Sea level rise is as much a political issue as a scientific one. Philip Stoddard understands this well. He is both an FIU biologist and mayor of South Miami. For his work on issues related to sea level rise, he can also now add a member of Politico 50 to his list of titles.
The recognition comes from Politico Magazine, which pays tribute to the power of ideas and the people behind them. The annual, bipartisan list recognizes the key thinkers, doers and visionaries who are reshaping American politics in areas including campaigns, civil rights, criminal justice, economics, education, energy/climate, foreign affairs, health, law, media, political thought and technology. This year’s list recognizes Stoddard for his commitment to educating the public on sea level rise.
“As an academic, I write papers that are read, perhaps, by a few hundred people,” Stoddard said. “Albert Einstein rightly said ‘Those with the privilege to know have the duty to act.’ I am compelled to advance the popular understanding of today’s pressing scientific problems and to motivate concerned citizens to action.”
Stoddard is a zoologist who has dedicated his career to understanding the evolution of animal communication systems. He is currently serving his fourth term in office as the South Miami mayor. Last year, Stoddard was appointed by the White House to recommend policies to the National Ocean Council. President Barack Obama created the council to implement policies to protect, maintain and restore ocean, coastal and Great Lakes ecosystems and resources, preserve maritime heritage, and enhance the capacity to respond to climate change. In his advisory role to the Cabinet-level council, Stoddard is advancing adaptation measures for sea level rise and mitigation measures for climate change.
With sea level threatening coastal communities throughout the world, South Florida is particularly vulnerable because of the large number of assets exposed to the effects of rising seas. Stoddard has taken an active role in educating and engaging the public by giving lectures to K-12 students, college students, business groups and others on the science of sea level rise, the challenges it presents, and efforts needing public support. He has also partnered with the not-for-profit CLEO Institute by teaching courses for climate communicators so they can accurately and honestly communicate this subject to others. Stoddard has done interviews with documentary filmmakers and national and international media, from ABC News and Al Jazeera to The Huffington Post, The New York Times and Rolling Stone, among others.
“Antarctica and Greenland are destabilizing quicker than we would like to see, storms are becoming more frequent and more intense, and many areas are in drought,” Stoddard said. “Most of Florida will disappear under the sea as the glaciers melt, including my home. How much of Florida we give back to the ocean, and how fast it happens, is still in our hands. People need to cease the production of greenhouse gasses and prepare for rising seas.”
Published online, Politico Magazine is home for journalism about the people, ideas and institutions that matter most in Washington and beyond. Last year’s Politico 50 list included Pope Francis, Bernie Sanders, John Kerry, Mark Zuckerberg, Paul Ryan and Elizabeth Warren. This year, Stoddard joins Harold Wanless from the University of Miami, for their commitment to educating and engaging the community on one of the most pressing environmental issues of this century and beyond.