If I Only Had A Brain

Scarecrow

“I could while away the hours
Conferrin’ with the flowers
Consultin’ with the rain.
And my head I’d be scratchin’
While my thoughts were busy hatchin’
If I only had a brain.” 

Let me start by stating the obvious. I’m only sixteen and I’m not old enough to vote. Heck, I do not have a political affiliation, but unlike the Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz, I do have a brain and my brain leads me to wonder if most of the politicians running for president either have one or are willing to use the one that they have.

Frankly, it does not matter to me if our next president is a Democrat, Republican, or Independent. What does matter to me is that whoever gets elected to the highest office in our government is dedicated to lead our country, and the world, to make the critical changes that are needed in order to both slow and stop global warming and sea level rise before places like South Florida disappear, underwater, forever.

The way the Presidential candidates are acting by avoiding this topic suggests they might not have or be using their brain. How else can one explain the lack of conversation in nearly any of the political debates thus far? The lack of questions from the mass media in these ‘debates’ also makes me wonder what they are thinking, or if they are thinking, or well, if they have a brain so to speak. How else can anyone explain so little discussion or debate or even questions on an issue that’s this important to our nation and the world?

In my view, the candidate that paints a vision for a future that does not rely on fossil fuels, a future where a place like the “Sunshine State” can become the “Solar State” (and in the process generate most of our power from solar power), a future where he or she inspires our country’s creative minds to find innovative solutions to our power needs like President Kennedy once did when announcing that America would find a way to put people on the moon in just a few short years, and someone that generally makes solving climate change and sea level rise one of his or her top priorities is a candidate that I am confident tens of millions of voters will be inspired by and vote for.

Democratic presidential candidates U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (L) and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton debate duringthe first official Democratic candidates debate of the 2016 presidential campaign in Las Vegas, Nevada October 13, 2015. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson - RTS4CQD

Sadly, the presidential debates for both parties have had little to no discussion about the candidates’ views on climate change. This week, here in Florida, that must change for many reasons including:

1) Voters and children of voters, including children in my generation who will soon inherit this growing global problem, deserve answers and desperately want solutions.

2) By the time that I am about 60 years of age, in about 45 years, scientists predict that seas will rise three feet, if not higher, here in South Florida. Three feet of sea level rise in a place like South Florida that is already close to sea level will be catastrophic in places like the Florida Keys, Key Biscayne, Miami Beach, the Everglades, and others.

3) Many local communities including Pinecrest, South Miami, and Miami Beach are forced to lead the way in seeking solutions while our state’s governor and many of the people running for president stand by and do or say absolutely nothing. Miami Beach, for example, is in the process of spending $ 450 Million on a pumping system to remove the salty sea water that has covered many of its streets in recent years, and yet that is only the start of the solutions that that island community will need if it is going to survive.

If these local communities and their thoughtful leaders understand that we can’t wait to start seeking solutions and changing, then how is it that these supposedely educated people running for President avoid and deny the topic? I apologize for being so direct, but I have to ask whether they are stupid or just protecting the same industries and approaches that have caused this problem by pumping carbon into our atmosphere and oceans? And while we are at it why is the media not making a bigger issue of all of this for all of us?

Does Marco Rubio, for example, a former City Councilman from the City of West Miami, not care about this in his own community? Does he not care about his children’s future here in South Florida? How else can you explain how often he deines the role man has played over time in causing sea level rise or his lack of a vision to address this problem in a meaningful way? He’s either protecting his special interest supporters or not using his brain, but either is unacceptable.

4) According to the Army Corps of Engingeers, it is predicted that within 29 years the City of Key West will be subject to 15 inches of sea level rise above today’s levels and that it will suffer from flooded streets covered in salt water 300 days per year.

5) According to the World Resources Institute, Miami has the largest amount of exposed assets and the fourth-largest population vulnerable to sea-level rise in the world. Most experts estimate that updwards of $100 Billion (and growing) of property in South Florida is at risk from sea level rise over the next few decades.

6) According to NOAA, 2015 was the warmest year on record in 136 years of data breaking the record set just one year earlier in 2014.

I could go on and on with more scientific facts and figures, but the point is that the world’s climate is changing, that humans have played a significant role and in a place like South Florida sea levels are rising more each year. Our country and the world desperately needs a leader that understands that this is a serious issue that is not going away and is, in fact, accelerating to the point that it will soon change entire communities, enviroments and lives forever if the citizens of the world don’t act and if our leader’s don’t lead. Republican Debate

This week’s Republican debate on the campus of the University of Miami, as well as the Democratic debate at Miami Dade College, offers each candidate and the media a unique opportunity to take a deep dive into the topic of climate change. There is nowhere in the United States of America where the topic of global warming, and especially sea level rise, is more important than here in South Florida.

The time has come for the media to demand that each candidate express their views on global warming and sea level rise, whether it is a concern that they will address if elected, and if so, answer how they will lead our country and our community in the future as we strive to solve the coming catastrophe. Voters and viewers of all ages deserve nothing less than a robust debate so that we can all understand the candidates views and decide who is best able to lead our country and the world on this very important topic.

Here’s to hoping that CNN and Univision will demand real answers about what each candidate will do to help America address our planet’s warming climate and rising temperatures before it’s too late and in doing so that some of the candidates will stop acting like the Scarecrow who sings…

“I’d unravel every riddle

For any individual

In trouble or in pain. 

With the thoughts you’ll be thinkin’

You could be another Lincoln

If you only had a brain. 

Oh, I could tell you why the ocean’s near the shore. 

I could think of things I never thunk before

And then I’d sit and think some more. 

I would not be just a nothin’

My head all full of stuffin’

My heart all full of pain. 

I would dance and be merry

Life would be a ding-a-derry

If I only had a brain. 

Gosh, it would be awful pleasin’

To reason out the reason

For things I can’t explain. 

Then perhaps I’ll deserve you

And be even worthy of you. 

If I only had a brain.”

Lyrics from The Wizard of Oz‘s If I Only Had a Brain, written by Harold Arlen and E.Y. Harburg

Ahead of the Tide

AHEAD OF THE TIDE: CHAPTER 1

I’m super excited to share the first chapter in a 10 part series special event on sea level rise and hope that you will watch this video, as well as share it with everyone that you know.

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Ahead of the Tide is more than a gorgeous, thought provoking video series. It is a movement, a call to action, which highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of real people here in Florida. I sincerely hope that you will not only watch each video in the series but that you will join the Ahead of the Tide movement because together we can, we must, solve this problem.

Each video in the series is five to seven minutes long and will showcase different issues related to sea level rise including perspectives from scientists, engineers, politicians, educators, authors, activists and many others. These stories vividly paint a picture that can leave no doubt that our planet’s warming temperatures and rising seas are an ever growing, urgent threat that we must begin to solve in meaningful ways before it’s too late.

David Smith is an environmentalist, a skilled pilot, executive producer, director husband and father. He is also the founder of the incredible non-profit organization, CAVU (www.cavu.org), that made this film, and that has made dozens of artistic, touching environmental films (if you’ve ever wondered how to tell jaguars apart take a look at their campaign: Cockscomb Jaguar Proud, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iw7kAohP6k). David is also a dear, caring friend to The Sink or Swim Project and want you to know that, without a doubt, he and his team have made a very important, groundbreaking, environmental films series with their Ahead of the Tide work. Great work David!

Please check out the first episode on our website, www.miamisearise.com, or at www.aheadofthetide.org. You can and should learn more about Ahead of the Tide and join the movement by visiting their webpage at www.aheadofthetide.org today or contacting us here at www.miamisearise.com.

Now let’s all get Ahead of the Tide before it’s too late!

Roses Are Red, Violets Are Blue, Seas Are Rising, and So Are You

 

The last two weeks have been a blur for The Sink or Swim Project but the next two weeks are even more exciting and I have a lot of news to share with you about some amazing events.

Breakthrough Miami

Before I share news about February, I must share the incredible experience that I enjoyed on Saturday, January the 30th as I lectured to a Breakthrough Miami class of Middle and High School students at Palmer Trinity.

The 80 children and their questions were absolutely incredible. In fact, following my presentation they had almost an hour worth of engaging questions about what will happen, and when, as well as many on possible solutions and how they can spread the word. As I often say, today’s children ‘Get It’ and the students at Breakthrough Miami are a perfect example of this and give me great hope that we absolutely can solve our planet’s global warming and sea level rise problems.

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I must admit that this presentation was unlike any I had ever done before because it was being filmed by a crew from National Geographic’s Years of Living Dangerously (www.yearsoflivingdangerously.com) for inclusion in season two of the Emmy award winning series that will air later this year. A crew flew in from New York, Germany and elsewhere to film The Sink or Swim Project presentation for their upcoming segment on Miami that will have actor/musician Jack Black as its correspondent. The students not only learned about sea level rise that morning but had the opportunity to watch the crew work and even ask all sorts of questions about their process, profession and lives. It was truly a memorable experience and I want to thank National Geographic, the Years Project, Jon, Tomek, and Matt, as well as Gus and Brian from Palmer for their tremendous support.DSC_0333

Coming Attractions of The Sink or Swim Project

Now, onto what will be an incredible month (February) for The Sink or Swim Project’s educational work. Here are the coming attractions:

1. February 15th: Ahead of the Tide

I am so very excited to share with you the launch of a monumental 10 part series on sea level rise entitled Ahead of the Tide that drops its first episode on February 15th. This landmark movement highlights the effects of sea level rise and climate change through the stories and voices of local people here in Florida.

Each video (5 to 7 minutes) will showcase different issues related to sea level rise from scientists, engineers, politicians, educators, authors, activists and others. David Smith of CAVU (www.cavu.org) has made many breathtaking environmental films and from what I’ve seen, thus far, the Ahead of the Tide series will be both stunningly beautiful, as well as deeply thought provoking.

Please check out the trailer on our website, www.miamisearise.com, or at www.aheadofthetide.org where you can sign up to join the movment and make a difference today!

2. February 26th: TEDx Youth@Miami

I love watching TED Talks and I am so very honored to share that I will be presenting my own TEDx talk at the Adrienne Arsht Center’s Knight Concert Hall here in Miami on February 26th! My talk will be about my work on sea level rise and how ‘kids get it’ and how young people, no matter how young, can have an impact in solving the problem. To learn more and even buy tickets, click here!

TEDxYouth-slide3. February 20th & 27th:

On two consecutive Saturdays, the 20th and 27th, The University of Miami will host the Cooper Fellow Training Series two day lecture entitled Empowering Capable Climate Communicators 2016. The training will take place at the University of Miami’s Cox Science Center on the Coral Gables campus from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm both days. It is sponsored by The CLEO Institute, the University of Miami’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Geological Sciences.

Both days will be filled with presentations, discussions and training by some of the world’s leading climate scientists and communicators who will talk about causes, severity and impacts if humane-induced climate change, as well as what must be done to adapt, stop and reverse trends.

I am deeply proud to say that on the 27th I will be presenting a lecture entitled I Have Found My Voice. You Must Too. I plan to discuss the journey that I have been on over the last two years with The Sink or Swim Project’s educational efforts and will illustrate how anyone, no matter their age, can make a difference. Thanks to Dr. Harold Wanless, Chair of The University of Miami Department of Geological Sciences for inviting me to participate.

To learn more about Empowering Capable Climate Communicators 2016 training please click on the following flyer:  

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In lieu of flowers and candy for Valentine’s Day I am off to Hawaii for a week long Marine Biology Expedition. I can’t wait to see what treasures I discover during my first visit to the Pacific Ocean. I plan to swim with giant manta rays and dolphins, search for whales, hike volcanos and explore black sand beaches and rain forests.

I will do my best to post a picture or two on The Sink or Swim Project’s social media when possible and when I return will share some more BIG news with you about how children are making a huge difference in the world and why I know that my generation can and will solve the challenges our planet faces from warming and sea rise. Until then, please consider telling your friends about The Sink or Swim Project and following us on social media.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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