My Worlds On Fire, How About Yours?

Alexander Kaufman currently works for HuffPost as one of the top reporters covering climate, the environment and business where they intersect. Coming into this discussion from a business perspective roughly 4 years ago, Alexander became intrigued with the environmental implications that were being discussed in the boardrooms of American corporations. He became disenchanted with the notion that they might regulate themselves and shifted his focus to governmental regulatory policy.

I picked up on his enthusiasm for the potential in the energy sector for innovative solutions and pitfalls in the current administration’s trajectory. I was fortunate to be able to speak with him recently about his reporting, as he characterizes it, centering on “climate change, environmental policy and the politics of life on a warming planet.”

The evolution of Alexander’s interest in environmental issues has clarified his perspective of humanity’s fallible energy choices of the past through to the fortuitously critical options that will impact our immediate and long term collective future. Our interview took place mere hours before the recent release of the UN’s staggering climate report, the conclusion of which has come to be understood as implicating dire consequences for all living things on this planet if immediate measures which the committee implored are not heeded.

With the Trump administration’s recent interest in reviving the archaic cold war era Defense Production Act to nationalize coal plants thus preventing the shuttering of otherwise obsolete coal plants, Alexander sees this absurd proposition as a potential catalyst calling it “a gift for climate hawks.” He accurately points out that the coal industry is “employing very few people and is such a huge source of climate pollution.”

Despite the urgent tone of the conclusions in the UN’s recent climate report, Mr. Kaufman chastises policy makers within the Democratic Party that herald themselves as believers of climate change and its imminent danger yet offer inadequate solutions. Alexander states right now they are offering…[solutions…] “that are very conservative approaches, nowhere near close enough to what needs to happen in order to reduce emissions at the rate scientists say we need to in order to avert the very worst catastrophes to potentially avoid losing cities like Miami to sea level rise.”

In a recent article for HuffPost, Alexander wrote about the lost opportunity after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico for the territory to become a “Solar Pioneer” by implementing 21st century solutions. Instead, congressional Republicans were more interested in showcasing Puerto Rico as a “fossil fuel theme park” rather than the innovative approach towards replacement with clean, alternative, renewable energy sources which would prove more resilient in future natural disasters. Puerto Rico could have served as a living laboratory model for the future of climate friendly energy solutions. Alexander pointed out the implied practicality in that Puerto Rico is not capable of producing any of the fossil fuels which currently are burned in order to supply more than 97% of the island’s power needs.  Additionally, he commented that “Puerto Rico is a place where the sun is always shining and where you have communities in the mountains where they would do wonderfully if they would just produce their own electricity from decentralized little solar farms and stored in batteries”. This would make much more practical sense than “having a rickety power distribution system that was designed in the 1950s”.

Alexander impressed upon me the importance of continuing to explore future technologies that are currently at our doorstep. One of the more tantalizing avenues of research is found within facilities like Oak Ridge National Lab where they study the physics of particles colliding at nearly speed of light. One might naturally what this has to do with solving our energy problems. “This type of testing is really critical to finding ways of making lithium batteries more effective. Lithium batteries are really important to renewable energy being more widely used.” In addition many spin offs will contribute to higher efficiencies from cancer research to aerodynamic design. Unfortunately, the Trump administration seems blind and deaf to the invaluable benefits to mankind this facility contributes. Instead, the President is more interested in shrinking the size of the federal government and consequently driving away top research scientists with his ambivalence. Alexander laments “When you have that kind of uncertainty you risk down the road driving away more scientists to leave and to go work at another lab in another country as some of these experiments take five or more years to plan and so if you don’t know if your funding is going to be maintained from year to year, it makes it a lot harder to plan.”

America, long the leader in these technologies will rapidly fall behind as other countries are more than eager to attract the limited number of researchers integral to the success of these projects.

Speaking with Alexander helped me get to a higher understanding of the imminent perils we’re facing and demanding an immediate response. The hand wringing and half measures proposed by our elected officials from both parties currently are woefully deficient and will result in further degradation at an ever increasing pace toward a irreversible future which is life threatening on a global scale. Continued procrastination will surely result in massive financial burden and unimaginable consequences for all living things on this planet.


There's One Thing Left For Millennial's To Do: Vote!

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There’s one thing all of us are certain to hear during every election cycle: it’s the most important of our lifetime. In fact, we hear it so often that many of us have become immune to what it’s implying – except for the fact that this year, it might actually be true. Of course, while every prior election has been significant in its own way, the results of the 2016 election have redefined “importance” in ways none of us ever imagined. On a national level, our democracy is functional but fragile, as the current administration continues to threaten the American institutions that keep us stable; on a state level, our challenges demand solutions that can no longer be postponed by ineffective, status quo governing.

While the choices we need to make seem obvious, they remain dependent on our collective motivation to make them. This starts with my generation: millennial s

Political complacency has been a stigma that has continually plagued millennial s, even as we have surpassed the baby boomers in becoming the largest voting demographic in the nation. Our lack of interest is used as a tool for blame on election outcomes, and when we finally do show the motivation to take action, it’s usually seen as nothing more than an incoherent and poorly executed excuse to complain.

To some degree, the numbers reflect this reality: in 2012, 49% of 18-35 year old’s turned out to vote; in 2016, that number increased to 50 - a whopping 1%. The numbers for midterm elections, as you can imagine, are far less.

However, this generation now has the opportunity to change this conversation more decidedly – and the proof of this change seems to be occurring throughout the nation. Millennial s are beginning to age – finishing their education, starting careers, settling in locations, and starting families – making the importance of the issues, and how those issues affect the future – more firmly in reach. Much of this, in turn, has motivated more millennial s to run for office than ever before – in fact, I was one of them during this year’s primary here in Palm Beach County.

At the same time, the excuses often used to ignore political conversation are dwindling, too. Because this generation is more proficient and adaptable with technology, social media, and the rapid evolution of both, conversation about the issues that surround our politics is more available, more effortless, and less avoidable than at any point prior.

Yet, for as much as these indicators show that the level of engagement might be changing, they will only have a minimal impact as long as people stay home on Election Day.

In years past, not showing up to vote may have seemed like a more acceptable option, since the choices available to us often felt like simple ideological differences that were conventional, ordinary, and safe. Today, the possibility of a president left unchecked, or a state that continues to find little urgency in correcting the vastness of our environmental crises, addressing our educational priorities, and establishing more acceptable standards of living are nothing short of a series of reckless scenarios that can be easily avoided.

For millennials, the results of inaction are perhaps the most consequential. This is the generation that will be around to witness rising seas, to work toward vanishing social security, to send their kids to schools that lack proper funding – and protection.

Those are risks that none of us can possibly accept.

With that, I leave my fellow millennial s with the following message: jeopardizing our entire future would be a tragic price to pay for our failure to spend less than 15 minutes filling out a ballot. In just over a month, let’s finally put this stigma behind us by taking action, showing up to vote, and making the difference. Your happy hour that Tuesday will be a real reason to celebrate.

If you’d like to hear more of Ryan’s thought’s you can follow him on Facebook here.

A Brief History Of Antitrust And Where We Are Now

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Christopher Sagers is a Distinguished Professor of Law who has taught a variety of courses ranging from Antitrust, Banking Regulation and Law & Economics to name a few. He is also a Senior Fellow of the American Antitrust Institute and has written multiple books on antitrust law. I recently reached out to Christopher to talk to him about how antitrust laws came about and his view on why enforcement has been on a decline.

You can follow Christopher on twitter here and read his paper that we discussed his new book is on here.

Vote Yes On Florida Constitutional Amendments 4 & 13!

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On November 6th when we go to cast our ballots, we have the power to restore voting rights to over a million former non-violent felons who have served their time and finally bring an end to greyhound gambling. Amendments 4 and Amendment 13 are just two of the twelve amendments on our ballot, but they’re very important. Not long ago I spoke with Rachel Cohen, a freelance journalist and Carlos Guillermo Smith, a Florida State House Representative for District 49, to learn more about the history of Amendments 4 and 13 and what it would mean if both passed.

You can read more about Rachel’s in depth piece on Amendment 4 here and keep up with more of her work on twitter here.

If you’d like to learn more about Carlos’s campaign and policy issues you can visit his site here and follow him on twitter here.

Candidate Spotlight: Anna Eskamani

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Anna Eskamani is a 28 year old Iranian American who is running one of the most under looked campaigns for the Florida state house in district 47. She was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and has followed Florida politics since she was a kid. I recently reached out to Anna to talk about her campaign and the issues she’s passionate about. Although she juggles running for state house, working full time and getting her doctorate, Anna is full of energy and passion and loves talking about the policies she’s running on.

You can keep up with Anna’s campaign by following her on twitter here and on her campaign site here.