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A Message of Hope: One Arab-American Doctor’s Thoughts After the People’s Climate March

posted on: May 3, 2017

BY: Daniel Gil/Contributing Writer

The continued politicization of the issue of climate change can make it difficult to foresee a reasonable shift towards bipartisan action and the way we try and address it as a country. Debates on man-made global warming have become an entrenched aspect of modern politics in the United States punctuated by an administration which has demonstrated a willingness to roll back environmental protections, striking down current notions of the government following in footsteps of the Obama administration, and in climate change action.

Though prospects of meaningful climate action may currently seem impossibly dismal, it provided the fuel for thousands of people to descend upon the nation’s capital Saturday for the People’s Climate March to demonstrate staunch disapproval to Trump’s environmental policy and to voice their concerns for the future of the climate. Outrage and opposition for Trump’s climate agenda defined the march’s lively tramp; however, the a thin film of hope gilded the heavy layers of sweat worn by protesters. The scorching day, which fittingly marked the end of Washington’s hottest April on record, served as a reminder to the country that protest of Trump’s climate agenda is alive and well in the United States.

The march began at the steps of the Capitol building and made its way through the city’s largest avenues towards the White House where Trump was on his 100th day in office. Signs scorning the President and touting climate action filled the streets along with banners, floats, balloons, paper mache caricatures, and loud rallying chants. The march in D.C. was one of hundreds like it across the country and abroad meant to bring more attention to the process of climate change. 

Dr. Adel Korkor, 66, was one of tens of thousands who marched in Washington and he believes there is still plenty to be optimistic about when it comes to the climate.

“I truly believe that with the combination of leadership that many private companies have taken and a lot of communities in the United States which have emphasized renewable energy as a source, that there is hope…”

Korkor who operates a doctor’s office in Waukesha, Wisconsin as a nephrologist, traveled to the capital this weekend. 

“I’m hopeful that things will change and I think that the march was, to me, an inspiration. The fact that we allowed our voices to be heard means that sooner or later things will change… we have a duty and an obligation to express our views.”

This is because Korkor has adopted a manner of approaching problems in the way his profession as a physician has taught him to.

“I’m a doctor but I consider myself really a scientist… in medicine we practice evidence based treatment so I take a look at everything that’s happening around us and interpret it in a scientific way. If a patient comes in with a headache or a stomach ache, then there’s a reason for that so we prescribe something and try to treat it appropriately.”

In terms of the climate, this is exactly how he believes global warming should be addressed by governments around the world and especially in the United States.

“I think if anything, being a physician really helped me have a closer scientific look at the world around me.”

Although Korkor maintains a feeling of hope, his vision for the future of renewable energy extends past American borders. The Syrian born doctor is of the belief that the Middle East may represent a foreseeable future for investment in clean energy technology.

“I think the power of the Sun has tremendous potential there. It wouldn’t be very difficult for solar energy to be harnessed there and sent to Europe.” 

Korkor, who has had the opportunity to travel to over 90 countries during his life, has however noted that people in the Middle East generally have not prioritized addressing climate change the way that people in western countries do. This proves unfortunate considering a study released by the Max Planck institute last year which said the Middle East is one of the region’s of the world most susceptible to climate change.

“I think it’s all about economics. People there struggle to survive considering what has happened in the past decade. It’s not something people think about in Syria or other countries where there are more pressing issues like conflict. The Arab World is suffering from a lot of issues, but the wealthy countries there, like the United Arab Emirates, has potential to pave the way for renewable energy.”

Dr. Adel Korkor plans to continue to involve himself in the issue of climate change and he certainly won’t be alone.