The Dalai Lama Sounds the Alarms for Sustainability. By Natalie Pace.

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The Dalai Lama Sounds the Alarms for Sustainability. By Natalie Pace.

Happy Birthday to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, shared his 80th birthday celebration with everyone in attendance at the Global Compassion Summit in Irvine, California, on July 6, 2015.

Photo by: Emily Scher.


July 25, 2015

A peacemaker for the ages walks among us. Whether he is blessing world leaders who are notorious for war, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, or speaking of his own exile from his homeland of Tibet, the message of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet is the same. "This should be the peace century."

Everyone present at the Global Compassion Summit at the Bren Events Center at University of California, Irvine on July 6, 2015 was there to celebrate the 80th birthday of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and to learn more about how to embody and promote the values that are close to his heart - gratitude, peace, compassion, education and sustainability. We all worked hard and planned in advance to get there. The smiles, applause and love that erupted when His Holiness stepped on stage that morning were infectious.

Photo: The Sold Out Honda Center Crowd on Day 1 of The Global Compassion Summit
Photo Credit: Peter Ruprecht


There are certain occasions, which lift off from the gravity of the moment and become a time stamp for the centuries. Amidst the fun, the celebration, the singing and the gifts, there was a loud and clear call to action on behalf of our planet and humanity. The speakers were united in the message that if the wisdom of our treasured peacemaker is not embodied and enacted now, if we do not collectively shift our focus to reversing the effects of climate change, the consequences could be dire and irreversible.

 "Nations take interest in their own nation first and then global interest," the Dalai Lama told everyone in attendance. "They should take global interest first, and then national interest. Serving humanity means that each nation gets the maximum benefit. We have to look at this holistically," His Holiness continued.

Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan spoke first on the morning of July 6, 2015. Professor Ramanathan was fresh off of his meetings with Pope Francis, where he inspired the Pope to issue an historic and urgent encyclical on climate change, calling upon everyone to "protect our common home." Professor Ramanathan warned that:

Drastic climate change is not going to happen 100 years from now, or 200 years from now. We're talking 30 years from now.  This change within 30 years will be so large that it will be felt by everyone. If you wait for that to show up and to have universal acceptance of climate change, we won't be able to protect a large fraction of humanity.

Emcee Ann Curry noted, repeatedly, that 97% of the world's climate scientists agree that global warming is here. Now.

The question then becomes quite simple. What will we do now to try and save humanity from the effects of climate change, which include massive droughts, rising sea levels, severe weather and the mass migration of people fleeing to escape these disasters. If the scientists are right, climate change could submerge coastal regions worldwide. Bangladesh, the Florida Keys Highway and the San Francisco Airport, among many other valuable assets and communities, are at risk of going underwater. Golf courses in the Florida Keys are already planted with salt-tolerant grass.

Perhaps the best news delivered at the Summit is that the physician of His Holiness predicts that the Dalai Lama is so healthy, he can live another thirty years. That would be a blessing indeed. It looks like we're going to need him.

Shifting to a Global View
So, how do we shift to a global view? Today, more than ever, global citizens are scrambling to make ends meet, trying to keep their homes from foreclosure (over 7 million American homes are still seriously underwater), hoping to earn more or get a better job, defending national boundaries on foreign soil and stockpiling nuclear weapons that could blow our planet up dozens of times. Our collective home <a href="" target="_hplink">is heating up</a>, with consequences that could be dire for all of humanity, including the plants and animals upon whom we depend for our sustenance. Yet we're too crushed by the ongoing developed world debt and terrorism crises to notice a collective planetary climate emergency that is already visible on the horizon.

During lunch, I randomly selected a student to discuss climate change. Raphael, who was born in The Philippines, was completely unaware of the gravity of the situation, though he wishes he could have gone to see the Dalai Lama. "I'm not really aware of climate change issues, other than the rising sea levels," Raphael told me. "My classes focus on cultural and economic issues." Raphael made it clear that he wants to get more involved on environmental issues, but he just doesn't feel very knowledgeable about what's going on or how to have an impact. (As a reminder, The Philippine Islands have already experienced one side affect of global warming - an increase in severe weather. In 2013, Typhoon Haiyan killed at least 6,300 people living there.)

Like so many of us, Raphael is hearing a call to action somewhere off in the distance. In fact, each one of us can start here and now with sustainability, even without complete awareness of all of the facts and solutions. If you want to give His Holiness, the Dalai Lama a special and priceless gift for his 80th birthday, begin by sharing the information and wisdom spoken on the stage at the Global Compassion Summit. I have created a slide show with photos and important messages spoken at the Summit, which you can view directly below. Create memes of the quotes of your favorite Nobel Laureate, activist or celebrity and share with the hash tag #DalaiLama. Go through the list of 31 ways to become more sustainable from my “Make Earth Day Every Day” blog. Add to the list and share that, too.



Priceless Moments at The Global Compassion Summit, celebrating the 80th Birthday of His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama


Professor Veerabhadran Ramanathan presented His Holiness with a very unique birthday gift. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography has named a new deep underwater species Sirsoe dalailamai. According to Professor Ramanathan, who has been studying climate change since the 1970s, this species resembles the Dalai Lama because it "gives more back to the planet than it takes."

His Holiness, Ann Curry and pretty much all of us had a good laugh at this "not very good looking" creature. Turns out that even a Dalai Lama can get the creepy crawly heebie-jeebies over a caterpillar-like organism.

Photo: Ann Curry; His Holiness, Dr. Walter Munk, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez and Professor Veerabhadran Ramanthan.
Photo by: Emily Scher


Blowing Out the Candles
His Holiness personally thanked each of the children from The Agape International Children's Choir after they sang for him. Joie-May Silvers, a talented singer in the group, said, "Singing for The Dalai Lama was really cool. The whole time we were singing, he was looking at us with this boyish smile that proves age is just a number. Afterwards, he was so full of life and joy, and it kind of transferred onto you. I couldn't help smiling when we were up there."

Photo: His Holiness blowing out his birthday cake candle with two children from the Agape Children's Choir.
Photo by: Emily Scher

Emcee Ann Curry
Ann Curry emceed the Global Compassion Summit. Speaking during the morning session on climate change, Ann remarked, "We’re not talking politics here. We’re talking science. 97% of climate scientists agree. The train has left the station. The warming has begun. Now the question is, 'What will we do about it?'"

Photo: Ann Curry.
Photo by: Emily Scher.

His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet, Turns 80
On the morning of his 80th birthday, July 6, 2015, in Irvine, California, His Holiness, the 14th Dalai Lama had a message of compassion. He said, "In ancient times, destroying a nation or community was your victory. Today’s reality is no longer that. Destroying your enemy is literally the destruction of yourself. War is outdated. The war machine no longer is relevant. Serving humanity means that each nation gets the maximum benefit. We have to look at this holistically."

Photo: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama posing with his birthday cake from the Art Institute of Orange County.
Photo by: Emily Scher.


Dolores Huerta Spelling, co-founder, United Farm Workers
"Who's got the power?" Dolores Huerta Spelling asked the crowd of thousands at the Bren Center at UC Irvine during the Global Compassion Summit on July 6, 2015. "We've got the power!" the crowd yelled back. As the oldest panelist on stage, Dolores was invited to sit on the love seat with His Holiness during the panel. Throughout the session, he held her hand. His Holiness beamed as she rallied the crowd to take the power for positive change into their own hands.

Photo: His Holiness & Dolores Huerta.
Photo by: Emily Scher.


Nobel Peace Prize Winner Jody Williams
Nobel Laureate Jody Williams said, "Today I wanted to fall on the floor and wash [Dolores Huerta's] feet with my hair like Mary Magdalene because I totally agree with every single word she said. We have to make choices to become active people in our own destiny and the destiny of the world. You can be part of change. It is not magic. It is not something that only people with Nobel Prizes can do or His Holiness does. We have the power to make decisions about what we want to be in the world. It doesn’t matter what act of good you do. Imagine if everybody had the courage to get up off of their butt and volunteer a couple of hours a month."

Photo: Jody Williams takes the microphone at the Global Compassion Summit. From left: His Holiness, Dolores Huerta Spelling, Shirin Ebadi, Julia Ormond & Robert Thurman.
Photo by: Emily Scher.


Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi
To celebrate the 80th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, visionaries, Nobel Prize winners, scientists, celebrities, musicians and more came together to talk about their commitment to global change.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Shirin Ebadi shared her unique perspective on discrimination, saying "Any loss can be the introduction to a victory. When you want to jump a hurdle, you usually take a step back. Loss in life is like that. You take a step back so that you can jump higher. I lost my job that I really liked, as a judge, because I was a woman. This loss resulted in many more successes for me. I have written 14 books. I founded NGOs in Iran, which were very useful. I attended many seminars and I spoke a lot, and this created fame. I have won several prizes. Up to now, I have received 27 honorary doctorate degrees. One of the prizes that I won was the Nobel Prize. Had I not suffered the loss of losing my judgeship on that day what would have happened to me? I would have been an older judge who had to retire today and sit at home."

Photo: His Holiness & Shirin Ebadi.
Photo by: Emily Scher.


Mayor Tait and Anaheim's Culture of Kindness
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait credits His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, with inspiring him to run Anaheim on a platform of kindness. According to Mayor Tait, "Once you have a culture of kindness, things just start happening. It’s a holistic way of dealing with our issues. Within the Anaheim School District, K-6 classrooms performed a million acts of kindness. A million! That’s a massive amount of kind acts. When people do enough kind things, ultimately they become kind. I talked to a principal and she said their calls for discipline were cut in half, which means the bullying calls. Suspensions district wide were cut in half. Create a culture of kindness and everything gets better. Your crime drops. Your addiction drops. Your bullying at schools. Your senior neglect."

Photo: Mayor of Anaheim, Tom Tait, receiving a blessed scarf from His Holiness.
Photo by: Emily Scher.



Michael Franti Sings for His Holiness
On the evening of July 5, 2015, Michael Franti took the stage at the 80th Birthday Celebration of His Holiness. Michael celebrates the light of His Holiness, saying, "Sometimes I think, 'What if there wasn’t Dalai Lama. What if there wasn’t someone who is that light?' It’s a decision that people make every day of their lives. That’s what this weekend was all about, empowering everyday people to step into their role as difference-makers on this planet."

Photo: Michael Franti.
Photo by: Emily Scher.


The Peace Zone
"My favorite Dalai Lama moment is when he speaks of "The Peace Zone" as a better solution for teaching our children conflict resolution, rather than "time out." In the words of His Holiness, "Create a Peace Zone, where children sit and think about how they can make the world a more peaceful place." I hope this powerful, simple gift from his beautiful mind is one that we will share with all of our friends. I only wish I had heard of this when my son was still a child..." Natalie Pace (yours truly)

Photo: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama giving a bow of gratitude to one of the Agape Children's Choir singers
Photo by: Emily Scher


Thank you to Katy and her team at Harmonica Agency for the amazing photographs from the Global Compassion Summit that are published in the slide show.

The Global Compassion Summit was co-sponsored by Friends of the Dalai Lama, the University of California, Irvine and the Center for Living Peace.

Special thanks to Lora O'Connor, my soul sister for peace and sustainability, for her assistance in getting quotes and pictures for this blog. Lora wears many hats and is an angel for our planet and humanity, often behind the scenes, at almost every conference I've been to over the last decade. For the purposes of this important gathering, Lora is a chief compassion officer at


About Natalie Pace:
Natalie Pace is the author of the Amazon bestsellers The Gratitude Game, The ABCs of Money and You Vs. Wall Street (aka Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is in hard cover). Natalie has been saving homes and nest eggs for 14 years, while at the same time earning the ranking of No. 1 stock picker.  Natalie Pace is a blogger on and a repeat guest on national television and radio shows such as Good Morning America, Fox News, CNBC, ABC-TV,, NPR and more. As a strong believer in giving back, she has been instrumental in raising tens of millions for public schools, financial literacy, the arts and underserved women and girls worldwide. Follow her on, and For more information please visit Click to access a longer bio on Natalie Pace.
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