March Madness 2023


Every March sports fans all over America and beyond go “mad” for the college basketball tournament that culminates by crowning the best men and women’s team as champion. The tournaments, collectively referred to as “March Madness,” are always filled with surprises, upsets and stories of triumph that go well beyond the games themselves. This year was no different and included an extraordinary, record setting run by both the men and women’s teams here at my beloved University of Miami where I am a graduate student and before that earned my undergrad degree.

Our men’s team culminated a historic season by making the Final Four for the first time in school history before being defeated by the eventual National Champion, the University of Connecticut. The ladies’ team – led by my long-time friend, middle and high school summer camp coach, and incredible inspiration, Coach Katie Meier – made history by reaching the Elite Eight for the first time in school history before being defeated by the eventual ladies’ National Champion, Louisiana State University. Congrats to everyone at the U and especially to the team, coaches, administrators, and fans that cheered the Canes on to these lofty heights for the first time in our history (It’s Great to be a Miami Hurricane as we say around these parts).

And speaking of March Madness, can you imagine just how difficult it must be to manage school while playing Division I college sports and the rest of one’s life as is the case for each member of these teams? The long hours every day, hard work, dedication, and countless sacrifices certainly led to fantastic (record setting even) success and resonate with me because those have long been foundational traits that I’ve tried to embrace in my own work. And while at 5’2” tall and after two knee operations (from playing basketball no less), my days of playing competitive hoops are over. But, I’d like to share a bit about my own March Madness this year as I worked to balance school and all else during what’s been an awfully busy month for The Sink or Swim Project and my own environmental endeavors. In addition to my studies (I am currently finishing my second year of law school and the first year of my Ph.D. studies), the madness in recent weeks has included:


Thanks to the folks at BLUE Missions ( for having me give a presentation to their Building Young Leaders student group. The students participate in a three-month impact leadership training to learn how to create positive changes in their communities and I was honored to share a bit about my work, as well as my concerns related to our climate crisis and how young people all over the globe must solve this problem during our lifetimes. In addition to my lecture I also participated in a photoshoot that BLUE Missions plans to use for their Young Leaders campaign that is being promoted in local schools so that students can see what members of our communities are doing to fight environmental issues. And later in the month I was honored to also record a discussion with BLUE Missions for their upcoming Climate Cure Podcast so please stay tuned for news about its release!

Thanks again to Danny, Leslie, Nicole, Tayler, Ashley, and the entire BLUE Missions team, as well as their dedicated group of young student leaders.

IMG_9993 IMG_9995 IMG_9990
IMG_0025 IMG_0009 IMG_0002

For the second year in a row the esteemed Aspen Institute held its climate crisis symposium (Aspen Ideas: Climate 2023) right here in Miami-Dade County. I was pleased to attend plenaries and panel discussions addressing mitigation and adaptation efforts, sea level rise and flooding solutions, renewable energy technologies, food and agricultural impacts, and more. I was especially excited to attend the “Come Hell or High-Water” panel moderated by one of my professors from the University of Miami, Dr. Katharine Mach, discussing managed retreat and climate gentrification.

The symposium was packed with climate and sustainability leaders from all over the world including Colette Pichon Battle, Nadege Green, Susan Crawford, and Jake Bittle to name just a few from the day I was able to attend. The day ended with a fantastic plenary that included Ali Zaidi, White House climate czar; Dan Gelber, Mayor of the City of Miami Beach; Pat Gruber, CEO of Gevo, a company creating low-carbon jet fuel and gasoline; Amy Knowles, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of Miami Beach; Michael Green, Founder and Principal of Michael Green Architecture, a leader in sustainable wood construction and innovation; and, yes, THE Bill Nye “the science guy” (Bill, Bill, Bill, Bill!).

Allow me to also share that in order to attend this year’s event I had to not only plan ahead for my schoolwork but leave the symposium site on Miami Beach that day to attend my “Environmental Planning and the Environmental Impact Statement” class on the University of Miami’s Key Biscayne Campus (The Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science) before darting back to the symposium for its afternoon and evening events. To say I was exhausted (the symposium started at 9:00 AM and took an hour’s drive in traffic to get to) by the end of the day is an understatement but it was time well spent even if it made for a tiring few days.


As I was leaving the Aspen conference near 10:00 PM that night and checked my email for one last time that day, I was pleasantly surprised to find an invitation from the White House to greet Vice President Harris the very next day here in Miami where she was scheduled to be Aspen Ideas conference’s closing Keynote speaker. Talk about March Madness!

Needless to say, I immediately accepted the invitation. I was and remain honored by the invitation and to be able to spend a short time with Vice President Harris and her staff. I am deeply grateful to her and the President for their climate-related work, including the Inflation Reduction Act, while also understanding that much work to be done (shutting down the Willow Project would be a good next step!). Thanks to Miami-Dade County Mayor Levine Cava and her team for suggesting me as one of the people to meet the Vice President and to the Vice President’s team for making me feel so welcome.

IMG_0139 IMG_3129 2ceaadb2-8c4a-4946-a1b3-ed06b1f8c082
IMG_0172 IMG_0226

My time with the Vice President took place at Miami International Airport where her plane, known as Air Force II, landed right in front of where I waited to meet her. No sooner than that event was over I boarded an evening flight to Sarasota, Florida where I spent the next two days conducting shark research with Mote Marine Laboratory and Dr. Demian Chapman, a world-renowned shark scientist, at the invitation of Leisha John and Greg Hamra, and the folks at Earthwatch (

During my time at Mote, I was able to assist with experiments testing the sensitivity of different shark species’ ampullae of lorenzini (electroreceptive pores on the front of sharks’ snouts that detect electric fields) to magnetism, as well as spend time out on the water on the boat shark tagging. As you can see in the pic above, we caught a beautiful eight-foot bull shark and collected data from her that will contribute to genetic, population, and tracking research projects. As I’ve mentioned many times in various blogs, I love sharks, and so getting to conduct research with Dr. Chapman at the laboratory founded by Eugenie Clark, founder of Mote and a pioneer for women in shark science and STEM fields in general, was a dream come true.

Thanks again to Leisha and Greg for the invite and to the Board of Directors for your hospitality, as well as wonderful work over the years.


And finally allow me to share that nearer the end of the month I proudly participated in a World Water Day panel discussion hosted by BLUE Missions at Bay 13 Brewery with Daniel Rodriguez, President of BLUE Missions; Keely Weyker, Director of Engagement and Outreach for The Everglades Foundation; Erin Cover, Education and Outreach Manager for Miami Waterkeeper; and Matt Anderson, Assistant Director of Mobility and Sustainability for The City of Coral Gables Office of Sustainability. We talked about a range of topics including water quality issues, salt water encroachment, the threat that the Everglades National Park faces, and more.

Over the past two years of my law and Ph.D. related studies there were occasions when juggling all my work, between school and The Sink or Swim Project, were, candidly, challenging. I know that a lot of my followers, whether students or working professionals, grapple with these same challenges between your day-to-day responsibilities in school and/or work and wanting to help protect our precious environment or play a meaningful role in whatever cause(s) inspires you.

I get it.

Choices and what are often hard personal sacrifices are certainly required, but at the end of the day (and by the end of our lives), is there anything more important than being able to help make things better? I hope that sharing a bit about my own “March Madness” proves in some small way that it’s certainly possible to balance all of your priorities, even the occasional surprise, and that the next time you’re invited to a rally, government meeting, or some other event where your view and voice can make a positive difference you will consider that, if I can manage all of these types of things, then you can too.

Dalton Georgia: From Carpet Capital of the World to America’s Solar Manufacturing Capital

Dalton Georgia and the Northwestern part of that state were literally put on the map in the early 1900’s by an inspiring combination of the invention of the automobile, the paving of U.S. Highway 41 that then ran from Michigan to Miami, and the ingenuity of a 15-year-old entrepreneur with a fifth-grade education by the name of Catherine Evans-Whitener.


Catherine was born in Northwest Georgia in 1880 and when she was just 12 saw what’s called a tufted quilt during a family visit to her cousin’s home. She quickly fell in love with quilting and spent the next three years mastering her craft and giving away her creations as gifts. Her work became so popular that by the time she turned 15 she had created a small business that sold hand-made quilts to people who would drive from Miami to Michigan and all sorts of places in between in that new invention called the automobile and on that newly paved road that went through the town she lived in. By 1917 she and her family created the Evans Manufacturing Company that, in addition to quilts and tufted bedspreads, evolved into selling machine made carpets. Soon other woman in the region were inspired by Catherine’s success and were opening their own textile companies all over Northwest Georgia. Today, Dalton and the Northwest Georgia region is known as the ‘Carpet Capital of the World’ and employs over 30,000 people who work in over 150 carpet mills and about 100 carpet outlets.

“By 2027, the Qcells expansion is projected to supply about 30% of total U.S. demand for solar panels. I think it’s fair to say that this deal is President Biden’s vision come to life.”

John Podesta
White House Senior Advisor for Clean Energy Innovation & Implementation

And by now you might be asking yourself what does a 15 year old elementary school dropout and carpet manufacturing have to do with solving our climate crisis? Well, just maybe, a lot. You see, in 2022 Georgia Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act to create tax incentives designed to dramatically increase domestic solar manufacturing here in the United States. The bill was included in the Biden Administration’s landmark 2022 Inflation Reduction Act and may serve, some say, to help transition the United States into the solar equipment manufacturing capital of the world. I sure hope that is exactly what happens, that America becomes the dominate manufacture of solar parts and equipment on the planet. If that’s to happen then it appears it will start in Dalton Georgia, the same region that Catherine started her industry.

“We are seeking to further expand our low-carbon solar investments as we lead the industry towards fully American-made clean energy solutions,”

Justin Lee, CEO, Qcells

You see, a South Korean company by the name of Hanwha Qcells announced this week that it is investing $2.5 Billion to expand its existing Dalton Georgia plant and to also build a new plant there in Northwest Georgia. The White House has also just announced that the Qcells news represents the nation’s single largest investment in solar manufacturing in American history. Whether from an economic perspective, our national security or the climate crisis, this investment and news is wonderful.

Qcells currently manufactures solar parts that are capable of generating 1.7 gigawatts of electricity each year at its Dalton plant. But after the expansions the company will be able to make 8.4 gigawatts worth of modules (about 10,000 solar panels) per year, which will include a capacity of 5.1 gigawatts in Dalton and 3.3 gigawatts in its nearby Cartersville factory. Once completed the new facility will represent the first and only entirely domestic supply chain here in the United States by making solar panels, silicon ingots, wafers and cells (currently China dominates such manufacturing, especially ingots and wafers) and result in the creation of 2,500 good paying jobs.

Qcell’s parent company (Hanwha) spent over a year doing due diligence to search for the best location for its expansion and investment. Ultimately, the company narrowed its choice down to Georgia, South Carolina, and Texas before selecting Georgia. And, as good as the news in Georgia is, one can’t help but wonder why the so called “Sunshine State’s” (Florida) government is never, ever mentioned as being at the forefront of brining this type of investment and innovation, much less the solutions we need to reduce carbon and help solve our climate crisis. Florida is at dire risk from our world’s climate crisis including rising sea levels and the sooner our leaders (especially people like Governor DeSantis and US Senators Rubio and Scott) become part of the solution by leading and facilitating the type of investment that’s taking place in Georgia, rather than supporting antiquated industries and their pollution, the better.

And speaking of investment, although it’s not nearly enough (yet) to solve the climate crisis I think it’s fair to say that this White House, especially through 2022, has made commendable strides in putting America’s money where the problem is. The Biden Administration has driven an estimated $300 billion in private investment in electric vehicles, semiconductors, clean energy, and batteries to help push America’s transition from a fossil fueled based economy to one based on sustainable energy solutions. Bravo.

But as good as this news is (and it’s truly excellent) I just can’t help but wonder and worry about Florida’s future.

Nearly $25 billion of the $300 Billion I just mentioned is being invested in the State of Georgia including two $5 billion electric vehicle plants, and a $4 Billion battery plant (just last month Hyundai announced that it is building an electric vehicle plant in Georgia while also partnering with another South Korean company [SK Group] to build a battery plant in Northwest Georgia). If all of this seemingly began with a 15-year-old Georgia girl’s skill at quilting, can you imagine what a group of inspired Floridian’s could do together to evolve industry, create countless jobs, and help play a role in solving the most significant challenge mankind has ever faced?

Game Over: The Carbon Credit Arcade


“A voluntary carbon credit program won’t guarantee deep, real cuts in emissions – it’s tantamount to rearranging the deck chairs as the climate ship is going down.”

Rachel Cleetus
Policy Director & Lead Economist
Climate and Energy Program
The Union of Concerned Scientists


Money continues to be a main topic of discussion here in Egypt as evidenced by Wednesday, what’s called “Finance Day” at COP27, when the United States announced the creation of a carbon credit financing device called the Energy Transition Accelerator. It was one of the biggest, yet also most controversial, pieces of news here in Egypt when U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, the Bezos Earth Fund, and The Rockefeller Foundation announced the creation of the Energy Transition Accelerator (ETA) as a tool that they are touting as a catalyst of private capital for the clean energy transition in emerging and developing economies. Joining them in support of the ETA were Chile, Nigeria, SEforALL, EDF, PepsiCo, Microsoft, RMI, C2ES, CPI, and Global Optimism.

“If we’re going to phase out fossil fuels in our energy systems, we believe voluntary carbon markets have a role to play. They must have high standards on both the supply side and demand side with appropriate environmental and social safeguards. The purpose of the proposed scheme is precisely to design and agree to such standards, then to move to implementation. The need is urgent, and we must bring people together to move the needle forward.”

Andrew Steer
President of the Bezos Earth Fund

As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, according to the IEA, the world needs upwards of four trillion dollars in clean energy investment annually, half of which is required in developing and emerging economies. The newly announced ETA process aims to design a new carbon credit program to channel private sector investment to phase out fossil fuels and accelerate renewable energy. While every idea to reduce the world’s carbon footprint should be considered, and perhaps there will be occasions where carbon credits are helpful, my fear is that allowing businesses to obtain credits for their own carbon output by making sustainable investments elsewhere is not the same thing as actually eliminating fossil fuel and gas use.


Many fear that this credit system will not be sufficient enough, when we should be demanding serious solutions to the most serious problem our planet faces. The key is to reduce our green house gas emissions and this idea of carbon credits is more akin to an arcade game where you earn credits towards winning a prize. Of course, our climate crisis is not being played in an arcade or for tokens, but in the real world impacting real people and our natural environment.

“Rapidly decarbonizing the power system around the world is fundamental to tackling the climate crisis. We appreciate that the US State Department is pursuing an innovative approach to scaling up investments and private capital to accelerate developing countries’ transition to cleaner energy. Done right, leveraging voluntary carbon markets can help unlock billions of dollars from the private sector to accelerate the energy transition. There is a reason that carbon offsets have been associated with greenwashing, which must absolutely be avoided.

I agree wholeheartedly with UNSG António Guterres that the only credible pathway to reaching net-zero starts with companies making deep emissions reductions within their own operations and value chains. At the same time, we very much welcome companies investing in high-quality carbon credits that promote climate action beyond their value chain while generating much-needed funding to hasten the energy transition in developing countries.”

Ani Dasgupta
President & CEO
World Resources Institute

Burning fossil fuels for power generation in emerging and developing economies accounted for 9.8 billion tons of CO2 emissions in 2020, double the annual emissions of the United States. Without sufficient investment to reduce these emissions it will be impossible to prevent the worst of the climate crisis. The creators of the ETA feel that a fair energy transition will offer the opportunity to connect billions of people to reliable, renewable electricity, many for the first time.

“Humanity is already being battered by climate change—at 3 degrees of warming, life for too many people will be not only hot but harsher, poorer, and more fragile. To avoid that fate, the world must come together in new ways and behind new innovations like the ETA, which could, for the first time, unlock the true potential of carbon markets to scale resources needed for clean energy transitions. Our teams will work in the year ahead to answer the hard questions required to reimagine what’s possible.”

Dr. Rajiv J. Shah
President of The Rockefeller Foundation

Over the next year, the plan is that the Bezos Earth Fund, The Rockefeller Foundation, and the U.S. State Department will engage with developing countries, political and thought leaders, climate champions, and the world’s foremost experts to design the ETA. The Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI), the Voluntary Carbon Markets Initiative (VCMI), the Integrity Council for the Voluntary Carbon Market (ICVCM), and WRI for the Greenhouse Gas Protocol will be consulted to ensure broad alignment with best practice environmental and carbon market standards.

The intent of their plan is to gather input and expertise from the people and institutions with the know-how and networks to design an ETA that produces verified greenhouse gas emission reductions which participating jurisdictions will have the option of issuing as marketable carbon credits. The idea is that the credits could then be purchased by companies, including through advanced purchase agreements, which would create a predictable finance stream to de-risk and leverage other forms of finance. The process will focus on a methodology designed to operate at a broad or jurisdictional scale while steering carbon finance to discrete projects.


Any revenue eventually raised through the ETA would, the partners say, supplement other sources of finance being mobilized by governments, donors, and multilateral and private financial institutions in support of developing countries’ energy transition. The ETA partners plan to have 5% of the value of all credits generated through the ETA dedicated to international support for adaptation, and over the next 12 months they plan to address several challenging topics including:

  • A methodology which contains rigorous protocols for crediting and for monitoring, reporting, and verification so that any carbon credits generated are real, additional, and permanent;
  • Rules and safeguards, which ensure that the use of carbon credits by companies is consistent with a science-aligned net zero pathway. Participating companies will need to achieve deep reductions in their own value chain emissions, with emission reductions generated through the ETA supplementing their internal abatement;
  • Parameters that maintain integrity while ensuring sufficient supply (i.e. developing country participation) and demand (i.e. company participation);
  • Guidance for social safeguards, benefit-sharing arrangements and support for job creation and training in participating jurisdictions;
  • Stringent end-to-end transparency guidelines.

“All that matters now is speed and scale. Corporations must urgently reduce emissions in line with a 1.5 degree pathway and they must also be part of providing much needed finance flows to support the energy transition around the world. I hope many take that opportunity.”

Christiana Figueres
Former Executive Secretary UNFCCC
Co-Founder of Global Optimism

Carbon crediting has long been a controversial topic among many in the climate movement who, like me, want to see a transition that starts with an actual reduction followed by the elimination of fossil fuels and gases by all stakeholders as soon as possible (see video above). And with that in mind, allow me to end this post as it began, with the words of Rachel Cleetus from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

“Carbon offsets are not an answer in a world already on fire, under water and facing mounting climate losses and damage. While the exact details are still unclear, the outlines of the US proposal are out of step with the science, which calls for steep, absolute emission reductions as soon as possible if we are to have any chance of meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. The private sector can and must play an important role in tackling the climate crisis.

Low- and middle-income countries need grants-based public finance from richer countries to help them quickly transition away from fossil fuels, alongside the rest of the world. That’s what the U.S. must deliver, rather than questionable carbon offset schemes that risk allowing companies to pollute at the expense of the planet.”

Rachel Cleetus
Policy Director & Lead Economist
Climate and Energy Program
The Union of Concerned Scientists

1 2 3 59