Category Archives: Everglades National Park

The United Nations

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Solving our planet’s climate crisis requires that societies all over earth must evolve from a fossil fuel energy economy to a sustainable one during my lifetime. And for many of the most fragile places on earth and their inhabitants, those most susceptible to rising seas and other risks, the stakes are the difference between survival and extinction.

Every citizen of our planet now faces a crisis that has no boarders, one where people’s language, religion or the color of their skin simply, and thankfully, do not matter. For this reason my recent opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City was a unique and important chance to draw global attention to the fact that we need all of today’s world leaders to begin embracing change. The type of positive change that our world needs to solve our environmental problems before it’s too late.

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At UNESCO’s invitation, children from all over the world representing their World Heritage Marine sites including some of earth’s most iconic, yet endangered environments, such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands and South Florida’s very own Everglades National Park, gathered to ask UN members to join us in pledging their support. The diversity of the children was profoundly beautiful but even more impressive was the passion that these children have for our planet.

#MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC.

To be asked to speak on their behalf, both for the children that joined me on stage at the UN in New York and children all around the world was the greatest honor of my young life. My speech to the General Assembly sought to define why these special places are so important but to also illustrate that they are at dire risk. As I shared with the audience that day;

“in our increasingly virtual world, nothing can compare to the majestic beauty of our natural environment, those special places on our planet that touch our hearts and that inspire our imagination.

Such places have had a profoundly important impact on our society for generations but they are also fragile and face many challenges, in some cases even extinction, from risks including coral bleaching, our planet’s climate change crisis, overfishing, pollution from plastics or run off from pesticides to name just a few.”

#MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC. #MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC.

And we called upon the world’s leaders to join us in taking the #MyOceanPledge by signing a petition that recognizes the environment’s importance to our collective futures. To read more about the petition and why having the world’s leaders join us is so important to all of our futures please click here for Andres Oppenheimer’s timely editorial in yesterday’s Miami Herald entitled World May Not Melt, Despite Trump’s Insane Decision on Climate Change.

Mr. Oppenheimer’s editorial brilliantly recounts a recent interview that he conducted with none other than the United Nations General Assembly President Peter Thomson including his thoughts on President Trump’s short-sighted decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. President Thompson knows that the world is serious about solving our climate crisis and he especially knows this based on what he saw and heard from the children and me during the U.N. Ocean Conference. As Mr. Oppenheimer wrote and shared: He said he noticed that movement during the U.N. Ocean Conference held June 5-9, shortly after Trump’s decision. At that meeting, he said, there was a “hugely positive wave” of support for action against climate change, which included “a very big input from America’s civil society, states and cities.”

I noticed it too during my time in New York, at the UN and at the other events leading up to Worlds Ocean Day that we attended. It was everywhere and was what Mr. Oppenheimer quoted Mr. Thompson calling a “tidal wave of support” for action against climate change”.“I think what you’re seeing all the way from Europe to China and in the developing world, indeed everywhere I look, is that people are saying, ‘Hey, this only makes us stronger… I’m confident that people will step up on that. And I remind you that the biggest investors in renewable energy are American investors.”

#MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC.

And it was not just ‘talks’ and speeches but people taking action. Important people including heads of state, global business people and many others. People like Prince Albert II of Monaco, the first person to sign our pledge scroll and also someone Mr. Oppenheimer mentioned in his editorial when he wrote: Asked for specific examples of what is being done, Thomson cited the U.N. partnerships with celebrities such as billionaire Richard Branson and Prince Albert of Monaco to petition governments to protect 30 percent of their oceans by 2030. There is already an ongoing U.N. plan to have 10 percent of the oceans protected by 2020, and “I think that’s going to be doable,” he said.’

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And speaking of Prince Albert II, here is a picture of my brother Owen and me, along with our friend Sarah Ramos, with the Prince of Monaco just after he signed the petition Mr. Oppenheimer wrote about, #MyOceanPledge. As you can see, he sure does not look too stressed about President Trump’s lack of vision or recent decision.During what was an incredible week in New York I had the privilege to get to know children from Papahanamokuakea, Hawaii; Lord Howe Island, Australia; Seychelles; South Africa; Sudan; the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; and the Wadden Sea, Netherlands among other World Heritage Marine sites. And no matter which amazing place these children live in we all shared the same undeniable bond; a deep love of the ocean and our natural environment.

IMG_3637And speaking of amazing places, the Everglades National Park is the only environment of its type on earth. The Everglades is a treasure chest filled with magical, mystical creatures unique to its enchanting and diverse environment, from its mangrove lined coasts and sandy beaches along our ocean’s shore to its majestic pineland forest and slow moving River of Grass. And it’s a big part of why I was invited to address the General Assembly.

While working on my book on sea level rise, Sink or Swim?, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Everglades National Park Superintendent Ramos last year about the fragility and importance of this special place. Superintendent Ramos was generous with his time and shared a passion for the Park that left me feeling like the Park is in very good hands with a very good man.

Unfortunately, the Everglades is also at dire risk from all sorts of threats including encroaching development, agricultural pollution and run-off, rising seas and more. Sadly sea level rise alone threatens a large portion of the Park from possibly becoming extinct within my lifetime. As I said, it’s also one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Marine sites but its also a World Heritage in Danger site too given the many risks it faces to even have a future.

#MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC.

The folks at UNESCO in Paris saw a TEDx Talk I’d given a couple of years ago and, thus, invited me to address the General Assembly and have the honor of representing the Park and our region. And, if that was not enough, I was even able to be joined on stage by my brother, Owen, and our friend, Sarah.IMG_3684I have countless memories to share with you in future blogs about the outstanding children that joined me in New York, the time that we spent with people like Sylvia (‘Her Deepness’) Earle at The Explorers Club (only one of the coolest places you could ever hope to visit) and the truly exceptional people at UNESCO. I promise to share stories and pictures about all of those things and a lot more in time but, before I end this blog, allow me thank a few special people who were the reason I was honored to be asked to address the General Assembly.

#MyOceanPledge Ceremony in NYC.

Thanks to UNESCO, The Explorers Club, the Government of Flanders, Stefan and Irina Hearst, The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation, Dr. Fanny Douvere, Robbert Casier, Vanessa Lucot, Nolwazi Mjwara, Taylor Butz from the UNESCO World Heritage Center, Alison Barrat and Elizabeth Rauer from the Living Ocean Foundation, and Joel Sheakoski (for your amazing pictures).To each of you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for the work you do literally all over the world every day to protect some of the most important places on earth.

Thanks to Mom and Dad for facilitating the trip for Owen and me, much less introducing me to New York for the first time. I know that the entire experience was a bit overwhelming so thanks for not crying too much while we were on stage!IMG_3649Thanks to my #1, my not so little, little brother Owen. Thanks for standing outside the theaters with me to get autographs in the rain but mostly, thanks for standing on stage with me in front of the world and for always supporting my passions and dreams.IMG_3639And lastly, allow me to give a special shout out and thanks to the incomparable and ever so kind Pedro Ramos and his lovely daughter, Sarah. Pedro, it is my distinct honor to know you and to know that such a perfect steward of the environment is helping protect the Everglades. Its habitats, animals and I could never thank you enough.

OK, its time to get back to work on local solutions. Despite the circus that’s in Washington right now all of us have important work to do in our local communities, the regions and towns we live in, and in our states. If you’ve read this far then I would ask you to start local, stay local and find ways to make a positive change in your community. That’s my plan and I hope it’s yours too.

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From Miami-Dade’s Honor College to Middle & High Schoolers, KIDS GET IT!

So why is it that so few adults in Washington ‘get it’?

The stories pouring out of Washington this past week such as attempts to expand coal mining, eliminating important steps to protect our climate, and (http://www.recorder.com/Trump-order-could-ease-restrictions-on-oil-and-gas-drilling-in-some-national-parks-8987014) news that oil companies could be allowed to explore and drill wells in some of America’s National Parks (including Big Cyprus and Everglades National Park!) have many people rightfully upset, myself included. If needed, I’ll spend the rest of my life working to prevent oil explorations at Big Cyprus or Everglades National Park (have the so called “adults” in charge of these changes lost their minds?) and I am certain I will not be alone.

Why am I so certain?

Well, I only need think of the students that I have lectured to and met over the last few weeks. You only need to hear of their concerns, the passions in their voices and to look into their eyes to know that they are worried about what we are doing to our planet, much less their (rightful) fears over what the new “leadership” in Washington has been doing over the last month or two.

Miami Dade College

Miami Dade College has the largest institution of higher education in America and their very best students are enrolled in the Honor’s College. These young men and women are an impressive, motivated, and highly intelligent group and I learned that up close earlier this month when I presented a full lecture on climate change, sea level rise and what we need to do to solve this growing crisis. These energetic students were passionate about my talk and the need to get serious about fixing the problem. While those in power in Washington might not be serious about our changing climate, the Miami Dade College Honor’s students most certainly were.

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The Sagemont School

The Sagemont School is located on the edge of the Everglades in far, far Western Broward County in Weston. The middle and high school students that I met with this month might not yet be in college but they sure did express their concerns and are most certainly concerned about whether America’s leaders are serious about creating a sustainable future and protecting our planet.

And why not? No place in America is at greater risk from our ocean’s rising seas than South Florida and no place within South Florida is more at risk of extinction than the Everglades, whose grasslands you can see from the back of the school. Even the youngest students in attendance for my talk that day ‘get it’ and are worried about what is happening to our planet and want to help solve the problem. 

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Delaney,

Wow! Where do I start?
 You are an incredibly bright & passionate young woman who has discovered their gift at an early age and is sharing it with the world. Your light shines for others to see.
Your presentation was captivating, educational & left the kids realizing we can all do something to make a difference. 
It was a pleasure to meet you. I am so grateful you were able to join us!
*By the way, my sustainability class LOVED your books!!!
Thank you for what you do. You are amazing & inspiring!
Elaine Fiore

Climate & Sports Student Summit


And just last weekend I had the pleasure of being the closing speaker at the Climate & Sports Student Summit at American Airlines Arena that was organized by the Green Sports Alliance and the Miami Heat.

IMG_8047The students at this event were from schools all over South Florida and they were not only concerned about what is happening in Washington, as well as South Florida, but I am pleased to report that many of them are already deeply engaged in being part of the solution. And to prove it, they spent an entire Saturday learning about and working on ways to protect our precious environment.

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4638996Take, for example, attendees and speakers Kayla and Kimberly Correiea. These two incredible young women (mind you, they are, like myself, high school students) have founded the Plastic Free Mermaids organization (http://plasticfreemermaids.weebly.com) and bring awareness about the dangers of plastic in our marine environment, host cleanups and educate others on how to live in a plastic free lifestyle. These girls are amazing and are also very serious about having a positive impact in our world. Please consider visiting their website and following them on social media.
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And speaking of the Climate & Sports Student Summit and how serious today’s youth is about learning about what is happening to Florida and how they can help, please consider the note I received after my lecture at the home of the Miami Heat from Mel Rigo who wrote:

Good afternoon Delaney, I attended the American Airlines Arena Summit last Saturday and was really interested in what you presented. After talking it through with my teacher, we’ve decided to contact you and see if you’d be willing to attend our school … April is Earth month and our students have come up with themes for each week of the month, the first week of April will be water week which is why we would definitely love it if you’d like to attend and speak to our students during lunch. Pines Middle School welcomes you and would greatly appreciate it if you could come and tell us about what could soon be happening to our state. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Melanie Rigo from Pines Middle School

While many of the adults in Washington right now might not understand (or, at the very least, act like they understand) the importance of shifting our economy from fossil fuels to sustainable solutions such as solar, I can tell you that kids most certainly, absolutely, and undeniably ‘get it’ and these three recent groups once again prove that is the case.

As stupid as the suggestion from the adults ‘in charge’ right now might be that they want to expand coal mining or drill everywhere possible including in our National Parks (!), today’s youth are committed to fixing the climate crisis and ensuring that we change our ways.

Of that, I promise.

March for Science Miami

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When I learned of plans to have the first ever March for Science that will take place in Washington on Earth Day (April 22nd), I knew that we had to have a march here in Miami. That very night I created a social media account for a Miami March for Science, as well as a logo patterned after the Washington group’s artwork and began to think of others who would help support all of the cool science taking place in our region and the world.

900_7329f207-b69c-4f7e-8322-9f628fd81358_6587944b-520d-4f6b-bb9f-e075e86c3059_aae036c4-f36f-4c5f-b376-e0e694320656I am so very pleased to share with you that many people in our community are eager to tout the benefits of science and that I have the honor to now be working with some exceptional, passionate, folks who are organizing the official Miami march. A non-profit organization has been formed for the event along with a wonderful website (https://www.sciencemarchmiami.org) and tens of thousands of people have offered to support the effort including a range of local and national organizations, including Miami Waterkeepers, the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Natural History Museum, the Nature Conservancy and the Women’s March Miami to name just a few. In addition to attending the upcoming march, you can even get some seriously cool merch to support the march in the form of tee shirts by visiting the Participate page on our website (https://www.sciencemarchmiami.org/indexhi).

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So come on Miami, mark you calendars for Earth Day, April 22nd, and join us at Museum Park in Downtown Miami at 11:00 am. Please keep an eye out on The Sink or Swim Project’s social media for more ‘Miami March’ news or follow the March on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and please share the details with all your friends. The more people that march on April 22nd and the louder our voices become, the better. We all know that science trumps politics!

A TEDx Talk Mother’s Day Gift

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I am humbled and excited to share with you that the video for the TEDx Talk that I gave on sea level rise earlier this year has just been released and I cannot think of a better day to share it with everyone than Mother’s Day.

The reason that sharing this with you today is so appropriate is because of the wonderful support that my mother (and father and brother) has given to me is beyond anything that I could have hoped for and is part of the reason that The Sink or Swim Project has touched thousands of people in such a short time.

I sincerely hope that you will share this TEDx Talk with as many people as possible. The topic and the message are very important to South Florida, our country, and our planet. As you will see, the talk focuses on the fact that our planet is warming, seas are rising, that we must and can overcome political obstacles that protect old habits, and that the children of my generation “get it” and will demand solutions, as well as lead the way during our lifetimes to implement them.

Thank you to my mother for all of her love and support and happy Mother’s Day to your moms. The love of a mother is like no other and should be cherished, and that includes cherishing our environment and Mother Earth.