Category Archives: Miami Dade County

Bravo Broward! Miami-Dade’s School Children Deserve Better From Our School Board & County


It’s time that the Miami-Dade School Board and the Miami-Dade County Commission get serious about our climate change crisis and the future that Miami-Dade’s children face in a South Florida that will be increasingly impacted from sea level rise. Those children need to be informed about the facts and science behind climate change, including sea level predictions so that they can become engaged in creating sustainable solutions to mitigate and, hopefully, solve the problem. We do not have time to allow climate change to be seen as a political issue and to not educate and engage students who will be so directly impacted by this growing crisis is unacceptable.

Miami-Dade County’s public school system has about 345,000 students attending 392 schools. The children in those schools will soon inherit the climate change crisis and it will be up to today’s kids to most directly fix problems that threaten South Florida’s very future. To say that we face a significant challenge is a ridiculous understatement and for that reason I’ve been trying to get the Miami-Dade County School Board and the Miami-Dade County Commission’s attention in hopes that, together, we can create programs to educate, engage and energize children about climate change. Such work could start small with an hour a year of climate change science education.

I am not alone in my knowing that the sooner we educate our region’s children the sooner they can commence to being a powerful part of the solution. The lack of a response from the County and School Board to requests that we discuss creating a program and platform for students is a growing frustration by many here in Miami-Dade. Unfortunately, the  leaders of a number of forward thinking local institutions all over Miami-Dade have expressed their frustration to me, the same frustration I’ve had, over the lack of response or action I’ve received from the Miami-Dade School Board, its Superintendent and various people in the Miami-Dade County government, when approached about creating a such program. The time has come to re-double our efforts.

Miami-Dade’s apparent lack of interest in what will be the greatest challenge today’s children face in their lifetimes needs to change and it needs to change quickly. We have a moral obligation, I feel, to inform children about climate science and to provide them opportunities to create sustainable programs that can make our community, country and world a better, cleaner place for the rest of their lives and for generations to come. Sadly, the adults in charge of the County and School Board are letting our children down and that needs to change.


The good news, and it’s really great news, is that our neighbor immediately to the North, Broward County, is enthusiastically engaging children about climate change and sustainability and has already laid the groundwork for Miami-Dade to learn from and, I would hope, follow. Broward County Public Schools, in partnership with Broward County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, has created a platform for climate change inspiration that offer opportunities for its 271,500 students and 234 schools to learn about the science and become part of the sustainable solutions we so desperately need. Broward’s visionary leadership led to yesterday’s very first ever Broward Youth Climate Summit and to understand how serious Broward’s adults are about helping students engage in solving our climate crisis, to see how those amazing adults truly ‘get it’, you need only read the Broward Youth Climate Summit’s Mission Statement which begins as follows:

To convene, engage, connect and empower young people for action on climate change in South Florida through the Youth Climate Summit and other leadership opportunities, and to create a climate literate generation who: understands the essential principals of climate science, communicates about climate and climate change in a meaningful way.


And to those who wonder whether encouraging young kids to learn about climate change or become involved in sustainability solutions is a good idea I can tell you first hand that it works beautifully in Broward County. As the Key Note Speaker Panel’s Moderator yesterday I’ve seen what the amazing teachers from all over Broward, happily supported by the Broward County School Board and Broward County’s government itself, are doing. And most importantly, I’ve seen how it is being wildly embraced by children in Middle and High Schools from all over Broward County.

What I saw yesterday gave me tremendous hope for our future yet it also frustrated me to think that Miami-Dade, perhaps the most at risk community in North America from the threat of sea level rise, does not have a similar program or such a strong commitment.

500 children packed the Global Events Center in downtown Fort Lauderdale for the day long student Summit and for an hour and a half those children listened to esteemed experts from all over South Florida talk about our climate change crisis and sustainability. People like Dr. Ben Kirtman from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, Carey Stanton from the National Wildlife Federation, Professor Jeff Huber from the School of Architecture at FAU, Jackie Ventura from The Miami Heat, Teresa Frontado from WLRN and Zalalem Adefris, the Resilience Director at Catalyst Miami.  These incredible professionals talked about sustainability, solar and, yes, they shared hard climate science facts with the children.

IMG_0857Let me repeat that.

500 Middle and High School children listened to a panel of adults discuss climate change and sustainability for an hour and a half yesterday.

And what did they do after the panel finished their session? The children came up the microphones and asked question after question. The children craved answers and engagement. Just as I see at every single climate lecture that I give at schools all over South Florida, Broward’s kids understand that we have a problem, they know carbon is killing our atmosphere and oceans and they want to be part of the solution. They simply need a platform to become involved and thankfully Broward’s School Board and County government understand that and how serious this topic truly is to our region’s very future, to their student’s future here in South Florida.

Bravo Broward!

Miami-Dade’s children deserve the same level of commitment from our School Board, Superintendent, County Government and Mayor as children in Broward have. Miami-Dade children deserve better. Our climate change crisis and the resulting sea level rise threat is the most important issue Miami-Dade’s children will face in their lifetimes here in South Florida and the time has come for the adults in charge to understand this and get serious about educating and engaging students.

Allow me to thank some of the incredible people in Broward who played a role in yesterday’s Broward Youth Climate Summit. Thanks to the amazing Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Director & Chief Resilience Officer for the Broward County Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division, Dr. Carolina Maran, Robert Rudolph, Victor Suarez, Maena Angelotti, Kim Mayo and Scott Lewis. Thanks as well to School Board Member (District 3) Heather Brinkworth, Susan Cantrick, Director of Broward County Public Schools Applied Learning Department, Dr. Lisa Milenkovic, Megan West, Rebecca Malones, Jaime Akkusu, Justin Weaver, Jill Horowitz and Sheryl Arriola. Thank you for allowing me to moderate yesterday’s panel and including me in your inaugural event but mostly thank you for what you are doing to educate and inspire the generations that will need to fully solve our climate crisis. For that, I know I speak for many when I say, I am grateful to each of you and your colleagues.

I’d also like to thank each of the panelists who participated yesterday and gave such meaningful insight to everyone in attendance. Your insights about your professional work much less your educations and all else inspired many yesterday, most certainly me, and for being with us in Broward thank you.

To learn more about the 2019 Broward Youth Climate Summit, its program and the Key Note Speakers who joined me yesterday please click here

iPrep Academy Kids ‘Get It’


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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C2462D7D-A995-4111-BF4A-1A35E52DEE16 E0BDAE20-5878-40BA-A6A6-F205F4977C59

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.

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.

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