Paris

2017-05-30

On Sunday CNN published an article by Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz entitled Ted Cruz: Trump should withdraw from Paris climate pact that asked President Trump to back out of the Paris Climate Agreement and in, doing so, uphold one of Trump’s key campaign promises from the 2016 election. In the article Cruz wrote;

Meeting the 2025 emissions reduction target alone could subtract $250 billion from our GDP and eliminate 2.7 million jobs. The cement, iron and steel, and petroleum refining industries could see their production cut by 21% 19%, and 11% respectively. To read the article please click here.

I cannot confirm Senator Cruz’s figures but I can say that an estimated 2.5 million South Floridians are at risk of becoming Climate Refugees, of being displaced from our region in a future of rising seas. And that’s just here in South Florida. So if you think about it, and assume his 2.7 million figure is close to correct, then those jobs will be about the same number of people in just our region that will be displaced. The number all over America will be tens of millions of people.

And the impact to our citizens, to the Climate Refugees aside, what will happen to those communities that lose their tax paying citizens and trillions of dollars of improvements in the form of roads, bridges, sidewalks, much less people’s homes and businesses? And faced with those types of losses, not to mention the increased health hazards and changes to America’s agriculture industry, how dare Senator Cruz suggest we not work to cool our climate and transition from a fossil fuel economy such as he seems to so love to a sustainable one. How dare he threaten people and use short term fears to avoid protecting our planet and society for the long term.

That said, I can’t say that I am surprised by Senator Cruz’s support for the fossil fuel industry, an industry that is significantly based in his home state of Texas, nor that of polluting businesses such as the coal and steel industry. His comments embody the same old fashioned, antiquated, thinking that those people protecting coal and fossil fuels of the world have been using since the 1970’s when greenhouse gas became a threat to the future of businesses dating to the industrial revolution.

Well it’s time for a new revolution. The Sustainable Revolution.

I will not, of course, be one bit surprised if we learn this week that the President decides to announce that the United States will not abide by the Paris agreement. He of the belief that all things climate change are nothing more than a ‘Chinese hoax’ or from his ever growing universe of ‘alternative facts’ but, then again, in a way I kind of hope that the President does exactly what Senator Cruz suggested.

Trump backing out of the promises our Country made in Paris, backing out of America being a climate and environmental leader for our planet as should be the case, would create yet one more very big reason to demand change in November 2018’s mid-term election much less for making his a one term administration when we get to vote in the 2020 election.

In my live lectures I often make reference to the fact that none of us travel around in horse drawn carriages as would have been the case in the 1700’s and 1800’s when that was the state of the art in transportation.  And I mention that the people who worked to raise, train and care for horses, or build and drive carriages, all had to transition from those jobs to that of the new automobile industry or other jobs and that, when that happened our country, did not collapse. In fact, you can easily argue that things actually improved. And I mention that another such transition has begun, in this case to electric cars and then, in just a few years, the widespread use of autonomous cars. There is no stopping this exciting progress and that is the way things have always been. Progressing. Evolving.

Buggy Car Tesla

Change, invention and revolution are part of who we are as humans so to keep living in the past, a polluting past, makes no sense. What our country needs are leaders not named Trump, Cruz, Scott or Rubio.

People with the vision to inspire and support a logical transition over time from fossil fuels to sustainable solutions.

The type of leader that can inspire new innovations and our country not with fear but with HOPE that America can be the world leader in sustainable energy and, in doing so, create millions of jobs and new businesses while also correcting our climate crisis.

That is the type of leader my generation needs and deserves, one for the future, not one that is stuck in the past.

At the 2013 Values Voter Summit.

The Solar City of South Miami

Let the sunshine,
let the sun shine in,
the sun shine in

Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In

By 5th Dimension

Something spectacular and very important happened last week at the City of South Miami’s May commission meeting and we all owe Mayor Stoddard and the visionary commission a debt of gratitude for helping lead Florida into a sustainable future.

Early last year I learned that the City of San Francisco had become the third municipality in California to enact an Ordinance requiring solar power to be installed in new construction, as well as significant renovations. San Francisco’s law (click here for a copy of their Ordinance) intrigued me and led me to write several local mayors a letter requesting that they consider implementing a similar law in their municipality. An example of one such letter, in this case to the Village of Palmetto Bay, following a lecture that I gave to a business group there at which its mayor was in attendance, is displayed below.

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I’m happy to report that Mayor Stoddard eagerly responded. As a first step he asked me to find everything possible related to the cities in California that had a similar law and promised that we would work together to draft our own version for his city.

Our first meeting lasted nearly six hours, but it also laid the foundation of the Ordinance the South Miami City Commission passed with a 5-0 vote upon its first reading last week (Click here for the draft of the ordinance). Such a law holds the promise of having South Miami lead the State of Florida into our sustainable future and turning the Sunshine State into my dream that we one day become THE Solar State. I attended the South Miami Commission meeting and during the Public Comments portion of the meeting spoke in favor of the Ordinance and the benefits of solar power. You can watch my presentation in the video below:

Later in the evening when it was time for the commission to discuss and debate the Ordinance, Mayor Stoddard explained its history and the work that we had done together over the past year. To watch Mayor Stoddard discuss the Ordinance, as well as to see what just might turn out to be a historic vote, press play below:

Experts predict that 50% of Florida’s energy can be derived from solar power by the year 2045 if our State begins to get serious about this clean, abundant energy source. Sadly, Florida ranks 14th in the amount of energy we produce from solar power, but the good news is we rank 3rd in our potential to generate power from the sun.

At a time that our State and Country should be dramatically increasing its sustainable use such as solar power, these rankings are a bit discouraging, but not surprising. They are not surprising here in South Florida when one considers that after 92 years of being in business, our local energy monopoly, Florida Power & Light, derives less than 1% of its energy from solar power. Lately FP&L seems to enjoy touting its “dedication to solar power” in its advertising, but facts are facts and their own annual report concludes solar power produces less than 1% of the energy that they generate. Simply stated, FP&L is not committed to sustainable power.

I believe that the time has come to change things. 92 years is far too long to do so little and I think that the days where everyone must obtain their power from one source, from a monopoly, should soon come to an end. A reliance on fossil fuels and of old technologies is destroying our planet and that 1% figure screams that these established businesses are all too happy with the way things are.

When it comes to solar, there is lots of good news and it’s not just in South Miami. At a time when electricity prices are on the rise and our local power company (FP&L) has charged its customers nearly 300 million dollars for a nuclear power facility that may never be built or be many decades off into the future, the cost of solar power has dropped significantly as the chart below illustrates.

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The cost of solar power has decreased over 99% since 1977 and is today the least expensive source of energy in America. Now, all we have to do is implement solar power everywhere and let the sun do the rest.

South Miami is certainly doing its part and that process is to continue next with a review of the Ordinance by the Planning Board, followed by a second reading of the proposed new law by the City Commission later this summer, where they will have the opportunity to make history in Florida and in the United States.

Thanks to Mayor Stoddard and the entire City Commission for their leadership. I also want to thank the City Manager, as well as the City Attorney for their hard work in helping polish our earlier draft, as well as my dreams.

Let me end today’s blog with a challenge. If you have read what we are doing in the City of South Miami, then I want to encourage you, challenge you, to work in your own community to create a similar law. Our country faces many challenges in evolving from a fossil fuel economy to a sustainable one but, if we are to ever make that transition, I believe the solutions will most certainly begin in our local communities, including yours. Within this blog, you have the tools that you need including samples of the existing laws, the newly proposed one, even the letter that I wrote that started it all.

So, I implore you to approach your own local leaders and ask them to help you change the world for the better.

Caps & Gowns

Education is, of course, the foundation of all learning and with this in mind, I want to share with you what is likely my last blog post while I am still “officially” a high school student. This Saturday’s graduation ceremony will mark the end of my high school career and, I suppose, the official start to of my college years and life beyond.

With these milestones in mind I would like to share an article that I recently wrote related to the education that I have been fortunate to receive thus far as well as some of my motivations for attending college here in Miami in the form of the many challenges our fragile region faces.

If you are patient enough to read through the entire article, then you will find that I have ended this version with mention, and profound thanks, to many of the wonderful teachers that I have been privileged to learn from over the years. It is to those teachers and mentors schools that I dedicate today’s blog to and to whom I could never say thank you enough for all of your support thus far… 

An Inspirational Environmental Education
Bahama

With high school graduation a few days away I’ve been thinking a lot about my experiences in the classroom as well as what I’ve learned while exploring our magnificent environment and the challenges that our ecology and society will face in my generation’s future. I’ve been fortunate to have hiked to the top of a volcano in the Andes Mountains, swam with Giant Manta Rays at night in Hawaii, chased White Tip Sharks over a coral reef in the Galapagos, slept under a sky illuminated by millions of stars in the Everglades and on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota, and watched lions, elephants, and giraffes roam in the wild while on safari in Africa.

And along the way I’ve been inspired by my teachers, the people I’ve met around the world, my family and friends here at home and most certainly the things I’ve seen in our beautiful, natural world, especially those related to the water. Whether the marshes of the Everglades and our colorful coral reefs, or our sandy shores and whimsical mangrove habitats, it is the water that always touches my soul.

My travels and explorations aside, there’s truly no place like home and its fair to say that my educational experiences, as well as our region’s challenges, have influenced my decision to continue my education, and my work, right here in South Florida. And I could not be more excited. In fact, I can’t think of a better place to study marine biology and the environment, much less to have an impact on shaping our future, than in this special place.

Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond it are being assaulted by South Florida’s growth and our community’s growing desire for fuel from Turkey Point’s antiquated nuclear power plant. Staying in South Florida allows me to work on solutions related to FP&L’s over-heated cooling canals that are leaking tritium, a toxic nuclear chemical, into the helpless waters off of our coast.

And speaking of power, much works needs to be done in our state so as to widely implement solar power so as to turn The Sunshine State into The Solar State. If successful, my generation has the opportunity to lead Florida into a sustainable future that holds the promise of producing an estimated 50% of our power needs from the sun.

As Biscayne Bay ends and the Florida Keys begin, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is home of the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. Our reef is home to over 500 amazing marine animals and plays a vital, but often hidden, role in South Florida’s environment and society. The reef impacts our region’s tourism industry, is habitat and home to an array of animals found in few places on earth, acts as an abundant food source to help feed us and is a natural barrier from destructive hurricanes, yet this spectacular ecosystem is at risk of extinction. Man-made pollution from the carbon dioxide that is being poured into our oceans has led to acidification which is bleaching and, thus, killing this majestic organism. I am looking forward to working to protect what is easily one of South Florida’s most special habitats.

And speaking of habitats, the only Everglades on earth is home to an incredible array of unique creatures and their homes that, together, comprise one of the most magical places on our planet. In a world filled with cell phones and downloads one only need to spend a few moments in the tranquility of the Everglades to see and hear what a treasure it is for all of South Florida.  Unfortunately, the Everglades is also under attack. Encroaching development from Florida’s 20 million residents, water polluted by man-made fertilizer that’s dumped and drained into our waters, and rising sea levels from our global climate crisis, amongst other threats, places the survival of the Everglades at the top of our local list of critical environmental challenges.

Our warming climate and sea level rise places our entire region at risk, and the damage has already begun. Our society must shift from our current fossil fueled economy to one based on sustainable energy or else places like Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, the Everglades and the Florida Keys will simply disappear. 97% of all scientists agree that man-made pollution is warming our climate and forecasts predict that oceans will rise three to six feet, or more, over the next few decades unless we change our ways. South Florida is already seeing the early impact of sea level rise and we are approaching a tipping point where trillions of dollars of real estate improvements and infrastructure, much less our economy, its’ tax basis and environment could be lost unless mankind changes its ways.

While many of these challenges are significant and even verge on ominous, I am confident that my generation has the passion, creativity and fortitude to solve them. Mankind has faced countless challenges ranging from famine, to wars, to space travel, and I am certain that South Florida is worth our best effort and investment to protect it and I look forward to helping lead the way.

So as I step away from one campus to another a few miles across town I say thanks to my teachers, family and friends who understand how important our tropical marine environment is to me and who have so kindly supported and shaped me. You have instilled into me a passion for our beautiful natural world that will last a lifetime and for that I am truly grateful.

Allow me to end this blog post by recognizing some of the most gifted and special people that you would ever want to meet: my teachers and mentors who have helped shape and educate me.

At Alexander Montessori, thanks to Ms. Arboleda, Ms. Becton, Mrs. Carlson, Mrs. McClendon, Mr. McGhee, Mrs. McGhee;

In Middle School at Palmer Trinity, thanks to Mr. Evans, Dr. Nagel, Ms. Rolling, Mrs. Schael, Mr. Tolmach; 

And in High School (also at Palmer Trinity), thanks to Mr. Barry, Mrs. Blackburn, Mrs. Calleja, Mrs. Casas, Mr. Cassel, Chaplain Cassini, Mr. Chapman, Mrs. Cetta, Ms. DeVilliers, Mr. Diaz, Sr. Garces, Mr. Godley, Sr. Gonzalez, Dr. Hammerschlag, Mrs. Hibshman, Mrs. Holstein, Coach Iglesias, Coach Jones, Coach Jennings, Ms. Kujawa, Coach Kelbick, Dr. Lane, Dr. Llinas, Dr. Mealey, Mr. Moorhouse, Mrs. Paschick, Coach Prosper, Sra. Quant, Dr. Regalado, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Roberts, Coach Robertson, Mr. Sabogal, Dr. Salomon, Mrs. Sidhu, Dr. Singh, Coach Smith, Mr. Stoddard, Ms. Strauss, Mrs. Trujillo, and Mrs. Vanegas.

And last, but most certainly not least, a thanks and a “Legen17ary” shout out to all of my classmates in the class of 2017. Together we can change the world. NOW let’s go do it!

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P.s. a special thanks to Community News and the Miller family for publishing the article above, as well as for their support of my work. To read or share a copy of the article as published in the Community News, please click here.

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