15 Florida Mayors to Marco Rubio: We're Going Under, Take Climate Change Seriously
Fifteen South Florida mayors released a letter Tuesday that was sent to Sen. Marco Rubio requesting a meeting with the presidential candidate to talk about the climate change risk facing the state’s communities. The mayors underscore the economic burden of climate change in South Florida, urging Rubio to “acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the crisis it presents our communities.”
“Anyone who thinks that the topic of climate change is a partisan issue is not focused on the reality which we as public officials and citizens are dealing with. This is a crisis that grows day by day,” Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said, asking Rubio to “help us face and tackle this urgent issue—and the risks associated with it—so we may deal with it head-on.”
Several recent studies project the total rise of global sea level caused by climate change will be as much as 6.5 feet during the 21st century. Experts say “there is no practical way to protect some populated coastal areas and barrier islands,” including Brooklyn, Long Island and the coasts of Texas and Florida. According to a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy Sciences, Miami is one of dozens of U.S. coastal cities in the U.S. that may be submerged by 2025.
“There’s a great economic opportunity for this country to innovate in clean energy and technology to respond to climate change, but we’re not taking it,” Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason said. “Meanwhile in South Florida, we have billions of dollars and millions of lives at risk. This shouldn’t be a political issue. It’s about assessing reality and acting accordingly.”
The risk to lives and livelihoods is clear. The mayors’ sentiment echoes that of the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council, which stated in its 2010 report, Climate Change and Sea-Level Rise in Florida:
"It is widely accepted that human activities can impact global climate patterns. While there are legitimate disagreements among scientists on the nature, magnitude and impact of these changes, the potential risks to Florida’s natural resources and our economy compel us to seek a thorough understanding of possible impacts and to provide current and future generations with the information necessary to adjust to them."
"Humans are not responsible for climate change in the way some of these people out there are trying to make us believe, for the following reason: I believe the climate is changing because there’s never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is, what percentage of that … is due to human activity? If we do the things they want us to do, cap-and-trade, you name it, how much will that change the pace of climate change versus how much will that cost to our economy? Scientists can’t tell us what impact it would have on reversing these changes, but I can tell you with certainty, it would have a devastating impact on our economy."
"When he was a state legislator, Sen. Rubio recognized that cutting carbon emissions would create economic opportunities and protect Florida from the worst effects of climate change," Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner said. "After all, during his tenure in the state house he saw Florida hit by dozens of hurricanes and suffer billions in damages. But even though extreme storms and sea level rise are both expected to get worse, he's now saying there's nothing we can do. Running for president shouldn’t mean running away from your community."
The bipartisan group of 15 signatories also includes Jack Seiler, mayor of Fort Lauderdale and Jeri Muoio, mayor of West Palm Beach and represents more than 920,000 South Florida residents. The letter was sent to Rubio’s campaign offices on Jan. 21, with a similar letter sent to the campaign office of Gov. Jeb Bush. Neither candidate has so far responded to the requests.
"We know that climate change will be a disaster for South Florida, but the speed and scale of the disaster will depend on how quickly we can reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard said. “We are doing what we can at the local level, but the big changes have to come from our elected leaders at the national level. We are still waiting to see that thoughtful leadership from Sen.Rubio, but to our considerable dismay, he is running in the exact wrong direction, proposing new ways to thwart the Clean Power Plan.”
The letter was organized as a joint initiative of ClimateTruth.org, a climate advocacy organization and the CLEO Institute, a Miami-based not-for-profit organization advancing climate literacy and civic engagement.
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Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
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While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
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