Fri | Oct 30, 2020

Hands On Climate Change With Donna Miller

Published:Sunday | February 10, 2019 | 12:00 AM

Behind every crisis is a team of strategic analysts that are trained to provide solutions for incoming exigencies. Climate change is one of those phenomenons that is currently a hot topic among government leaders and environmentalists world wide. Ecologist have been highlighting well known mega fauna such as the panda, polar bear and even the king of the jungle, the lion, to portray its effects to make it more relatable. Climate change analyst, Donna Miller, has made it her life’s mission to educate, mitigate policies and assist in reducing its effects on the Jamaican biota.

Miller is a practicing Urban and Regional Planner, with over seven years experience working in the planning and development field. She is currently employed by the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) as a senior urban planner, and plays an integral role in completing the most recent Downtown Kingston and Port Royal redevelopment plan. She was also a part of the planning team that was successful in completing the Development Orders for the parishes of Portland and Trelawny. “My love for urban planning started after my second year of doing her Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTECH). I started to see the interactions between all the different processes associated with people’s lives which involved social, economic and environmental aspects,” said Miller, who was excited about the thought of spending majority of her life within this field.

After receiving the Chevening scholarship, Miller was able to achieve one of her long term career goals of completing a Master of Science degree in Climate Change and Development at the University of Reading. “My interest in climate change peaked when I was writing the Downtown Kingston and Port Royal redevelopment plan as a part of my function then as an urban planner. Because I was writing a master plan that will span for a number of years, it meant that I had to look into all the issues that will affect development,” she explained. As she started doing research to obtain a better understanding of the project, she came across an article which changed her views on the steps towards sustainability completely.

According to Miller, previous developmental plans did not take into consideration the reduction of green spaces within the urbanised areas with large populations. These areas are the centre of green house immersions due to human activities and chemical reactions which release harmful gases into the atmosphere. “The lack of green spaces that will act as sinks for absorbing the green house gases that cause heating for the atmosphere has contributed to the environment getting very hot overtime,” said Miller. From this, Miller found her life’s purpose within reducing the effects of Climate Change with a particular focus on using urban development as a solution to the problems.

Being able to translate the many technicalities surrounding climate change is a crucial skill for a Climate Change analyst. “Time management is also important because you are constantly planning and meeting with engineers, environmentalist and architects to figure out the best ways to develop an urban space,” explained Miller. A typical day for her involves site visits, meeting with government officials, and discussing plans to modernise and create greener environments.

An increase in temperatures will increase the severity of the effects of hurricanes on the island. This will lead to the loss of beaches that play an important role in tourism for Jamaica and the loss of habitat for several endemic species.

“Climate change will make disasters 10 times worst. We need to take the necessary steps to reduce its effects before it is too late,” said Miller.