Category Archives: Fossil Fuels

The Solar City of South Miami

Let the sunshine,
let the sun shine in,
the sun shine in

Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In

By 5th Dimension

Something spectacular and very important happened last week at the City of South Miami’s May commission meeting and we all owe Mayor Stoddard and the visionary commission a debt of gratitude for helping lead Florida into a sustainable future.

Early last year I learned that the City of San Francisco had become the third municipality in California to enact an Ordinance requiring solar power to be installed in new construction, as well as significant renovations. San Francisco’s law (click here for a copy of their Ordinance) intrigued me and led me to write several local mayors a letter requesting that they consider implementing a similar law in their municipality. An example of one such letter, in this case to the Village of Palmetto Bay, following a lecture that I gave to a business group there at which its mayor was in attendance, is displayed below.

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I’m happy to report that Mayor Stoddard eagerly responded. As a first step he asked me to find everything possible related to the cities in California that had a similar law and promised that we would work together to draft our own version for his city.

Our first meeting lasted nearly six hours, but it also laid the foundation of the Ordinance the South Miami City Commission passed with a 5-0 vote upon its first reading last week (Click here for the draft of the ordinance). Such a law holds the promise of having South Miami lead the State of Florida into our sustainable future and turning the Sunshine State into my dream that we one day become THE Solar State. I attended the South Miami Commission meeting and during the Public Comments portion of the meeting spoke in favor of the Ordinance and the benefits of solar power. You can watch my presentation in the video below:

Later in the evening when it was time for the commission to discuss and debate the Ordinance, Mayor Stoddard explained its history and the work that we had done together over the past year. To watch Mayor Stoddard discuss the Ordinance, as well as to see what just might turn out to be a historic vote, press play below:

Experts predict that 50% of Florida’s energy can be derived from solar power by the year 2045 if our State begins to get serious about this clean, abundant energy source. Sadly, Florida ranks 14th in the amount of energy we produce from solar power, but the good news is we rank 3rd in our potential to generate power from the sun.

At a time that our State and Country should be dramatically increasing its sustainable use such as solar power, these rankings are a bit discouraging, but not surprising. They are not surprising here in South Florida when one considers that after 92 years of being in business, our local energy monopoly, Florida Power & Light, derives less than 1% of its energy from solar power. Lately FP&L seems to enjoy touting its “dedication to solar power” in its advertising, but facts are facts and their own annual report concludes solar power produces less than 1% of the energy that they generate. Simply stated, FP&L is not committed to sustainable power.

I believe that the time has come to change things. 92 years is far too long to do so little and I think that the days where everyone must obtain their power from one source, from a monopoly, should soon come to an end. A reliance on fossil fuels and of old technologies is destroying our planet and that 1% figure screams that these established businesses are all too happy with the way things are.

When it comes to solar, there is lots of good news and it’s not just in South Miami. At a time when electricity prices are on the rise and our local power company (FP&L) has charged its customers nearly 300 million dollars for a nuclear power facility that may never be built or be many decades off into the future, the cost of solar power has dropped significantly as the chart below illustrates.

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The cost of solar power has decreased over 99% since 1977 and is today the least expensive source of energy in America. Now, all we have to do is implement solar power everywhere and let the sun do the rest.

South Miami is certainly doing its part and that process is to continue next with a review of the Ordinance by the Planning Board, followed by a second reading of the proposed new law by the City Commission later this summer, where they will have the opportunity to make history in Florida and in the United States.

Thanks to Mayor Stoddard and the entire City Commission for their leadership. I also want to thank the City Manager, as well as the City Attorney for their hard work in helping polish our earlier draft, as well as my dreams.

Let me end today’s blog with a challenge. If you have read what we are doing in the City of South Miami, then I want to encourage you, challenge you, to work in your own community to create a similar law. Our country faces many challenges in evolving from a fossil fuel economy to a sustainable one but, if we are to ever make that transition, I believe the solutions will most certainly begin in our local communities, including yours. Within this blog, you have the tools that you need including samples of the existing laws, the newly proposed one, even the letter that I wrote that started it all.

So, I implore you to approach your own local leaders and ask them to help you change the world for the better.

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!

Out of Africa

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“The views were immensely wide. Everything that you saw made for greatness and freedom, and unequalled nobility.”

Karen Blixen, Out of Africa, 1937

On Thursday my brother Owen and I will leave Miami for a two week trip to South Africa and needless to say we are both very excited. Our trip includes visits to Johannesburg, Mpumalanga, Soweto and Cape Town, a camping excursion and safari in Kruger National Park as well as a visit to Mandela House and the opportunity to learn about apartheid by visiting many of its most historic sites. I can’t wait to see the natural environment there as well as meet the people and experience their diverse and historic culture.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to

Change the world.”

Nelson Mandela

Owen and I are fortunate to attend a school (Palmer Trinity) that is committed to developing what they call global scholars. Last year, for example, Owen traveled to China as part of his curriculum and over the years there I’ve been able to visit the Andes Mountains of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands and Hawaii.

I’ve scaled mountains, hiked to the top of volcanoes and swam with white tip sharks, sea turtles and giant manta rays as part of the best high school experience I could ever imagine. This week I am especially excited to travel with my brother on such a trip for the first time (and in my case the last one while still in high school since graduation day is nearly here!).

I’d like to thank Palmer for making these amazing opportunities available to its students and want to especially thank Mr. Chapman, our Head of Upper School, Mrs. Sidhu and Dr. Lane who will be traveling with us on this incredible trip. Time permitting I will post during our travels and will most certainly share stories about our adventures when I return.

“To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. “

Nelson Mandela

 

Post-Scripts:

Palmetto Bay Declares February 6th, Delaney Reynolds &

The Sink or Swim Project Day

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I am proud to share that my work with The Sink or Swim Project was honored last week by the Village of Palmetto Bay with a lovely Proclamation honoring my work.

Upon receiving the Proclamation from the Mayor and Village Council I took the opportunity to ask them to consider working with me to draft a new law to require that any new construction within the Village and all material renovations require that the maximum amount of solar power be installed so that we can make progress into turning The Sunshine State into THE Solar State. I hope that the Village of Palmetto Bay will join me in writing such a law and in doing so help Florida take a giant step forward towards a sustainable future.

Thanks ever so much to the entire Council for this honor and especially to the Mayor for his kind words as well as to Councilwoman Cunningham for taking such an interest in my work and The Sink or Swim Project.

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Miami Dade College Honors College / Earth Ethics Institute: March 2, 2017

I am excited to share that on March 2nd I will be presenting a brand new Sink or Swim lecture at the Miami Dade College Honors College on the North Campus in Room 1373 from 3:30 PM until 5:00 PM.

Since its inception, the Earth Ethics Institute has introduced the Miami Dade College community to the new way of thinking called “Earth Literacy” which constitutes a greater understanding of the evolution of our Universe and how everything in it is connected.

Founded in 1960, Miami Dade College has the largest undergraduate enrollment of any college or university in America.

Thanks to Program Professional Stephen Nesvacil, Miami Dade College and the Earth Ethics Institute for the invitation. I look forward to seeing everyone on the 2nd and collaborating on ideas for a sustainable future.

 

MAST Academy Solar Update: Green Leadership Grant

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Exciting News! As an update to my recent blog (http://miamisearise.com/2017/02/06/the-mast-makos-sustainable-future-kids-get-it/) following my visit to MAST Academy on Key Biscayne I am pleased to share with you that the school is installing a ‘solar hub’ and has won a grant from the Dream in Green organization to help fund its costs. The solar hub is planned for the school’s dining room and will allow students to charge their electronic devices from the sun’s power through a solar system. Congrats to MAST’s Principal Ms. Otero and the entire student body for winning this grant and beginning your solar powered journey! Way to go Makos!

I am extra proud of this news not only given my recent lecture for MAST’s 1,500 students but because I am proudly a Dream in Green Youth Ambassador and in that capacity was happy to advocate for this project.  The Dream in Green Leadership Grant program makes available monthly grants for elementary, middle and high schools that participate in the Dream in Green Academy and does so to support green teams in bringing their project ideas from conception to creation.

I look forward to continuing to help MAST in any way possible in hopes that the solar hub is just the start of a wider scale solar and sustainable program that can be used to educate it students, other schools and the Key Biscayne Community about the power of the sun. Working together we can surely turn The Sunshine State into THE Solar State!

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