Climate Change

Xavier Cortada On How Art Made Miami Global And How It May Save It In The Future

What’s News In This Story?

This interview is part of the “Tomorrow Lives Here” Conversation Series presented by Miami Business School



Artist Xavier Cortada is known in Miami for helping introduce the public to complex issues and ideas through beautiful pieces of art.

–A graduate of Miami Business School, Cortada has done some wild things in his life including planting a green flag at the North Pole in order to “reclaim it for nature and launch an eco-art reforestation effort”.

–He is also trying to get more public awareness around the issue of climate change in South Florida, among other issues. 

Cortada recently donated four pieces of public art to Miami Business School and spoke to Dean John Quelch about the significance of that work, his view of how art has made Miami an international city and how it may save the city in the future.


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DraftKings CEO Jason Robins On How Growing Up In Miami Prepared Him For Success

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Miami’s Waterkeeper Is Seriously Worried About The Future Of The City’s Waterways

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Miami Waterkeeper Rachel Silverstein has built her non-profit into a legit force in the South Florida political and legal world.

-They’ve entered the scene at the perfect time to give our waters a fighting chance.

-From pollution to ecosystem crushing algae blooms to sea level rise and a nuclear power plant that could end up being swallowed by the sea- there’s a lot at stake right now.

Rachel Silverstein is the waterkeeper and executive director for Miami Waterkeeper.

Silverstein leads a team of five lawyers and scientists who advocate for ecological protections and smart public policy through advocacy and scientific research. 

They also sue polluters. And they threaten people who are trashing Miami’s waters with lawsuits. They do that a lot.

In 2014, Miami Waterkeeper sued Miami-Dade county to protect coral reefs that were impacted by the Port Miami dredging project. The county settled with Miami Waterkeeper and paid over $400,000 to relocate the corals to a University of Miami lab.

FPL’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.

Silverstein is concerned about the future of FPL’s Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant. She thinks that the plant will be submerged by the impacts of sea level rise by 2040. FPL wants to continue to use the site until at least 2052

The TV Weatherman Who Is Trying To Save Miami From Drowning

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–John Morales is the chief meteorologist of NBC 6. He has also become one of the leading voices on climate change in South Florida. 

Morales is not afraid to use his platform to talk about climate change. 

–He frequently ties daily weather events to the broader context of what’s happening with climate change. Examples of this include the increasing frequency of “King Tides” in Miami and the increase in days that are good for mosquito development.

–Morales was born in upstate New York and raised in Puerto Rico. He studied atmospheric science at Cornell University and worked for the National Weather Service before getting into local tv in 1991.  

–He helped Miami’s Spanish speaking community get through Hurricane Andrew while he was at Univision- a job that he held until 2003. He then worked at Telemundo’s Miami affiliate for six years before scoring the chief meteorologist job at NBC 6 in 2009. 

 –Morales helped the American Meteorological Society increase its standards for broadcaster meteorologists- a move that some feel helped increase the number of tv weather people who believe that climate change is caused by humans. 

——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——

La Gringa For Miami: How A Special Election Is Changing Politics In South Florida

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Kids Are Suing Rick Scott So Florida Will Act On Climate Change

What’s News In This Story?

–A group of Florida young people are suing the Governor and other state wide officials over what they say is government inaction over climate change. 

-The suit, which was filed in a Tallahassee court on Monday, seeks to require the state to “adhere to its legal and moral obligation to protect current and future generations from the intensifying impacts of climate change…” 

-Florida Governor Rick Scott does not believe in man-made climate change

-The eight young people are between the ages of 10 to 20 and they come from various parts of the state.

-There is a nine member legal team that is backing up the suit on behalf of the kids and “Our Children’s Trust”, a group that has helped young people sue their state governments around the country. 

-Fort Lauderdale attorney Mitchell Chester is part of the legal team. 

-“We can’t delay anymore because climate change is a huge problem,” Levi Draheim, a 10-year-old plaintiff in the suit said. “We must deal with it right now and start reducing the emissions that are causing it.” 

Watch Another Story: Meet Miami’s Queen Bee And Her Backyard Insect Revolution

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New Book Claims That Miami Shores Floods With Poop During Every King Tide

Climate change is real.

Most people in South Florida understand that things are changing in the local environment as the king tides seem to be getting worse, and as Hurricane Irma showed, we are at serious threat for more dangerous storm surge due to sea level rise.

Again, most people in this town believe that climate change is real.

Sadly, a glaring falsehood about what happens to certain Miami neighborhoods during king tides will only muddy the waters and give climate change deniers more ammunition in their fight to ignore reality.

Rolling Stone excerpted a few thousand word section of a freshly released book by one of its writers, Jeff Goodell.

The book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World seems like an interesting and important read.

Full disclosure: I have not had the chance to read it.

Goodell seems to be a top notch reporter who has spent a great deal of time on the ground researching the book.

But, how can he explain this, from the excerpt?:

“In Miami Beach, streets are being elevated and LEED-certified condo towers are rising, but in low-income neighborhoods like Miami Shores, you have to walk through shit-filled water every time a big tide arrives.

A few points here.

One: to anyone who has even spent a few hours traveling around South Florida would realize, Miami Shores is not a “low-income neighborhood”.

VIDEO: storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma in Miami Shores: 

Miami Shores is geographically close to some of the poorest areas of Miami-Dade County, but the village itself is considered a wealthy one.

Census data shows that the median value of owner-occupied housing units in Miami Shores is $397,800.

The county average?

Just $203,300.

Miami Beach?


When looking at various Census data points, Miami Shores (on a per capita basis) could be considered wealthier than Miami Beach.

Look at median household income.

Miami Shores- $97,500.

Miami Beach- $44,342.

Miami-Dade County- $43,129.

Sorry to be a stickler, but when dealing with such an important crisis, all the facts matter.

Now, on to the second and far more important point.

Just to recap:

“…in low-income neighborhoods like Miami Shores, you have to walk through shit-filled water every time a big tide arrives.

That is just not true.

I grew up in Miami Shores and my family has lived in the community for nearly 40 years.

None of us have ever heard of raw sewage flooding the streets during king tides.

A king tide just happened last week.

There were no reports of “shit filled water” flooding the area.

This is not to say that Miami Shores doesn’t have a shit problem.

It does.

In the village council election that took place in April, candidate Eddie Lewis made the potential for climate change induced septic issues, a centerpiece of his campaign. (The point was largely ignored by local voters.)

But he wasn’t talking about it as a current issue.

Lewis was projecting into the future and arguing for a proactive solution to tackle climate change issues before they arise.

Miami Shores, like many old South Florida neighborhoods, doesn’t have a municipal sewer system for the over 3,000 homes in the community.

Instead, it relies on an expensive and fragile septic tank and drain field systems.

This can be extremely problematic if the ground around the tank becomes overly saturated with water.

As Quartz explained in a poop primer piece published prior to the pummeling from Hurricane Irma:

“Backed up toilets are also becoming a more common occurrence. The waste produced by about a third of the people going to the bathroom any given day in Florida (that includes tourists) goes into a septic tank. In order for a tank to do its job, there needs to be room for the liquid portion of the waste to slowly filter down into the ground. When groundwater levels go up, though, they push the waste back up, sometimes resulting in a poop flood.”

Again, Miami Shores probably does have a real long-term problem here.

Florida had a raw sewage crisis unfold after Hurricane Irma.

And the Biscayne Waterkeeper recently discovered a pipe in Biscayne Bay that is spewing raw sewage into the water at a potential rate of millions of gallons a day.

And its been spewing for over a year.

So we’ve got real problems down here man.

We know it.

If we don’t get the world to make serious changes, there is a good chance that the place that we love will become Atlantis.

But, that’s why we need to stick to facts and not get sucked into hyperbole.

I’m sure that Goodell just made a mistake, and we’ll give him the chance to clear it up.

But climate change deniers take every mistake and twist them to undermine the overall reality.

We can’t let that happen.

Otherwise, we’ll end up drowning in the shit.

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If Liberals Really Believe In Science Then They Have To Stop Attacking GMOs

My Facebook feed is littered with posts, articles, and opinions of my liberal friends posting about the overwhelming science that supports that climate change is real, and that the deniers need to look at the proof.

However, many of these same friends will turn around and post article after article on why GMOs are terrible for you and how they harm your body.

But where’s the actual science that supports that?

Seems like a problematic double standard.

The vast majority of scientific research points to the fact that GMOs are not harmful to the human body nor the environment.

In fact, the National Academy of Sciences just released a report of a review of hundreds of research articles, testimonies, and questions about the safety of GMOs.

So where is the disconnect – and why do so many liberals acknowledge the majority of scientists that support climate change, but not the majority that supports that GMOs are not bad for you?

If you look at political demographics, you see that 70% of Democrats trust scientists to research climate change, while only 15% of Republicans support that.

Many progressives are distrustful of GMO’s. Photo Credit: Donna Cleveland/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Alternatively, 56% of Democrats believe that GMOs are unsafe to eat, while 51% of Republicans say the same – with only 43% of Democrats and 38% of Republicans saying that they are safe to eat.

When you examine the perception of GMOs in the United States, you’ll see many arguments against GMOs – from the “evils” of the Monsanto Chemical company, to people boycotting and protesting Roundup Ready crops.

This opposition stems from scientific research that is full of fraudulent misinformation, and they don’t examine the good that GMOs are able to accomplish, like the papaya crop success in Hawaii ten years ago, or the fact that scientists are trying to modify cows to produce less methane gas to, ya know, reduce the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The latter bit would help combat climate change in a real way. 

Now, personally, I identify as a liberal, and I am 110% for questioning scientific research and letting new discoveries and inventions be properly vetted before being released into the public.

But at some point, the line needs to be drawn.

And to my liberal friends – I only have one message: Get. It. Together.

If we’re going to promote and support the majority of science that says climate change is a reality, then let’s stay constant and support the majority that says GMOs are not bad for you.

If we’re going to fight to save this planet from drastic climate and environmental change, then support the people who are actually trying to do that.

You want to make sure that the projected 9.7 billion people on this world in 2050 are going to have food?

Photo Credit: Daniel Arauz/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Then let’s support the scientists who are trying to feed people.

Let’s support the science and the research that is going towards trying to make food more affordable, more nutritious, more accessible, and more easily grown.

The population of the world isn’t going to magically go stagnant or go down, and if you didn’t know, growing food is hard.

We are able to feed 155 people per farmer currently.

In 1960, that number was 25.8.

If y’all want to be able to affordably eat within the next 50 years, if you want to help feed those less fortunate than you, and if you want to protect our planet, then start supporting and trusting the scientists who know what they’re doing.

Be consistent.

If we’re going to say we support science and validated research, then hold up that promise and start supporting all the validated science, not just the ones you want to.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Paul Sableman/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Infographic: What Will The Earth Look Like In 50 Years?


RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Dako Huang/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Australian Government Still Doesn’t Seem To Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef

By Adam Hushin

The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is home to thousands of species of various sea life from sharks and whales to, of course, coral. Tourists flock to the reef to behold, with their own eyes, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, while they still can.

According to The Guardian, the reef has lost 50 percent of its coral due to a barrage of threats including “rising sea temperatures, increasing ocean acidification, swelling numbers of cyclones in recent years, pollution problems triggered by fertiliser and sewage run-offs from farms and cities, and damage caused by the development of ports on the east coast of Australia.”

The Australian government has done little to face the crisis and has only recently seemed interested in getting involved as the potential economic impacts have become so stark- the country earns £2.6 billon per year in tourism money associated with the reef according to The Guardian.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

In June 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, met in Bonn, Germany to discuss the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

The committee ruled that the Australian government must report back to UNESCO in 18 months on it’s progress towards preserving the reef.

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Australian government has announced the “Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability plan” as their primary effort to accomplish the goal of protecting the reef.

However Greenpeace, the global environmental agency believes this plan is an overwhelming disappointment, and will not be the solution that the reef desperately needs.

“Until the plans for the massive coal mine and port expansion are dropped, it’s impossible to take Australia’s claims that they are protecting the Reef seriously,” the Greenpeace Political Advisor for Australia Pacific, Jess Panegyres said in a press release. “The government’s Reef 2050 Plan has loopholes so big you can drive coal-carrying ships through them. The plan has effectively carved out a space for massive coal mines and port expansion that will create a highway for coal ships straight through the Reef.”

One key concern that Greenpeace has is that the Reef 2050 plan still allows coal mine and port expansion.

This allows for something called ‘dredging’ to continue. Dredging means digging up the sea-bed to deepen channels for ships entering ports.

Dredging, runoff, and other polluting elements will now not only be allowed to continue, but will expand because of the Australian government’s choice to put their coal industry above the protection of the reef according to the thinking of Greenpeace activists.

Moreover, lack of action like in this case is killing the reef ecosystems according to the group.

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“We need to protect reefs from the individual and cumulative impacts of poor choices on the land, the sea, and in the atmosphere,” Louise Fraser, a spokesperson with Greenpeace Australia Pacific said. “We also need to ensure that politics and industry are not hindering reef protection, or the science that studies it.”

Greenpeace is campaigning for 100% renewable energy by 2050 and in Australia they are also campaigning against the expansion of the coal industry in Queensland.

Greenpeace isn’t the only one who recognizes the negatives in the government’s plan.

“The government wants to have coal mines operating in 60 years’ time, and still hopes to have a healthy reef,” Terry Hughes, Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University wrote in a piece for The Conversation. “The science says otherwise: either we plan to adequately protect the reef and transition away from fossil fuels, or we abandon the reef and develop the world’s largest thermal coal mines. We can’t possibly do both.”

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

Overall, the stability of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as dozens of other endangered ecosystems around the globe, is a major problem that is not getting the attention that it critically needs.

This unfortunate fact begs the question, how long can we afford to ignore these problems?

If you would like more information on the Great Barrier Reef, or on efforts to help preserve it, go to, or

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Cover Photo Credit: gjhamley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0

Why The Republican Party Is So Out Of Touch With Reality On Climate Change

By Nicholas Olivera

In mid-December, leaders from 195 countries came to an historic agreement in Paris about how to address the global crisis of climate change. The agreement was heralded as a pathbreaking moment for both international diplomacy and the scientific consensus concerning climate change.

Back home in America however, things felt a bit differently, as they often do.

A week after the historic agreement, President Barack Obama mocked Republicans for their continued failure to recognize climate change as a real issue.

“The American Republican party is the only major party that I can think of in the advanced world that effectively denies climate change,” Obama said according to the Guardian.

According to a recent Pew survey, only 27% of Republicans believe that global warming is mostly an issue caused mostly by human activity.

Only a couple of the Republican presidential candidates have expressed the belief that global climate change is a man-made threat.

Former governor of New York George Pataki has openly acknowledged his stance on climate, saying during October’s GOP debate: “It is not appropriate to think that human activity — putting CO2 into the atmosphere –doesn’t make the Earth warmer. All things being equal, it does. It is uncontroverted.”

Pataki has spent some time working towards a cleaner environment, having served as co-chair of the Independent Task Force on Global Climate Change, an independent commission dedicated to preventing climate change.

The group even issued a report back in June of 2008 making market-friendly recommendations in order to cut carbon emissions 60 to 80 percent by the year 2050.

And while Pataki is a staunch believer in climate change there’s no mention of it on his campaign website.

Why would a candidate with so much passion for the issue of climate change leave it out of their campaign?

“The fact that it isn’t being talked about very much by the rest of the candidates doesn’t surprise me,” Dr. David Woodard, a professor of political science at Clemson University and former consultant of Republican candidates told RISE NEWS. “I have found that other candidates have gotten a lot more mileage by bringing up the terrorist issues.”

Six of the remaining dozen candidates have dismissed the issue entirely.

Former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum has said in the past that he believes that climate change is nothing more than an excuse for “more government control of your life.”

Texas senator Ted Cruz asserts that climate change was simply concocted by “power-greedy politicians.”

And of course Donald Trump has made his beliefs concerning the issue known in a rather vulgar way.

The remaining candidates are caught somewhere in the middle; each of them have publicly expressed a mixture of doubt, hesitancy, and skepticism in regards to climate change.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie has acknowledged the existence of global climate change but argues that the degree to which human activity contributes to it is up for debate.

Former governor of Virginia Jim Gilmore (yes, he is still running) claims to need more proof as to whether or not it is a man-made issue. Even former governor of Florida Jeb Bush has expressed his skepticism.

But chances are this is an issue that won’t pick up traction within the GOP nomination contest this year.

“I don’t think it’s an important issue this year given the events in California along with other terrorist attacks,” Woodard said. “The other candidates are going with the more hot-button issues where they get the most press attention and conflict with their peers.”

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Cover Photo Credit: U.S. Geological Survey/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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