I strongly believe that every single citizen of our great nation, most certainly including those here in the fragile yet ever so beautiful State of Florida, have an innate constitutional right to clean air and water. It just seems logical and obvious to me that that should be everyone’s natural right. In fact, those beliefs were central to my landmark litigation Reynolds v. Florida.
For these reasons, I am thrilled to see that nearly 61% of all voters in the State of New York added the right of its citizens to enjoy a clean environment to their state constitution during Tuesday’s elections. America’s politics might be polarizing these days but learning that votes in favor of the New York constitutional amendment far exceeded those against it in 51 of New York’s 62 counties is simply wonderful news.
“New Yorkers have spoken very clearly on making clean air and clean water a legal right. In these otherwise polarizing times, a healthy environment, breathing clear air and drinking clean water are values that bring people together.”
Environmental Advocates NY
Passing this amendment has made New York just the third state in the U.S. to formally recognize protecting citizens environmental rights as an inalienable right within its constitution, and the hope is that others will soon follow. Pennsylvania, for example, has had all sorts of historic struggles with pollution from mining, oil and gas extraction operations, and has had such a law on its books since the early 1970’s. Sadly, the Pennsylvania law faced decades of litigation challenging it before that state’s Supreme Court finally brought the matter to an end in 2013 by ruling in the environment’s (and voters’) favor. Let us hope that the polluters don’t spend nearly as much time tying up the promise that the new New York Amendment holds in the courts and that voters all over America will seek to pass similar legislation (much less vote for public officials that support such common sense concepts).
Supporters of the New York amendment believe that enshrining a constitutional right to clean air and water will require the government to consider environmental effects early on in policy making and give greater weight to people who sue when government fails to do so. Given the importance of our environment here in Florida, wouldn’t it be “nice” if our Governor and other elected state leaders were to suggest and support a ballot initiative like the one that just passed in New York?
Now that would be a ray of Florida Sunshine for sure.
Last week I experienced what people really mean when they say that their phone ‘blew up’ and I am pleased to say that it doing so was because of concern for our environment and especially for our climate crisis and sea rise concerns.
MTV had asked me to take over their Snapchat for a day in advance of the Town Hall I’d filmed for them with VP Al Gore, Steve Aoki, Fat Joe and Gabby Wilson. My young readers know this already but for those of you who have never used Snapchat, then I am here to tell you that it is a very big deal to millennials. How big a deal?
Well, during the day that I told my ‘story’ (that’s what it’s called in Snapchat language), the videos and pictures that I posted were viewed over 2,000,000 times. I still can’t believe it and actually stopped counting at 2,016,000 but the fact that many young people watched what I posted is great news and encourages me (yet again) to believe that today’s youth are serious about solving our climate crisis.
And what did I post in my ‘story’? Well you can watch the entire story by clicking on it below but they were not the typical funny cat videos or other silly internet oriented humor that dominates Snapchat. Some of the posts promoted the show An Inconvenient Special but most talked about what is happening all over South Florida including in Miami, Miami Beach and the Florida Keys. Here is the story (it’s limited to 10 second per video so the entire thing is just two minutes long).
And to watch MTV’s recent Town Hall, An Inconvenient Special, with me, VP Gore, Steve Aoki, Fat Joe and Gabby Wilson please just click the video below.
So what does the more than 2,000,000 views suggest to me? Well the number of views combined with the number of people who emailed or texted me during and since (that’s the part where my phone ‘blew up’) suggests strongly that today’s youth are truly concerned about our warming climate and the crisis that is growing by the day as well as that they want solutions.
And they not only want to get involved, they know that they need to be involved. How do I know this? Well consider the first of several emails I’ve received from my new friend Brianna in New Jersey who wrote:
Hi, my name’s Brianna, and I recently stumbled across an article on MTV’s Snapchat story about climate change and your efforts in stopping it. It was really interesting, so I did more research on your endeavors and found your website.
The fact that a teenage girl like myself could make such an impact was really, really inspiring to me. I just wanted to ask, how did you get started on all of this? For instance, how does one even begin writing and publishing a book, or make a significant difference in/bring awareness to climate change in a community?
I’ve always wanted to make accomplishments like this, and make a difference in the things I believe in, but I often get overwhelmed and never knew how to get started. I apologize for the vagueness of this request, but could you please help me?
Thank you so much for your time. Your achievements and efforts are extremely admirable, and the world is a better place with active fighters like you in it. Keep up the good work! I hope to be like you one day.
Brianna, the truth is that you inspire me.
And the other truth is that we are exactly like one another already in our concerns and desire to fix what’s badly broken. Your concerns and sentiments and all else are examples of why I work so hard to educate and engage young people over our planet’s climate crisis and to create positive changes to help solve the problem. So to you and everyone else who wrote or texted or commented, even those that were negative, thank you for being engaged in the conversation.
And speaking of my recent Snapchat Story I want to end by sharing how truly timely it and MTV’s An Inconvenient Special and especially VP Gore’s new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, is here in South Florida. In the new movie VP Gore explains that our warming climate is experiencing more and more extreme weather including what he called ‘rain bombs’. He talked about how the climate crisis is creating conditions for more severe storms and within them torrential rains that drop an unprecedented amount of water, a ‘rain bomb’, in one place or another.
And his use of the term, and my learning of it from him, is certainly topical based on what happened just the day before I filmed my Snapchat Story for MTV when South Florida was ‘attacked’ by a ‘rain bomb’ that crippled much of our region by dumping an unusually large amount of rain on top of our elevated sea levels to create flooding that crippled many areas. That flooding from ever increasingly severe weather, including ‘rain bombs’ on top of the growing water levels all around us is yet another example of the future South Florida faces in a world of rapidly rising sea levels.
And then, just for ‘fun’, consider what will happen when these type events happen in the years to come when the sea level all around us and the waters under our porous limestone geology are much higher than they are today. Or when they have become so high on their own that they impact our daily lives every day, even without a rain storm or hurricane. That’s the future of South Florida and countless places all over America and the World unless we get serious, seriously soon, and end our use of fossil fuels and stop emitting the carbon pollution that’s causing this crisis.
So whether or not you watch MTV or use Snapchat, I need your help. The good news is that I know that millions of young people share my concerns and that those 2,000,000+ views just scratch the surface of how young people all over our planet feel. I know that I speak for them when I say to those adults in charge today, political ‘leaders’, businesses executives and others that it is time we all get serious and get started solving the problem.
Especially modern alternative rock music from the likes of Pierce the Veil, Sleeping with Sirens, Neck Deep and Fall Out Boy, as well as Electronic (ED) Music from Calvin Harris, Steve Aoki, and The Chainsmokers. And what does music and pop culture have to do with our planet’s climate change crisis you ask? Well, as it turns out, plenty.
WE ONLY GET ONE HOME
Combining my LOVE of music with my climate change concerns along with Nobel Peace Prize winner Vice President Al Gore, Grammy-nominated rapper Fat Joe and legendary DJ Steve Aoki with globally iconic MTV to share what’s happening to our planet seems like a surreal dream.
But I am pleased to share with you that starting on August 2nd at 7:30 PM on MTV you can see that dream come true by watching ‘An Inconvenient Special’, a Town Hall that I filmed recently at the MTV Studios in New York’s Times Square in support of Vice President Gore’s new movie; ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’ that stars Vice President Gore leading a Town Hall to discuss climate change.
I PLEDGE TO #BEINCONVENIENT AND USE MY CHOICE, MY VOICE, MY VOTE
You can read all about the show by visiting MTV News (Julie Zelinger’s article, Meet The Teen Trying To Stop Miami From Going Underwater, for MTV News is especially good and details what’s happening here in South Florida), Rolling Stone or Billboard amongst many other outlets covering the Special.
So how did I, a 17 year old child, have the opportunity to share South Florida’s plight with a potential audience of tens of millions (MTV’s Twitter account alone has more than 15,000,000 followers)?
A couple of months ago I was contacted by MTV and asked to film a Miami focused segment for their ‘An Inconvenient Special’ with Fat Joe who, aside from being famous all over the world for his music, has lived in South Florida for over a decade and told me that he loves raising his family here. Joe and I spent a day filming on the shores of Biscayne Bay at Matheson Hammock Park, a place I learned to swim at and have often visited while conducting field research on sea level rise and one where I’ve filmed my own videos (here’s one example) to illustrate what is happening to South Florida.
Joe and I talked about what’s happening all over the region, what governments like Miami-Dade, Miami Beach and South Miami are doing, what people (including children and young adults) can do to help solve the problem and my view that our planet’s global warming crisis is the biggest challenge that my generation (including his 12 year old daughter Azariah) will face in our lifetimes.
TIME IS RUNNING OUT
A few days after we filmed the segment on Miami’s plight MTV and Vice President Gore’s office contacted me again and asked if I could fly to New York to participate in the Town Hall with Vice President Gore and, of course, I happily accepted. In New York I attended a special screening of the new movie (spoiler alert; it’s fantastic!), rehearsed the show a bit and then filmed it in front of a live audience in their Times Square studio that MTV had branded just for the Special.
“Since I met Delaney I’ve started to debate every night at dinner and you’d be surprised by how many people have denied that this existed and I start arguing with them, like Delaney taught me, and I already see that by having dinner debates how serious this is and we just have to think about people less fortunate, we have to think about the earth and the future, so I’ve been opening my eyes to it and learning more about it. It’s a real serious thing. Just think about the hundreds of millions of people who are going to be affected by this.”
– Rapper & Music Producer Fat Joe
In addition to Vice President Gore leading the Town Hall, we were joined by Steve Aoki who served as celebrity correspondent and took questions from the audience, MTV News Correspondent Gaby Wilson who served as moderator and Fat Joe who shared his perspective as a South Floridian and someone who, like me, is concerned about the impact of climate change on communities that might not easily be able to afford to move to higher ground (or as his hit song might say, All The Way Up).
IT’S NOT TOO LATE
The Town Hall audience was truly excellent and had wonderful questions for the Vice President, Joe and myself so I sure hope you will either tune in or set your DVR and catch ‘An Inconvenient Special’. And I especially hope you will tell all of your friends and family to tune in too because we will need everyone‘s help to change our behaviors and solve our climate crisis before it’s too late.
Viacom Networks, MTV’s owner, has declared the week of July 31st as ‘An Inconvenient Week’ and will be sharing climate change content on social, digital and on-air media across its 10 channels including MTV, VH1, Comedy Central, Spike, LOGO, BET, CMT, TV Land, Nick@Nite and Teen Nick. You can learn more by watching each of these station’s social media channels and can tune in in all sorts of ways including the following:
MTV: Wednesday August 2nd at 7:30 PM
BET: Wednesday August 2nd at 11:00 PM
VH1: Friday August 4th at 5:00 PM (ET)
Thanks to Vice President Al Gore for his friendship and inspiration but especially for his incredible dedication to solving our planet’s climate crisis. To learn more about his work, the new book and movie please visit www.inconvenientsequel.com. And to become involved in solving climate change please visit Climate Reality and consider signing up for an upcoming Climate Leadership Training course like the one I attended a few years ago here in Miami.
Thanks also to Miami born Steve Aoki and especially to Fat Joe, who I am happy has chosen to make Miami his home and for so enthusiastically joining the climate discussion. We need both of you, Steve and Joe, to take the message about what’s happening to South Florida and the rest of the world to your global audiences (and dinner tables all over earth!) before its too late.
And to MTV and everyone involved in your exceptional work here and in New York in making this show, much less including me and my message, THANK YOU. Thanks Gaby, Kim, Lindsey, Amanda, Alan, Elise, Elmer, Andrea, Jason, Daniel, Christine, Mike, Andrea, Melanie, Wanda, and Dani!
THIS IS ON US
In February 2017 MTV learned that over 70% of its viewers ages 16 to 26 are very worried about environmental protection including climate change. That’s important because young people will soon be forced to solve our world’s climate crisis and shift our society from fossil fuel energy to one where sustainable power such as solar and wind dominate.
That percentage does not surprise me, it’s similar to what I see with my work, but it gives me great hope that by working together we can solve this epic problem. As a step in the right direction towards solving the problem please consider learning more by tuning into An Inconvenient Special this week and then taking a friend to see the movie starting August 4th.