Category Archives: Delaney Reynolds

Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head

Delaney ReynoldsMuch to be grateful about of late between so many raindrops…

On Thursday September 17th I had the honor to speak before the Miami Dade County Commission, including Miami Dade Mayor Gimenez, during the second reading of its nearly $7 Billion fiscal budget. It was a very important night for sea level rise, perhaps a turning point where local political leaders finally saw how important this topic is to citizens from all corners of the County; men, women, children and every color and language that makes South Florida so special.

As I wrote in my last post, the Mayor’s initial budget barely mentioned sea rise, burying it near the end of a nearly 1,000 page, three volume budget and allocating nothing towards solving the problem. The Mayor took a lot of grief for overlooking sea level rise (including in my last blog) and a few days after the first hearing he announced that he will create a new sustainability position within the County and allocate…$75,000.00. While the step was appreciated the amount was seen as insulting and insincere.

At the start of the recent second hearing that I attended the Mayor again attempted to appease vocal voters by touting that he had just returned from a Climate Conference in California and then announced that he was proposing spending $300,000.00 on sea level rise in the coming year, up from the initial zero allocation and more recent $75,000.00.

And that’s where my comments and those of many others come in…here’s part of what I said to the Mayor and Commission on what was a dark and dreary rainy night;

As I drove over here it was raining, and as it rained, I imagined that there were millions of raindrops falling from the sky, in fact there probably were, and as I thought about coming here, those raindrops were a metaphor for your 6.8 billion dollar budget and I thought to myself that just one of those drops is equal to the small amount of money which you’re allocating in the budget towards mitigating sea level rise. 

 

First there was little to nothing, then seventy five thousand dollars and I think I heard today about three hundred thousand dollars were allocated. I’d like to suggest that that’s not enough. That our community and the environment deserve more and in fact, I respectfully ask that you increase this line item to one million dollars and certainly nothing less than five hundred thousand dollars.

Although Mayor Gimenez chose to chat amongst his fellow politicians while most people spoke about sea level concerns and although most of the Commissioners laughed when I suggested increasing the budget to one million dollars, I learned that speaking up and out matters. I could tell from the audience reaction, as well as what others who approached me after my speech said; a Miami Herald reporter, a film crew from National Geographic, and several County Commissioners’ representatives who have asked to arrange meetings with me and the Commissioners they work for so as to learn about The Sink or Swim Project.

Yes, I’m grateful that Mayor Gimenez and the Commission allocated $300,000 towards sea level rise concerns within the budget but that’s not nearly enough. The money this year is a tiny step, but I will tell you what was big on that rainy night in downtown Miami; the people. Young, old, black, white and brown, those living in the inner city, on the Bay to the East, North, South, and West.

I am not sure that the Miami of my childhood will remain…

What about us? What about the kids that are forced to inherit this fate?  

Cassie Plunket, Palmer Trinity High School Senior Comments

to the Miami Dade Commission at 09/17’s Budget Hearing

A diverse section of Miami Dade County spoke out and demanded that our political leaders do more, take us and sea rise seriously and what I watched gave me hope. Hope that people all over our community are starting to understand how important this topic is to our future. Hope that future budgets will have far larger amounts allocated to real solutions, not to appease those who are vocal but to actually begin to the mitigation that South Florida will desperately soon need. I don’t know if we can get the Commission to increase this year’s sea level sustainability budget to $1,000,000, but I do know this. Next year I will be back and asking for one billion dollars.

Speaking of being grateful, let me also share with you the amazing work of The Sea Turtle Conservancy (www.conserveturtles.org), as well as the fine films made by David Smith of CAVU (www.cavusite.org) including their collaboration a few years ago entitled Higher Ground. Gary and David are collaborating again and on Tuesday the 15th visited my High School to film and interview me about The Sink or Swim Project in our school’s Coral Lab for their forthcoming sequel on sea level rise. I do not know if I will end up in the final film, but can tell you that it was an amazing experience and one that I was humbled to participate in, much less one that could appear on Public Television and help educate gosh knows how many people learn of the serious risks we face from sea rise.

Like I said, it was an amazing week. In addition to the filming on Tuesday and the Commission meeting on Thursday I want to share another encouraging event, one that took place on Wednesday night the 16th, when I attended The CLEO Institute’s Town Hall: Miami Talks Climate at Miami Dade College’s Kendall campus.

Miami Talks Climate brought together some of our region’s most expert thought leaders from the private sector, law, government, science, and academics as they discussed the challenges related to sea level rise in our future. The Dean of the University of Miami’s School of Geology, Dr. Wanless, explained that recent research shows “seas are rising by one inch per year.” Leading environmental lawyer and CLEO Institute Board Member, Mitchell Chester, expressed frustration over the State of Florida’s leadership’s denial of global warming by saying, “Tallahassee is in a coma over sea rise and global warming.

The thoughtful comments of the speakers were wonderful but what was really encouraging was the fact that, despite it taking place after work on another heavily rainy night, was the nearly full room of people filled with questions and passions.  Like the rest of the week, people’s voices are making a difference and, while we are only beginning to address the problem, I sense that people all over our community want sea level rise solutions and for that I am truly grateful.

This coming week I will be attending The Climate Reality Leadership Corp’s training event that will take place here in Miami for the first time. The three day program begins with Climate Reality Founder, and former United States Vice President, Al Gore, speaking to our group. I want to thank his organization for allowing me, likely the rare, perhaps only, child to participate and also want to thank my school, Palmer Trinity, incredible teachers and family for allowing me to attend during a school week.

As I end this post from No Name Key here in the Florida Keys on a warm day that is bright and beautiful, yet seems to have a small bit of Fall in the breeze, thanks for reading, learning and getting involved. As I said, so much to be grateful for…

Source: Board of County Commissioners – Second Budget Hearing – Sep 17th, 2015

Page 265, Volume 3: The Problem with Politics and Sea Level Rise

The Problem with Politics and Sea Level Rise

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“In this three-volume budget, there is one mention of sea-level rise.

This has to be a joke. Given that we’re Ground Zero for climate change.”

Maggie Fernandez, League of Women Voters, To County Commissioners on 09/03/15.

 

Good news. Bad news.

The September 3rd Miami-Dade County commission meeting, led by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, illustrated both the political challenges and the growing grass root common sense concerns that citizens in our community have over sea level rise.

The good news is that much of the commission meeting was dominated by public comment, questions really, over why the County’s proposed $­­6.8 billion 2015/2016 budget fails to include one penny towards mitigating the growing dangers and damage from sea level rise. Citizen after citizen, speaker after speaker, voiced concern over why the budget for a region that is Ground Zero in America barely mentioned sea level rise and failed to appropriate any money towards fixing the problem. The fact that people are expressing concern over our political leaders’ failure to truly start addressing this growing problem is, in my view, a sign of solid progress. It seems to me that people, voters, are starting to realize the importance of this issue and are beginning to demand that today’s leaders do something about it. That’s good progress and a beginning.

The bad news, and it’s truly terrible news, is that one of the largest municipal budgets in America, in a County clearly in the crosshairs of sea level rise, has failed to allocate any real resources to begin solving the problem. Not only is no money being allocated towards addressing the problem, but the 831 page budget buries the topic of sea level rise on page 265 of Volume 3 in a budget that only has three volumes, and mentions it just one time. That’s ridiculous and insulting. This suggests to me that sea level rise is not the priority that it should be in Miami-Dade County while other local municipalities, Miami Beach, South Miami, and Pinecrest, to name three, are actually spending money to begin solving the problem while Miami-Dade County is falling farther and farther behind.

I suspect that the people in charge at the County would say they are ‘studying’ the issue, ‘thinking’ about it, ‘aware’ of it and might even say they are ‘concerned’ about that sea level ‘stuff’. That’s all likely true, and important, but the time for action has arrived. Sea level rise is front page news. The impact to our region’s infrastructure, businesses, citizens, and ecology is potentially catastrophic and while development all over the County is booming right now (notice all of those construction cranes?) with new buildings and infrastructure we need to begin implementing solutions rather than keep adding to the problem.

In a document filled with good news including rising revenue, the Miami-Dade County draft budget and those who wrote it have failed to take sea level rise seriously.  831 pages of content, yet you must travel 566 pages before finding mention of sea rise and are then disappointed to learn that no money is proposed to actually begin fixing the problem. Seriously? Our community, citizens and environment deserve better. South Florida should be a global leader in addressing this problem and I suspect that voters will begin making that clear by electing people who are serious about sea level rise and who put tax payer’s money where their mouth is, including in the budget.

Sea Turtles and Sea Rise

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Sea level rise has already begun to impact many aspects of our lives and the planet’s ecosystem. These impacts will only increase in the years to come as the water rises. Animals and their environment are at risk for potentially catastrophic loss from rising seas due to changes in water temperatures, increased carbon, and changes to or the loss of their habitat.

In Florida we have over 800 miles of incredible sandy beaches surrounding our state and while people often enjoy their time along the water’s edge with the sand in their toes, rising sea levels threaten many near shore animals that live or rely on beaches such sea turtles that use our (or do we use their?) beaches to nest.

The Turtle Hospital in Marathon Florida, here in the Florida Keys, is well known for their truly excellent work in saving sick and injured turtles that live in the waters along the Keys. As we think about the biological risks that our planet faces from sea level rise, I thought I’d share some pictures from a turtle release that my family attended recently and that The Turtle Hospital conducted at the amazing Bahia Honda State Park, just around the ‘corner’ from my home on No Name Key.

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Sea turtles are just one example of the biological risks our planet faces from sea level rise. Sea levels are estimated to increase about two feet over the next few decades and as many as four to eight feet later this century.

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Picture what your local beach might look like for you, much less the turtles that rely on it for nesting, with two to four to more feet of water covering it and you can get a real sense of the problem that’s about to impact us, all of us, including animals that can’t speak for themselves such as sea turtles.

To learn more about The Turtle Hospital click here to visit their website.

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