MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – If this summer’s sweltering heat or the unusually quiet peak of hurricane season hasn’t convinced you, South Florida is already experiencing the effects of climate change.
A new video was recently released that is meant to wake us all up to the urgency of the moment, and how we all must play a part in addressing the climate crisis.
The people in the video are not actors, and they had no idea what was about to hit them.
Suddenly, a real life South Beach souvenir shop on Washington Ave. began to rapidly flood with 5600 gallons of repurposed water out of pumps that were rigged inside the Pineapple Beach Resort store’s fitting rooms.
The unsuspecting shoppers received a dramatic up-close preview of the sea level rise that scientists project is coming our way.
What seems like a prank is actually a new video campaign produced by the Zubi Agency for the Volo Foundation, the Union of Concerned Scientists and spearheaded by the CLEO Institute, a non-partisan Florida-based nonprofit that’s been pushing for climate action for the last 12 years.
Yoca Arditi-Rocha is the CLEO Institute’s executive director.
“In order to really break through the noise, right through the barriers of social media and communications, we really wanted to use something creative that could shake people to the core,” Arditi-Rocha said.
She was at the White House Tuesday with President Joe Biden and lawmakers to celebrate the passage of the historic Inflation Reduction Act, investing $369 billion in climate action and clean energy.
“For Floridians, this is of enormous importance, because all that all those incentive, all the money that is going to be catalyzed in solving this climate crisis will impact us very positively,” said Arditi-Rocha.
But Arditi-Rocha says that’s only if our state acts with urgency. Even though locally Miami-Dade County has already taken aggressive action to begin to reduce the county’s carbon footprint, statewide, Arditi-Rocha says we are way behind the eight ball.
“We need an aggressive plan, we need to put the state of Florida in a clean, renewable pathway,” she said. “And we need to make sure that we have a net zero goal of those heat trapping gases by 2040. That’s what the science dictates.”
Arditi-Rocha says right now Florida still gets 65 to 70 percent of our energy from dirty fossil fuels that pollute and warm our atmosphere.
This new legislation can greatly help reduce that by offering tax breaks for buying new or used electric vehicles, helping us make our homes more energy efficient, and boosting manufacturing of renewable energy infrastructure, like solar panels.
“And so what this means is that we can really scale solar jobs all across the state,” she said.
Last year solar jobs increased by nine percent in 47 states making it one of the fastest growing job sectors in the nation.
Though California is number one, this is Florida’s chance to take the lead and embrace the clean energy revolution happening now.
“What this means is pedal to the metal, it means that we’re going to be able to scale the solar industry and live up to our name the sunshine state,” Arditi-Rocha said.
But Arditi-Rocha says it’s the residents who will dictate how our state policy makers step up.
That’s why the CLEO Institute produced the video. There is no more time to waste, the climate crisis is happening now.
“We’re seeing heat waves like we’ve never seen before,” Arditi-Rocha said. “We’ve seen flooding like we have never seen before what is happening in Pakistan, what has happened in Kentucky and Dallas and all around the world.”
The goal here is for every Floridian to stand up and demand that Florida be the leader of the clean, renewable energy movement and to put the standards and the goals in place that can help us transition there faster.
We after all are ground zero for the climate crisis and the world is watching how we step up to this moment.
To watch the full video and learn how you can take action, visit https://cleoinstitute.org/floridainemergency/.