Treading Water

On September 20, nearly 4 million young people in more than 150 different countries skipped school to demand climate action from their leaders. This action was part of a growing movement to hold the world accountable for the inevitabilities of the climate crisis, which will be felt most strongly by the youngest generation.

As young people rise up through frustration and grief, older generations look to young activists for hope. This three-part series explores the lengths that Florida youth are willing to go to push adults, lawmakers and governments past an endless cycle of treading water.

Treading Water

Part I: Blame it on the Youth

As young people learn about the impacts of climate change, they have the power to change the attitudes of their parents. Meanwhile, adults who are painfully aware of the existential realities of the climate crisis learn new ways to cope with their growing despair. In Part I of Treading Water, we explore the allure of young activists in the age of eco-grief.

Part II: “We Don’t Want Your Hope, We Want Your Panic”

Young people are suing their policymakers for violating their constitutional rights. Their complaints allege that governments have known about the dangers of climate change for 50 years, yet have continued to promote fossil fuel energy systems, which contribute heavily to climate change. In Part II of Treading Water, we examine how such lawsuits are contributing a new legal landscape for the rights to a stable climate.

Part III: The Seas Are Rising and So Are We

Today’s youth have already become disillusioned with our power structures. Loss and trauma will define their coming-of-age stories, and they are holding their leaders accountable for action on the climate crisis. They are the ones who stand to lose everything. In Part III of Treading Water we echo the urgency and stand by the most important crisis of our time.


On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael crashed into the Florida Panhandle near Mexico Beach. The monster hurricane continued its destructive path northward, ravaging coastal and rural communities. International news outlets breathlessly reported on the immediate aftermath, but as time progressed attention waned and aid fell short. Which made us at The Marjorie wonder, who’s been left behind? What’s been overlooked?  This series chronicles how the “the forgotten storm” hit rural Florida—and those lives, livelihoods, and lands that are still searching for resolution.


Part I: Until Further Notice

Twenty-one percent of Panama City residents live below the poverty line. Many rely on federal housing subsidies to help with rent, but funding for affordable housing programs is limited. Hurricane Michael exacerbated the housing shortage. After the storm, displaced hurricane survivors with little resources were left navigating federal aid options, searching for scarce homes all while trying to find a sense of normalcy.

Part II: The Forgotten Storm

Timber has sustained many Florida families for generations, and is a linchpin of rural Florida culture. The Florida Panhandle is home to some of the state’s most robust timberlands, but after Hurricane Michael leveled millions of acres of trees, many producers and workers were left to pick up the pieces and wonder if they are ready for this year’s hurricane season.

Part III: A Green Blur

Take a look outside. What do you see? For residents of the Florida Panhandle after Hurricane Michael, it was complete and utter devastation. Photos of leveled homes, smashed businesses, flooded streets and forests laid to waste made their way through news outlets, across social media, and in texts and emails to loved ones. But what was less obvious was how the destruction set the stage for a new landscape: a landscape defined by invasive species.

A Sugarcane Boiling Point

Florida’s long and complicated sugar story is at a crossroads. As pressure to change the industry mounts, some Glades area residents have questioned the safety of using pre-harvest burns as a standard in cane farming. At the same time, some sugar farmers argue that Florida’s tropical conditions make cane burning an absolute necessity. This three-part series dives into that conversation. Because to understand where Florida sugar is headed, we must meet the people who value Florida sugar most.

a sugarcane boiling point

Part I: United by Cane

There’s no better place to see Florida’s complicated sugar story playing out than on the ground in the communities where residents engage in the day-to-day operations of the industry and are considering its future. An important—and often overshadowed—piece of that puzzle is the harvesting techniques that some cane families say are responsible for a public health crisis.

Part II: Exposed in the Glades

Residents of the Glades region near Lake Okeechobee are divided over health concerns of sugarcane harvesting. This ongoing tug-of-war is punctuated by a growing body of research that spells out the implications for people living near sugarcane fields. What do these efforts mean for South Florida and the future of its long-time sugar industry?

Part III: A Future for Florida Sugar

Sugarcane communities aren’t the only ones looking for industry innovations. Both scientists and businesses are thinking about sugarcane in new ways, considering what techniques can be amended or fine-tuned, and what materials can be repurposed and capitalized. But to what extent will the sugarcane industry adapt?

United Debates of Climate Change

Climate change is a highly politicized phrase that spurs distinct feelings depending on geographic location, political affiliation or religious background. Yet, the science is solid. Climate change is happening. This month, we wanted to tackle how religious groups, politicians and your local weathermen are forging innovative techniques for communicating the science in a way that unites us and sparks action. For many Florida communicators and activists, that means meeting people where they are—in churches, at political rallies or at home on their TV sets.

united debates of climate change

Part II: Tuning In

Climate change science has long been embattled by misinformation campaigns, resulting in public distrust and the political polarization of the science. Your local weathercaster is seizing the opportunity to change that.