Category Archives: New York

Start Spreading The News: New Yorkers Vote For The Right to A Clean Environment

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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.”
Peter Iwanowicz
Executive Director
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.

 

2,000,000 +

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.

Brianna

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 Delaney,

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

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.

‘Rain Bombs’

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 if a region can be crippled by a severe rain storm as reported by the Miami Herald (click here to read Cleanup But Few Closures The Day After Floodwaters Soaked Cities) consider what will happen when a large hurricane slowly passes our region and drops an unimaginable volume of water on top of our already elevated 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.

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