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It’s an incredibly exciting day in Florida today and one that’s filled with hope for the future as two historic voyages take important steps in journies that hold the promise to change our world for the better for generations to come. I do hope that you will come along for the ride.

Near 4:30 pm EST this afternoon two brave astronauts plan to blast off into space from Florida soil for the first time in nearly a decade as they depart on a mission to the International Space Station as a first step in America’s quest to travel to Mars. In a historic public/private business partnership with America’s space agency (NASA), Elon Musk’s SpaceX will send two brave astronauts on a scientific mission that holds the promise of mankind’s future dreams of discovery and inspiration.

FL Webinar

And speaking of historic milestones in the making, back here on earth today at 12 pm EST seven brave young friends of mine and I will participate in a webinar along with our lawyers that’s being hosted by The Invading Sea to discuss the constitutional climate change lawsuit we filed in April 2018. In today’s webinar we will talk about the fact that we will finally have our first day in an actual court on June 1st at 1:15 PM when the Honorable Kevin J. Carroll, Circuit Court Judge, considers the state’s Motion to Dismiss our case as well as our response to the State at the Leon County Courthouse in Tallahassee.

During today’s webinar we will also participate in a Q&A with co-host The Invading Sea, a news and editorial collaborative on climate change. We plan to answer your questions about the constitutional foundation of our case, the experiences my friends and I as plaintiffs have had that led us, a bunch of kids, to file the lawsuit, and what we are asking the court to do and why.

Our core complaint centers on the fact that the State of Florida is violating our constitutional rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness, by allowing harm to take place to constitutionally protected, essential public trust resources. I can tell you that we feel more strongly about those allegations today than ever before. My friends and I are desperately afraid that without material action by our government to enforce its laws and protect us that special places that we love (that you love) and cherish all over Florida will be lost forever.

To join today’s webinar please visit: https://bit.ly/2WJm2vC. To learn more about Reynolds v. State of Florida, please visit the Our Children’s Trust website here: https://www.ourchildrenstrust.org/florida and to submit any questions you might want addressed during today’s webinar please send them to: erin.barnhart@ourchildrenstrust.org.

Yes, it’s a historic time for science here in Florida. The countdown has begun for America to return to space, including one day visiting Mars, while a countdown focused on protecting our precious environment’s future back here on earth prepares for an important next step. It’s history in the making and the stakes are ultra-high in both cases. I do hope that you will join my friends and I on today’s webinar, as well as for next week’s hearing (stay tuned for the public link so you can watch!) and, until then, wish Godspeed to our brave astronauts and everyone at NASA and SpaceX in support of their mission.

Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize

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I am truly fortunate to live my academic dream every day here at the University of Miami where I am now a Junior in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science (RSMAS) while pursuing a double major in Marine Science and Geology, as well as a minor in Climate Policy. The University and RSMAS are perhaps the best academic institution of its type in the world and I just love it. I know that’s a bit of a “nerdy” thing to say about one’s school but it’s also true. The world-class professors. My classes. Our facilities. My classmates. Our Administration. I even love walking (and right now very much miss this due to COVID-19) through our gorgeous subtropical campus environment and admiring the amazing landscaping that’s everywhere you look. It’s great, as we say around here, to be a Miami Hurricane.

But today, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, brings me a humbling surprise from the University that I will forever cherish and would like to also share with you. In the midst of a terrible pandemic, our ever growing climate crisis, and political discord that I worry about every day, comes an incredible honor within the following letter to me from Dr. Julio Frenk, President of the University of Miami.

Dear Delaney,

Congratulations! You are a recipient of the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize. It is my honor to bestow on you the attached certificate commemorating this recognition of your important contributions to the sustainability and environmental stewardship of the University of Miami campus.

We hope you will watch a special video announcement on this 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The University website for all of today’s virtual activities is https://greenu.miami.edu/topics/nature/earth-day/index.html.

With my best wishes for your health and safety,

Julio Frenk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.
President, University of Miami
Interim CEO, University of Miami Health System
Professor of Public Health Sciences

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The letter, and the certificate he kindly shared, is incredible but to think that such a busy professional, someone on the front line of fighting COVID-19 in our community and world would take time to film the 5 minute (!) video about Earth Day and the winners of this auspicious award is just a remarkable testimony to why I so love this place. The University is a special institution filled with special people doing monumental, lasting, work and that’s clear from Dr. Frenk’s comments in announcing the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize when he wrote the following to the entire U of Miami Community:

Today marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, a call to action for the protection of our environment, which was inspired by student activism and unity around shared ideals. Earth Day is now celebrated in nearly 200 countries, serving as an annual reminder of the interconnectedness of our global community.

The historic times in which we are living bring this interconnectedness into clear focus. Now, more than ever, we see how individual actions affect collective wellbeing. If there is a silver lining to sheltering in place, it is that we have slowed down activities that have a damaging impact on our planet. The human family is getting the opportunity to reimagine our routines. We are getting a glimpse of possibilities—from telehealth to virtual events—that have the potential to help us lighten our carbon footprint and preserve irreplaceable habitats.

This morning, I announced the 2020 winners of the Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foote Prize , which recognizes individuals in the University of Miami community who make meaningful and lasting contributions to the beauty and sustainability of our campus. This year’s winners include a group who led teach-ins to educate the University community on environmental matters and buried a time capsule on the first Earth Day, along with a current junior recently recognized among global young activists in National Geographic magazine. They beautifully demonstrate the vision and spirit of service that ’Canes have in common across generations.

Thank you, Dr. Frenk, and thanks to everyone at the University of Miami for your dedication to sustainability, environmental stewardship, and forward-thinking vision to make every aspect of our world a better place on Earth Day and all the other days of the year. Like I said, It’s Great To Be A Miami Hurricane.

Whether COVID-19 or Climate Change, Trust in Science

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Today, more than ever, science and scientists are the key to our collective futures. Doctors and nurses are heroically saving lives while putting their own lives at risk in the process. Chemists and biologists will soon be saviors when they invent a cure. As we seek expert solutions to the pandemic, it is my hope that the COVID-19 crisis will make clear the profound importance of science and scientists to our society. And when it comes to our climate crisis, respect for science can help us all unite to solve the crisis by better understanding the scientific research that predicts, for example, that coastal communities including South Florida are at risk of extinction from sea level rise.

Consider a new scientific study that illustrates how grave the future is unless society quickly moves away from fossil fuels and embraces sustainable energy everywhere. Researchers from the University of Illinois, University of Hawaii, and the U.S. government studied over 200 tide gauges and concluded that in about 30 years the accelerating speed of sea level rise will cause what are today rare flooding events to become annual occurrences for over 70% of the U.S. coastline, according to the study published in Scientific Reports. And by 2100, flooding currently considered a once in a lifetime event will become a daily high tide occurrence for more than 90% of coastal communities.

These scenarios threaten to cause billions of dollars in damage, along with the very viability of some communities to exist. Major cities such as Honolulu, New Orleans, and yes, Miami, the place I call home, will become increasingly vulnerable to flooding and stronger storms fueled by the global heating caused by human activity. The time is past due to listen to the science and act accordingly.

Thankfully, the world’s youth get it. We are deeply worried about the climate crisis and those concerns permeate political affiliation, race, religion, or economic standing. As we mark the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, consider the diversity of young people profiled in the April National Geographic article Fighting for Their Future, highlighting young climate activists from Rwanda, Nepal, Sweden, Canada, England, and including myself from Miami. We embrace the science and want to see our governments quickly lead us into a sustainable future before it’s too late for places we love like No Name Key, Miami, and the Everglades that are at risk of being forever lost due to our fossil fuel use.

And that’s why, in April 2018, seven of my friends and I filed a lawsuit, Reynolds v. State of Florida, against the State of Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein, the Florida Department of Agriculture Agriculture and Commissioner Nikki Fried, the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund and the Public Service Commission.

We believe to our core that Floridians have a constitutional right to a stable climate system and that the state government is actively contributing to our climate catastrophe by supporting an antiquated energy system based on fossil fuels. They are demonstrating a deliberate indifference to our fundamental rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness. In doing so, they are violating the Florida Constitution.

We are asking the judiciary to order the government to protect our constitutional rights and create a climate recovery plan to transition Florida’s energy system to one based on clean energy solutions before it’s too late. We believe that when government actions infringe on our constitutional rights, then we must look to the judiciary for protection.

Like the amazing scientists responsible for keeping us safe during the COVID-19 crisis, our legal system should protect our constitutional rights. And just as our scientists will solve the pandemic, it is my hope that at our first hearing, now scheduled for June 1, that Florida’s court system will protect our constitutional rights to a stable climate before it’s too late.

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