Category Archives: Florida

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.

Step Aside, It’s Our Turn to Fix What’s Wrong

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“I haven’t seen a movement like this, period,” Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie, whose district includes Parkland, said last week after an estimated 1 million U.S. students walked out of class. “I think it can be a critical turning point in the politics of this country.”

Some say that the children that are speaking up and out are too young to voice their views, but I beg to differ.

My friends and I, my peers, youth all over the world are connected to one another, literally wired to one another, like has never been possible in all of history.

The only world we know is a wired one and within it we have a world of information, of answers, in our pockets. We’ve grown up accessing information and connecting with one another at the speed of light our entire lives. And when we have questions, or want something, you might have noticed that we are not particularly patient. And that’s especially true when it’s something that common sense tells us needs to get fixed. We are the most informed generation in history and we have the tools to make transformational change at our fingertips.

When our parents and grandparents fiddle with their own phones and tablets and computers to the point of frustration, it’s us, their children and grandchildren, that you turn to and ask us to fix whatever’s wrong. We are the fixers you’ve been turning to since we were young and we’ve not let you down yet.

And now the time has come for young people all over the world to fix the messes we see and sense all around us. Those problems that adults before us created or keep overlooking as they tolerate the pollution, murder, apathy and something, that for some reason they call a political ‘system’, that permeates our society.

“The power of the youth has been displayed,” said Minisee, the Youth EMPOWER organizer, “and we are going to be reckoned with.”

I am incredibly inspired by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas students from Parkland, their strength, their will and their passion. We can agree that it’s unconscionable that you had to be placed in this position in the first place but you are well armed, yes armed, to change the world. And you are already making a breathtaking difference and are political forces setting an example for our generation to run over any and every one who stands in our way of fixing what’s broken here in the United States. I proudly stand with the MSD children and children all over our country and the world who demand sensible gun laws including a ban on automatic weapons and devices that turn ‘semi’ automatic into automatic machine guns. It’s just common sense to outlaw these weapons of war.

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Likewise, I am inspired by the young people all over America that comprise Our Children’s Trust, kids that are taking on our state and federal governments in court by suing them to demand that they protect our environment for future generations. The fact that we must wage such a legal fight is unfortunate but it’s a fight that we will gladly spend our lifetimes fighting so as to fix what’s broken. Carbon from fossil fuels has no place in our environment and eliminating it while fighting the global climate crisis is the biggest challenge that my generation will ever face but it is one we must and will overcome. Yes today’s youth will fix our climate crisis and we will not allow anyone to stand in our way.

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To consider how truly different things are today, how kids in my generation will not settle for ‘politics as usual’ I hope that you will please consider reading an excellent article by David Smiley entitled Youths Mobilize for Change After Parkland that can be found here.

Please also consider sitting down and having an ‘adult’ conversation with your children or grandchildren about their thoughts on gun violence, the need for an automatic weapons ban or the fact that we must stop pumping fossil fuel pollution into our oceans and atmosphere and shift to sustainable energy such as solar before it’s too late. You might be surprised by how engaged and enraged we are over the fact that these issues exist as well as how committed we are to fixing them.

And speaking of fixing things, please consider supporting your children and grandchildren by voting with them or, for those too young to vote, by voting for them, and for their future. I would hope that today’s adults will step up and set their bias aside by applying common sense to fixing things while they are still ‘in charge’ but in the event you choose not to help then I promise you that my generation will do it ourselves.

Don’t believe me?

Just watch how quickly we elect new leaders that truly support common sense solutions or how fast we move to enact the laws we need to fix what’s broken.

My connected, compassionate friends and I, are ready to fix things, and this time I’m not talking about helping you with installing your latest phone update. No, this time I am talking about fixing what’s wrong in our world. So either help us or step aside because our time, my generation’s time, has arrived.

iPrep Academy Kids ‘Get It’

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Even thought it’s summer, the last month and a half for me and The Sink or Swim Project have been very busy. A blur on most days really with so much to do it reminds me of a song from the play Hamilton, ‘writing like you’re running out of time’. In fact, as I type this blog entry I am sitting in the airport to head back to New York for an incredible project that I will be able to tell you about very soon.

But before I head back to the Big Apple, I just have to share with you one of the very best experiences I had at a school when I was fortunate to speak at iPrep Academy, a magnet school that focuses on teaching in a technology-rich environment., just before the end of the school year.

Based on the old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few pictures from my wonderful visit at iPrep:

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As much as I hoped to inspire the iPrep Academy students during my visit, the truth is, as so often happens, these children inspired me.  Their passion and knowledge about climate change and sea level rise, about what is happening here to South Florida and what will happen in their (and my) lifetime was evident in their comments, questions and concerns.

The hope they gave me that day confirms that, together, our generation will solve our climate crisis.

So thank you Ms. Maria Thorne for having me at iPrep Academy and for leading a new generation of environmental stewards into the future to help fight climate change.

And thanks especially to your incredible students for their passion, as well as for giving me great hope that they will work with me to help solve our global climate crisis. As I always like to say, ‘Kids Get It’ and that was the case at iPrep Academy.

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