Samantha Gazda is a 15-year-old climate activist who lives in South Florida. By the time she turns 26, the world could be facing global sea level rise of more than 15 cm. That’s troubling news for Samantha and her family because South Florida is uniquely vulnerable to climate change due to its flat geography and porous limestone bedrock that lets water bubble up through the ground and flood neighbourhoods.
Samantha and her fellow classmates are part of Fridays for Future, a global movement started by Swedish youth Greta Thunberg. Young people are taking to the streets to fight for climate action by urging politicians to implement changes to reduce carbon emissions and save the planet.
Our movement has been gaining a lot of traffic, which makes me very optimistic. But we can’t be thinking like that right now. If we don’t stay scared, stay nervous and keep attacking our problems that are going on right now, then our optimistic approach is not going to be truthful in the end.
We have everything at stake. Our trees, our animals and us alone.
- Jacqueline, a fellow Fridays for Future climate activist
Less than 1 metre above sea level
Miami Beach sits on a barrier island between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean leaving about 45,000 residents living less than 1 metre above sea level. But the area is actively working on developing mitigation plans.
The community is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into infrastructure improvements, informed by scientific projections around sea level rise, data gathered from extreme storms and other impacts of a rapidly changing climate. The city consulted with experts from notable groups and organizations like the Harvard School of Design and Urban Land Institute to provide advice and recommend solutions.
As a result, the city will be raising roads, planting trees, supporting sustainable transportation and much more.
The perils are not the problem. It’s what you do with them... We’re trying to modernize so that we’re good not just in the next few years, but in the next few generations.
- Miami Beach mayor Dan Gelber
The community is also working on significantly reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2015, 196 countries signed onto the Paris Climate Agreement, a sweeping plan that aims to keep global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius—or even 1.5 degrees Celsius. World leaders must work together to eliminate the release of heat-trapping carbon by 2050—and, ideally, by 2040. To do this, they will need to strengthen their commitments to cut emissions over time.
In 2016, Miami Beach completed a greenhouse gas inventory as a first step in developing emissions reduction goals. It also made climate action commitments with We Are Still In. We Are Still In has been signed by more than 3,800 leaders declaring a commitment to deliver on the Paris Agreement.
Scientists, activists and political leaders agree, we still have time to stave off some of the worst effects of climate change. We just need to act now.
How WWF is helping
With support from WWF and 24 other organizations, We Are Still In has emerged as the largest US coalition in support of climate action ever.
WWF is inspired by this new generation of leaders and is committed to supporting them in their effort to summon the action necessary to meet the challenge.
Join Fridays for Future and the Global Climate March on Friday September 27.