By Natalia Ortiz, The CLEO Institute
If you think COVID-19 is our biggest threat, think again. As a mom, it blows my mind that more parents are not alarmed about what’s in store for our kids in the next 20 to 30 years.
We go about our day monitoring iPad times, rushing to take our kids to sports activities, and making sure they eat healthy food. Yet, most of us have not stopped to understand that all our hard work will not prepare our children for what’s coming.
Skeptics have attacked the science about COVID-19 and the life-saving vaccines. People who doubt that the climate is warming do the same thing.
To no surprise, some elected officials have made this a partisan issue, even going as far as spreading lies when they actually know what’s happening. They care only about their political careers. And all of this is at a high cost to their constituents.
The world’s top climate scientists just came out with a Code Red report through the IPCC United Nations stating that we are now facing worst-case scenarios. Earth’s rising temperatures are going to produce more killer heat waves, stronger hurricanes, longer droughts, heavier downpours, and more cataclysmic fires if we don’t reduce our heat-trapping emissions.
The frustrating reality for me is that just like with COVID-19, we have the solution (vaccines). We have solutions to lower our global warming pollution. Yes, you heard me, the solutions exist.
We need to transition to clean, renewable electricity. Even more incredible is that world-renowned consulting companies like McKinsey & Company have shown that these solutions can strengthen our economy. So what are our elected officials waiting for?
As the world’s second-largest emissions polluter, the United States has a responsibility to clean up its pollution. I know people like to point fingers at other countries, but to them, I say – would you let your kids get away with doing something wrong simply because the neighbor’s kids are doing it?
I would hope most parents would not let that argument slide, so why do we let it slide from the people we have put in power? The reality is that our planet has a bad high fever. As parents, we rely on our pediatricians to help guide us when our kids are sick.
Think of the planet in the same way. We need to listen to the scientists as we listen to our pediatricians, as they are telling us what we need to do to lower the fever.
For me, living in Florida, the state most vulnerable to climate damage, it’s crazy that too many elected officials here talk so much about “resilience” yet have done little to nothing to address the elephant in the room. What are you going to do about lowering our global warming pollution?
Even further, elected officials like our governor have committed government overreach by putting mask bans in place, not allowing our local government to protect our kids.
Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Legislature have taken similar actions regarding the climate crisis, prohibiting municipalities from enacting their own clean energy goals.
Do we want to risk the only home we have? Can we as parents look our kids in the face and know we’re doing right by them if we don’t inform ourselves about what we’re doing to their planet and take steps to change course?
Just like we’re passionate about our kids’ soccer games, dance rehearsals, and nutrition, I call on all parents to become passionate climate ambassadors.
We need to come together as parents to defend our children’s future and hold our elected officials accountable for their lack of action. Scientists have confirmed we cannot put this off any longer. We are the generation that will guarantee or destroy our children’s future. What will your legacy be?
Natalia Ortiz is a Miami native who is married and has two children, Nicolas and Catalina. She is the Director of Development at The CLEO Institute where she spearheads the funding needs of the organization. A trained climate communicator, she is introducing new audiences to the urgency of acting on climate change.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.