“I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain.
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain.”
Let me start by stating the obvious. I’m only sixteen and I’m not old enough to vote. Heck, I do not have a political affiliation, but unlike the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, I do have a brain and my brain leads me to wonder if most of the politicians running for president either have one or are willing to use the one that they have.
Frankly, it does not matter to me if our next president is a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. What does matter to me is that whoever gets elected to the highest office in our government is dedicated to lead our country, and the world, to make the critical changes that are needed in order to both slow and stop global warming and sea level rise before places like South Florida disappear, underwater, forever.
The way the Presidential candidates are acting by avoiding this topic suggests they might not have or be using their brain. How else can one explain the lack of conversation in nearly any of the political debates thus far? The lack of questions from the mass media in these ‘debates’ also makes me wonder what they are thinking, or if they are thinking, or well, if they have a brain so to speak. How else can anyone explain so little discussion or debate or even questions on an issue that’s this important to our nation and the world?
In my view, the candidate that paints a vision for a future that does not rely on fossil fuels, a future where a place like the “Sunshine State” can become the “Solar State” (and in the process generate most of our power from solar power), a future where he or she inspires our country’s creative minds to find innovative solutions to our power needs like President Kennedy once did when announcing that America would find a way to put people on the moon in just a few short years, and someone that generally makes solving climate change and sea level rise one of his or her top priorities is a candidate that I am confident tens of millions of voters will be inspired by and vote for.
Sadly, the presidential debates for both parties have had little to no discussion about the candidates’ views on climate change. This week, here in Florida, that must change for many reasons including:
1) Voters and children of voters, including children in my generation who will soon inherit this growing global problem, deserve answers and desperately want solutions.
2) By the time that I am about 60 years of age, in about 45 years, scientists predict that seas will rise three feet, if not higher, here in South Florida. Three feet of sea level rise in a place like South Florida that is already close to sea level will be catastrophic in places like the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, the Everglades, and others.
3) Many local communities including Pinecrest, South Miami, and Miami Beach are forced to lead the way in seeking solutions while our state’s governor and many of the people running for president stand by and do or say absolutely nothing. Miami Beach, for example, is in the process of spending $ 450 Million on a pumping system to remove the salty sea water that has covered many of its streets in recent years, and yet that is only the start of the solutions that that island community will need if it is going to survive.
If these local communities and their thoughtful leaders understand that we can’t wait to start seeking solutions and changing, then how is it that these supposedely educated people running for President avoid and deny the topic? I apologize for being so direct, but I have to ask whether they are stupid or just protecting the same industries and approaches that have caused this problem by pumping carbon into our atmosphere and oceans? And while we are at it why is the media not making a bigger issue of all of this for all of us?
Does Marco Rubio, for example, a former City Councilman from the City of West Miami, not care about this in his own community? Does he not care about his children’s future here in South Florida? How else can you explain how often he deines the role man has played over time in causing sea level rise or his lack of a vision to address this problem in a meaningful way? He’s either protecting his special interest supporters or not using his brain, but either is unacceptable.
4) According to the Army Corps of Engingeers, it is predicted that within 29 years the City of Key West will be subject to 15 inches of sea level rise above today’s levels and that it will suffer from flooded streets covered in salt water 300 days per year.
5) According to the World Resources Institute, Miami has the largest amount of exposed assets and the fourth-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world. Most experts estimate that updwards of $100 Billion (and growing) of property in South Florida is at risk from sea level rise over the next few decades.
6) According to NOAA, 2015 was the warmest year on record in 136 years of data breaking the record set just one year earlier in 2014.
I could go on and on with more scientific facts and figures, but the point is that the world’s climate is changing, that humans have played a significant role and in a place like South Florida sea levels are rising more each year. Our country and the world desperately needs a leader that understands that this is a serious issue that is not going away and is, in fact, accelerating to the point that it will soon change entire communities, enviroments and lives forever if the citizens of the world don’t act and if our leader’s don’t lead.
This week’s Republican debate on the campus of the University of Miami, as well as the Democratic debate at Miami Dade College, offers each candidate and the media a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into the topic of climate change. There is nowhere in the United States of America where the topic of global warming, and especially sea level rise, is more important than here in South Florida.
The time has come for the media to demand that each candidate express their views on global warming and sea level rise, whether it is a concern that they will address if elected, and if so, answer how they will lead our country and our community in the future as we strive to solve the coming catastrophe. Voters and viewers of all ages deserve nothing less than a robust debate so that we can all understand the candidates views and decide who is best able to lead our country and the world on this very important topic.
Here’s to hoping that CNN and Univision will demand real answers about what each candidate will do to help America address our planet’s warming climate and rising temperatures before it’s too late and in doing so that some of the candidates will stop acting like the Scarecrow who sings…
“I’d unravel every riddle
For any individual
In trouble or in pain.
With the thoughts you’ll be thinkin’
You could be another Lincoln
If you only had a brain.
Oh, I could tell you why the ocean’s near the shore.
I could think of things I never thunk before
And then I’d sit and think some more.
I would not be just a nothin’
My head all full of stuffin’
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry
Life would be a ding-a-derry
If I only had a brain.
Gosh, it would be awful pleasin’
To reason out the reason
For things I can’t explain.
Then perhaps I’ll deserve you
And be even worthy of you.
If I only had a brain.”
Lyrics from The Wizard of Oz‘s If I Only Had a Brain, written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg