My conservative attorney father loves listening to singer/songwriter, Jimmy Buffett, and a “Margaritaville state of mind” was certainly part of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon lifestyle throughout much of my youth.
As he climbed to fame and fortune, Jimmy Buffett always had time to stand up for Florida’s environment. Just this spring, he headlined a rally petitioning the Florida Legislature to buy U.S. Sugar land for Everglades’ restoration; years ago he helped found the Save the Manatee Club with U.S. Senator and former Governor, Bob Graham. Buffett is a Florida “conservationist hero.” Thus it was a welcomed surprise to learn that Mr Buffett would be receiving an honorary doctorate degree of music, and be the commencement speaker for Ed’s niece, Darcie’s, University of Miami graduation last Friday.
It was a day of celebration but the signs were everywhere: “Miami needs more clean water!” “Send the water south!”
The city of Miami was under great construction and cranes filled the horizon. Around the corner, in Coral Gables, there were other signs.
As Darcie and I made our way to the auditorium, we walked past the large pond I had enjoyed so much during Ed and my last visit: “Wow, what happened to the water here?” I asked…
“I know,” she said, “It used to be so clear. Since they built the new Ratskeller and student center, it is all cloudy and brown….runoff maybe?” She inquired.
“What happened to all the fish?” I asked.
Darcie shook her head.
Symbolic of things to come? Jimmy Buffett the speaker…Hmmmm….
Darcie’s generation, more than ever, knows the pressures of a growing world population, the need for more clean water, and the importance of saving and restoring the environment the best we can…
Darcie’s generation also knows that just through south Florida canals, the state of Florida is dumping 1.7 billion gallons of fresh water into the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico every day because US Sugar and other multi-trillion dollar agri-businesses block that flow.
(Florida Oceanographic article on this waste: (http://www.floridaocean.org/p/162/florida-s-ocean-and-coastal-ecosystems-take-action-our-future-begins-today#.VVCuQuvjh0E)
We and earlier generations have to admit that when it comes to Florida and water, we have messed things up. Perhaps we were driven by “hunger and money,” but today, we all recognize the value of clean water and a healthy environment for the survival of our children. It is time that water again makes its way from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades…
Why don’t we try to help these young people with this issue rather than leaving them with the full burden? It’s time to buy the land.
I will be taking a week’s break to focus on family, but I wanted to leave you with my audio tape of Jimmy Buffett’s commencement speech below; it does not focus on the poor state of Florida’s environment, but rather on life lessons to help: 1. Moderation; 🙂 2. Make your avocation your vocation; 3. Travel this world; and 4. be Santa Clause when you can! Good advice for all us, young or old. Let’s make Jimmy Buffett proud and keep working to save our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!
JIMMY BUFFETT’S UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI COMMENCEMENT SPEECH, 2015.
Florida Sunshine State News, Jimmy Buffet plays for land buy of US Sugar option lands, state Capitol: (http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/story/jimmy-buffett-land-changes-attitude-during-everglades-day-capitol)