, and emphasized the importance of finding common ground with people when talking about this issue.


Keynote Speaker: Dr. Mark Z. Jacobson talked about how to move to a renewable energy economy (primarily through wind, hydro, and solar power) as a solution to greenhouse gas emissions and the updating of transportation, heating/cooling systems, and industrial sectors. He provided examples of energy generation and storage technologies for use in an all-electricity infrastructure, including approaches to individual home conversion that saves money in the long run.


Key takeaways from our panel, moderated by the Director for SACE, Susan Glickman:

  • U.S. Congresswoman Donna Shalala broke down some of the risks South Florida faces today from climate change and the bi-partisan actions in motion towards restoration and mitigation. Her bipartisan experience in fighting the tobacco industry reflects similar strategies and difficulties in tackling climate change.
  • U.S. Congressman Francis Rooney shared concerns about the environmental damage South Florida has been dealing with as a result of climate change, as well as the steps and strides taken in addressing sea-level rise. He spoke to his involvement in spearheading the Republican Party’s shifts towards acting with environmental policies.
  • Ben Haley shared his researched blueprint to the decarbonization of the energy system, with the goal of putting atmospheric carbon dioxide levels back down to 350 ppm. With 2030 as the benchmark year for changing course on CO2 emissions, he cited the plan’s four pillars as electricity decarbonization, energy efficiency increases, electrification, and rational use of carbon capture.
  • Kevin J. Patel spoke to his experience working with youth and underserved communities’ involvement in voting and getting their voices heard in American intergenerational democracy. He cites the intersection of climate problems and their exacerbation of ongoing social injustices already worsening people’s lives today.

Become a Sponsor!

Look through our Climate & Health Sponsorship Packet

All sponsorships are tax-deductible, and all proceeds from this event go to help fund our climate education in Florida.

Translate »