Category Archives: Eco Warrior

Change Agent Dane Best: Operation Snowball

I’m in the middle of final exams for what has been an incredible semester of learning here at the University of Miami and have largely been “radio silent” in recent weeks but just had to share this with you!

Nine year old Dane Best is my hero this week. He’s a totally normal kid from Colorado but he’s also a super-hero Agent of Change capable of fixing what the adults before him broke.

As a major snow storm travels across much of the United States Dane’s story sure is topical but also shows the impact young people are capable of having in their community, our country and the world. You see, Dane’s school visited his local City Hall in Severance, Colorado on a field trip recently and while there learned that (I am not making this up) his town had a nearly 100 year old law on the books that outlawed throwing snowballs.

Yep. You read that right. Snowball throwing in Severance has been against the law for almost a century.

At least until Dane came along and asked: why?

Now, Dane is not the first person to ask that question.

Or write a letter expressing their displeasure and requesting the law be changed.

Or to call City Hall about their silly law.

But he is the first person to do what was required to actually get such a ridiculous law changed: attend a City Commission meeting and ask, in person, that the law be abolished.

And what did the adults on the City Council do when presented with this logical concern from Dane? They voted unanimously, of course, to change the law and allow snowballs to fly through their town’s Colorado air.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. You can have a voice in your town.

Dane Best

9 Year Old Super Hero Change Agent from Colorado

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Perhaps the best part of the day, at least for Dane, was that right after the City Council meeting he and his little brother Dax were given the honor of throwing the first two legal snowballs in their town in nearly a century. And it just goes to show you what concerned citizens, even kids, can do if we set our mind to making our planet and the places we live better.

Hey, Dane, hit me up. Let’s attack this global climate change crisis thing together. You, me and our young friends all over earth so kids in the future can still be able to throw snowballs. I am pretty sure kids like us can fix the stupid things that adults have been doing for far too long to warm our planet with man-made carbon emissions and that brave agents of change like you can lead the way before it’s too late. In fact, I’ll bet you a snowball or two that you can get the adults in Colorado to enact laws to clean the air and outlaw carbon emissions in your state during our lifetime. Ready? Aim. Fire!

Thanks President Trump, General Motors, the people of Lordstown, Ohio…

Thanks President Trump, General Motors, the people of Lordstown, Ohio; Oshawa, Ontario; Detroit, Michigan; White Marsh, Maryland and Warren, Michigan for helping our country and world move closer to solving our climate change crisis.

Despite Donald Trump’s cruel and shortsighted 2016 campaign promises (promises he often repeated this year while campaigning for others in the region) of new jobs, a bright future and pleas to already desperate and scared American auto workers to not sell their homes, General Motors this week announced that they will be closing at least five manufacturing plants and laying off 15% of their workforce. GM’s stated reason for taking this action, as they stated in their press release, is their desire of transforming the global enterprise to advance the company’s vision of Zero Crashes, Zero Emissions, Zero Congestion.”  

So I say thank you to President Trump for showing the world how antiquated your thinking and “gut” has been about the future of transportation and energy in America. Politics has no place in our climate change crisis, the stakes are far larger than the shallow campaign promises, lies and deceit that constantly flow from your mouth.

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And speaking of your mouth, you’ve repeatedly put your foot into it this week while questioning America’s Fourth National Climate Assessment, so I also want to thank you for showing everyone how idiotic you are on a topic that according to the landmark work by the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication has found that 70% of Americans believe our climate crisis is real.

That’s true too, of course, of experts from all over our (now your) government who prepared this report and in doing so illustrate that our climate change crisis presents real and grave danger to our environment, people and economy.

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Thank you President Trump for illustrating the point I made many years ago by creating a button about climate change being real and that we needed to set politics aside to deal with this crisis. We know how you feel about this topic, President Trump, so thanks for sharing your view, but I’d suggest you stop talking about the topic until we’ve removed you from office and can get on with the real work of solving what I believe is the most important challenge facing my generation: climate change.

In a strange way General Motors deserves some thanks too for publicly announcing that it is “transforming the global enterprise.” It is, however, important to keep in mind that they are doing so because they believe it will be good business for their company and investors. GM sees a future where SUV’s offer more promise and profit to their company but also one where cars will be automated and electric. And that’s okay.

To address our climate crisis it will take many large businesses in all sorts of industries to force change and that understand that sustainable energy is both what their customers will increasingly demand and good business too. By the way, GM is not alone. Both Ford Motor Company and FIAT Chrysler will be doing the exact same thing: shifting their production to automated, electric vehicles as we transition to a zero carbon emissions future that, for me, can’t happen soon enough.

Most importantly, the people who will lose their current jobs as our country and the world transition away from gas combustion and diesel engine powered vehicles that emit pollution to clean energy solutions such as electric vehicles are to be commended, thanked and sincerely supported. In many cases these brave Americans have worked at GM and the businesses GM subcontracts with for a variety of parts for many years and in many cases for generations. Make no mistake, these people, their families and communities face truly tough times transitioning into new employers, jobs and perhaps places to live. It is my hope that they will take the negative news this week and work hard to turn it into a positive by rising up to demand that leaders in their communities embrace this as an opportunity to step into the future.

Why can’t places like Lordstown, Oshawa, Detroit, White Marsh, and Warren become places that build more solar panels and related sustainable equipment than any place on the planet?

Why can’t the USA become the world’s leader in producing solar equipment, much less in installing it everywhere?

The thousands of people who face these layoffs are expert, skilled makers, they know how to conceive, assemble and ship world class products and I see no reason that, with the right leadership in their communities and our country, investing in the manufacturing of sustainable products and solutions such as solar would not only enrich these people but our country and planet!

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There is, of course, a perfect example of how one industry had no choice but to transition long ago. It’s a topic I’ve written about before (click here). Think back on our history to a time when people traveled by horse drawn carriages, buggies and wagons when a change came along that threatened their jobs and futures. That threat was called the automobile. The advent of new technology did not lead to our country collapsing but required people to transition their skills from raising and caring for horses, building and maintaining wagons, carriages and buggies to over a century of great jobs in the new auto industry. My point is that we have done this before and we can certainly do it again.

And that’s exactly what should happen here, these communities and those impacted will, I hope, blaze the trail into America’s future of sustainable energy and every one of us should proudly and quickly support them along the way by demanding that our government provide economic help to businesses that want to create sustainable products/jobs, training for people to learn new skills and, for crying out loud, the widespread implementation of solar power and other truly clean energy solutions and the jobs that go with them all over our country.

Let us not see the recent climate report or of these layoffs as “bad” news but as opportunity. An opportunity to embrace a future of clean energy, to support our fellow Americans in helping us transition into that future and as a vivid example that political rhetoric, fake promises and lies have no place in our climate change discussion, nor in any other place in these United States.

Florida General Election Recount

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Many have asked about the outcome of the recent Florida elections and true to our state’s proud history (think Gore Versus Bush and the “hanging chads”) of elections there will be a recount of this past Tuesday’s general election for several of offices likely including Florida’s Governor and Agricultural Commissioner and the U.S. Senate race between Scott and Nelson. What this leads to is anyone’s guess but Florida being Florida we’d not have it any other way in the Great State of Denial (I mean Florida).

Given the level of interest, I am going to share an outline and update that Jake Farmer prepared and gave permission to share that describes in detail what will likely take place and when:

2018 Florida Recount Update

Today in Florida we are preparing for the first automatic statewide recount in our history. Below is a brief description of the process that will be followed, which was placed into law after the election in 2000. There are no more hanging chads, and the process to determine a voter’s intent is pretty straightforward and contained in Florida Statutes Chapter 102.166.

There are two basic phases for a statewide recount: an automatic recount by machine and, if needed, a manual recount on under and over votes for the specific races under 0.25 percent. We expect by the weekend we will see the US Senate, Governor, and Agriculture Commissioner all in machine recounts, with the Senate and Agriculture Commissioner race headed to manual. (As of now Gov. Scott still leads the Senate race over Sen. Bill Nelson, but Nikki Fried has passed Matt Caldwell in the Agriculture Commissioner race).

As for the statewide races; we expect to see Senate District 18 (Dana Young vs. Janet Cruz), House District 26 (Elizabeth Fetterhoff vs. Patrick Henry), and House District 89 (Mike Caruso vs. Jim Bonfiglio) in a recount.

The process is outlined in the attached memo from the division, but in short, unofficial returns are due to the state by Saturday at noon. After those ballots are counted, any federal, state or multicounty race that is separated by 0.5 percent or less will automatically be run through the optical scan machines again. Typically with machine recounts, very few changes are typically found, but then again, no one has ever seen this done statewide.

The machine recount is due by 3 p.m. on Thursday, November 15th. Any race that is separated by 0.25 percent or less will automatically undergo a manual recount, which must be wrapped up by Sunday, November 18th.

In the event of a manual recount, the only ballots that will be scrutinized are those where there were either too many or too few candidates selected for the specific race at stake (meaning under or no vote cast in the race and overvotes, meaning more than one decision was indicated or some other error).

The 67 canvassing boards will send their final vote totals for the manually recounted races to the state by November 18th at noon.

The state Elections Canvassing Commission, made up of the governor and two members of the Florida cabinet selected by the governor, will certify the results in a 9 a.m. meeting at the state Capitol on November 20th.

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