Category Archives: Florida

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Tomorrow, June 1st, my friends and I will get our first actual day in Court (albeit via zoom due to COVID-19) in our climate change lawsuit, Reynolds V. Florida, which we filed in April 2018. Since the suit was filed, the State and elected officials including the Governor, have done everything they can to have it delayed and dismissed. And yet again, that will be the point of Monday’s Hearing; the Judge will consider the state’s most recent request to dismiss our lawsuit which seeks to have the state enforce the laws that are already in place and is designed to protect the environment, including our precious atmosphere.

While our state government has let all of us down in protecting our climate, oceans and atmosphere, someone who has long supported me and my passion to fix the problem before it’s too late, someone who has never let me down, is my dear friend Dick Jacobs. Dick has posted guest blogs here at The Sink or Swim Project before and I am about to share another one with you that he wrote recently about the lawsuit. But before I do I want to make what is a very, deeply personal observation.

Dick, as you will read, is 89 and has been bravely fighting stage IV melanoma cancer for several years in what is, seriously, a fight for his life. Over the last year I’ve unfortunately had to learn a lot about cancer as my mother was diagnosed and then has been battling breast cancer. She has bravely and stoically navigated through dozens of doctor and hospital visits, decisions about chemotherapy, radiation and four surgeries. Whether you are 89 like Dick or 52 like my mom, cancer is, needless to say, a very serious matter.

And yet even at his age and dealing with such a critical issue, here is Dick, just as passionate about the need for our world to address our climate change crisis for future generations before it’s too late as are any of my friends and I who are the plaintiffs in this lawsuit. Talk about an “inspiration”, a word people sometimes use when referring to us kids for asking the court to make the state to do the right thing. Nah. If you want to learn about a real inspiration then you need to learn about Dick Jacobs. He’s a real inspiration. And a hero.

And you know what else? To those who say they can’t do anything to solve the climate crisis or are too old to care or some such thing, then I hope you will consider my friend Dick who is right in the middle of the fight, on the front lines, at nearly 90 years of age. He knows the stakes are high for future generations and is serious about wanting to leave the world he’s lived in for nearly nine decades in better shape for that future than it’s been during his life. And that’s what I want too. To fix the climate crisis before it’s too late so that kids in the future can enjoy the places that I love and cherish but that are at risk of disappearing from our fossil fuel use. No matter your age I sure do hope you will join us in the most important battle that my generation will ever face and if you don’t believe me then consider the wisdom that Dick offers…

These gutsy kids called out Florida officials on climate change | Column

They will have their day in court on Monday. A long-time attorney explains why they’ve sued.

The kids with Dick Jacobs on courthouse steps in Miami in April 2018. Learn more at ourchildrenstrust.org/florida. [Courtesy of Robin Loznak, Our Children's Trust]

The kids with Dick Jacobs on courthouse steps in Miami in April 2018. Learn more at ourchildrenstrust.org/florida. [Courtesy of Robin Loznak, Our Children’s Trust]

My name is Dick Jacobs. I’m 89 years old, mostly a retired business attorney. For the past four years I’ve been in the fight of my life battling stage IV melanoma cancer. But as tough as that fight is, there’s another life or death battle – one that is a far tougher, and more important than my bout with cancer – that’s inspired me to action.

It all started after more than four decades of venture travel, trekking over the seven continents and writing Wonderlust, which chronicled my treks and the lessons I learned about caring for our Earth, the only home we have. I became convinced that I had to devote myself to helping our Earth with its growing cancer.

Thus, I became involved with eight gutsy kids and their suit against Florida, its governor and its key officials. The kids’ lawsuit isn’t about money. Their lawsuit is about protecting the kids’ constitutional, and fundamental rights, sourced in ancient laws over 1,500 years old, to a stable climate, which is essential to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

The kids are represented by a bevy of pro-bono, top notch trial lawyers from the Panhandle to Miami. The team of lawyers originally included the late Sandy D’Alemberte. Sandy was President of the American Bar Association and both President of Florida State University and Dean of their law school. Sandy was known as “The Father of Florida’s constitutional law” and believed in the profound importance of this case and the rights of these kids to get their day in court, as do all the lawyers involved.

On April 16, 2018, when the initial complaint was filed in the Leon County Court, I sent a thank you message to the trial lawyers on our team. It said: “As I read the final draft of the complaint, before I go to Moffitt Cancer Center this morning for the next step in my cancer treatment, I could not help but reflect on something that may surprise you: I am a registered Republican. I have always been a registered Republican, ever since I voted for Eisenhower for President in 1952. Unfortunately, the political party I once cherished has distorted the meaning of ‘conservative,’ which is grounded in ‘conserve,’ which means to preserve and protect, not to exploit or destroy. Florida’s leadership has totally abandoned those fundamental ideals.”

The email ended with, “These gutsy children, and this great team of trial attorneys, will remind us all of that being conservative means to conserve, to care for the only home we will ever have for ourselves and our future generations. This effort will make a difference. Thank you all.”

These young people—and young people across the globe—know that their future depends on the actions we take right now. They understand there is a short window to avoid the worst impacts of climate change by transitioning to clean energy solutions. They know Florida needs a plan to end the fossil fuel energy system the state has perpetuated.

These kids are role models for us all. I’ve heard comments shaming their parents for using their kids as pawns, putting them up to the litigation. Nothing could be further from the truth. As we met with the kids, it became clear that the kids were genuinely worried about the impacts of climate change on their future and they weren’t being pushed into this by parents. An amazingly sharp group, the youngest was Levi, then 8 years old. Levi’s been on 60 Minutes. Delaney Reynolds, now a University of Miami student, has been a speaker on climate issues before the United Nations. Luxha Aliheligi Phillips, an articulate 14 year old when I met her, is now a climate refugee, having left Miami. She is not alone. And it’s predicted that 2.5 million more people will be leaving Miami in the not too distant future because of global warming and rising seas.

The kids deserve our support. Won’t you stand with them before it’s too late?

Dick Jacobs, senior counsel with Johnson Pope law firm, practiced law in Pinellas County for more than 50 years. Learn more about the kids and their lawsuit.

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It’s an incredibly exciting day in Florida today and one that’s filled with hope for the future as two historic voyages take important steps in journies that hold the promise to change our world for the better for generations to come. I do hope that you will come along for the ride.

Near 4:30 pm EST this afternoon two brave astronauts plan to blast off into space from Florida soil for the first time in nearly a decade as they depart on a mission to the International Space Station as a first step in America’s quest to travel to Mars. In a historic public/private business partnership with America’s space agency (NASA), Elon Musk’s SpaceX will send two brave astronauts on a scientific mission that holds the promise of mankind’s future dreams of discovery and inspiration.

FL Webinar

And speaking of historic milestones in the making, back here on earth today at 12 pm EST seven brave young friends of mine and I will participate in a webinar along with our lawyers that’s being hosted by The Invading Sea to discuss the constitutional climate change lawsuit we filed in April 2018. In today’s webinar we will talk about the fact that we will finally have our first day in an actual court on June 1st at 1:15 PM when the Honorable Kevin J. Carroll, Circuit Court Judge, considers the state’s Motion to Dismiss our case as well as our response to the State at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee.

During today’s webinar we will also participate in a Q&A with co-host The Invading Sea, a news and editorial collaborative on climate change. We plan to answer your questions about the constitutional foundation of our case, the experiences my friends and I as plaintiffs have had that led us, a bunch of kids, to file the lawsuit, and what we are asking the court to do and why.

Our core complaint centers on the fact that the State of Florida is violating our constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, by allowing harm to take place to constitutionally protected, essential public trust resources. I can tell you that we feel more strongly about those allegations today than ever before. My friends and I are desperately afraid that without material action by our government to enforce its laws and protect us that special places that we love (that you love) and cherish all over Florida will be lost forever.

To join today’s webinar please visit: https://bit.ly/2WJm2vC. To learn more about Reynolds v. State of Florida, please visit the Our Children’s Trust website here: https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/florida and to submit any questions you might want addressed during today’s webinar please send them to: erin.barnhart@ourchildrenstrust.org.

Yes, it’s a historic time for science here in Florida. The countdown has begun for America to return to space, including one day visiting Mars, while a countdown focused on protecting our precious environment’s future back here on earth prepares for an important next step. It’s history in the making and the stakes are ultra-high in both cases. I do hope that you will join my friends and I on today’s webinar, as well as for next week’s hearing (stay tuned for the public link so you can watch!) and, until then, wish Godspeed to our brave astronauts and everyone at NASA and SpaceX in support of their mission.

Why Things Are Different (& Better) Three Years Later

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Two evenings in March of 2016 taught me much of what I ever needed to know about Presidential politics, as well as a few things I wish none of us had to ever learn. That spring provided our community and country an amazing opportunity to discuss what is easily the most important challenge that my generation will ever face during our time here on earth: our global climate crisis. That’s when both the Republican and Democratic Party each held nationally televised debates right here in Miami amongst the then six remaining candidates.

Climate change was, as it is today, on a great many people’s minds and yet the media and most of the candidates failed America in 2016. Over the course of those two nights and their four hours of nationally televised “debate”, the candidates spent just 9½ minutes discussing climate change. And what did the national media do to address the most important topic of our time? They asked just two questions, one each night. Talk about a “fail”.

The topic was so overlooked that on one of those nights the question on climate did not surface until 1½ hours into the two hour event. To say it was not a priority to the candidates or media is an understatement and was, in many ways, educational to my then 16 year old self. You can read more about those debates in a blog that I wrote at the time entitled 9½ Minutes by clicking here.

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Fast forward three years and three months later and we have a candidate, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee, who is largely running on one single topic: protecting our environment with a specific focus on our climate change crisis. Something tells me that the good Governor himself might just spend more than 9½ minutes on the topic later this week whether the journalists prompt him to or not.

We also now have the New Green Deal, a potentially transformational prospective plan to address our climate crisis that’s being embraced by many of the Democratic candidates.

And perhaps most importantly, each of the candidates, all 20 that will appear on television from Miami later this week, are openly and often even aggressively talking about their plans to address climate change. More than half of them have pledged to not accept money from fossil fuel businesses. All have created plans to address the issue.

In 2016 two candidates, Senator Cruz from oil rich Texas, and the man who shockingly became President, Donald Trump, unsurprisingly never even mentioned climate change. That can’t happen this or next year. At every debate, starting with this week’s two Democratic events here in Miami, the media must press the candidates to speak to the issue. Journalists and candidates have a moral obligation to my generation and all that shall follow to address this topic and make it the priority. Almost 100% of democratic voters believe that our climate change crisis is a matter of great importance to our country and, thus, I hope that NBC News, which is moderating, will act like it understands that people want to hear candidates address the issue. Rather than bury it deep into the night, how about we start each evening’s questions here in Miami by discussing climate change?

In the time since being elected, President Trump and his administration have done everything possible to embrace fossil fuel producers and polluters, roll back America’s Clean Power Plan, pull out of the Paris Climate Acord, tout “clean coal” (there is no such thing, it’s a lie) and diminish scientists and the science, including the Administration’s very own November 2018 National Climate Assessment that (once again) made clear that earth is warming and humans’ use of fossil fuels are the key cause. In places all over America, and especially here in South Florida, we no longer have room for such nonsense. We can’t allow Republicans to sell their souls and our future by supporting gas and coal in return for polluted votes. We must (and we can) elect leaders at all levels of our government that support the absolute elimination of fossil fuel use within my lifetime and, in doing so, transition our economy to sustainable energy. Time is running out.

The stakes over this issue are much greater than those votes in coal and gas rich states or, for that matter, the brief time one would hold an elected office. And, yes, even in those states that still rely on coal and gas, a future of clean, well-paying jobs in sustainable energy should be seen as part of the solution in regions that are often desperate for hope. And, of course, the very survival of places like where this week’s debates will actually be held (South Florida) is also at stake and we need to be discussing that before our region disappears under water to the point where future debates can’t be held here.

So come on NBC News and the 20 assembled candidates that will be in sunny South Florida this week, show us that things are different in 2019! Show us that you are truly serious about taking bold steps to solve our climate crisis and helping transform America. Dig deep and get away from the sound bites and prove that you understand what’s at stake as our climate warms. Voters are watching and this time we expect more than 9½ lousy minutes on the topic that defines our generation.

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