Miami Beach Declares Climate Emergency Inspired by Youth Action
The youth activists who demonstrated in front of Miami Beach's City Hall last month as part of September's global climate strike handed a climate emergency resolution to Chief Resilience Officer, Susy Torriente. Rather than see the declaration fall into the abyss, Torreinte handed it into the mayor's office, which led to the resolution being introduced and passed unanimously, according to the Miami Herald.
The resolution calls on Miami Beach to push the state and the rest of the country to issue an "emergency mobilization effort to restore a safe climate." It makes Miami Beach the latest of the 1,143 jurisdictions in 22 countries to declare a climate emergency, including the United Kingdom, New York City, and even Pope Francis.
While the climate emergency declaration does not offer specific policies, environmental activists say the language is important.
"This is more of a first step and gives us a lot of leverage," said John Paul Mejia, a 17-year-old Miami Beach Senior High School student and member of several Miami-based climate action groups, to the Miami Herald. "We need to shift the narrative to understand this as a crisis because that's what it really is."
The city of Miami Beach will send copies of the declaration to the U.S. House of Representatives; the majority leader of the U.S. Senate, Mitch McConnell; Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott; all Florida U.S. representatives; Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and all the commissioners; and every city and town in the county, according to the Miami Herald.
"It's not just us holding up signs now. There's literally legislation that says we need to put this at the top of the agenda," said Mejia to the Miami Herald.
Few places in the country are as vulnerable to the climate crisis as Miami where sea level rise threatens to change the landscape of the city as investors start to buy up land on higher ground. The city investing $650 million to raise the city streets, since the Union of Concerned Scientists predicted that 30 percent of Miami Beach will be underwater by 2045, according to the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Earlier this month, the state's Department of Environmental Protection kicked off an initiative to invest $116.4 million initiative to replace diesel busses with an electric-powered fleet, according to the News Service of Florida.
"It's a testament to how being active and being engaged and being part of the conversation makes governments change," said Torriente to the Miami Herald. "I just think it's a testament to the movement, the young organizers."
"I think it would be wonderful if other cities can realize the sense of urgency that needs to take place and they start taking action," Torriente added.
The youth activists also earned praise from local climate activists, not only for campaigning for the declaration but also for their vow to attend city council meetings to keep the climate crisis at the top of the political agenda.
"We are so proud of the youth leaders and their allies who worked hard to make this declaration a reality. We hope the City of Miami Beach will continue this leadership trend by taking concrete action to reduce emissions, like transitioning to 100 percent clean and renewable energy," said Emily Gorman, a Sierra Club representative and steering committee chair of the Miami Climate Alliance, said in a statement, as the Miami Herald reported.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.