October 9, 2019

Theresa Java/Free Press
From left, Anya Stack, Saharrah Hernandez, Ciera Cox and Mickey Christian quietly protest policymakers' inaction on climate change.

Theresa Java/Free Press From left, Anya Stack, Saharrah Hernandez, Ciera Cox and Mickey Christian quietly protest policymakers' inaction on climate change.

KEY LARGO — A young woman with plaited hair stood alone holding signs warning of climate change last Friday.

It wasn’t Swedish activist Greta Thunberg, but Tavernier’s Ciera Cox, who has joined the global movement urging policymakers to effect change with her nascent Fridays For Future Tavernier chapter.

“There is NO planet B,” Cox’s sign read.

It was the third Friday afternoon she’s devoted to standing in front of the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center in Key Largo.

Cox said she’s happy to be representing Monroe County in Thunberg’s international call to action on global warming.

The 24-year-old said she may not have the chance to grow old because global leaders have failed to enact near-term sustainable goals to reduce the use of fossil fuels.

Her generation is facing an existential crisis, she said, and the weight of that burden is tangible.

“We are at a point in time, if we don’t do more now, there won’t be a sustainable planet where people can be productive citizens,” Cox said.

She’s urging school-aged children to get involved and have their voices be heard. She’s made flyers and has distributed them to Upper Keys schools.

“We don’t view this as a political issue, it’s a human issue,” Cox said. “We are ground zero here in the Keys. We are already feeling the impacts here. Our reef is dying. This hurricane season has had me on the tip of my toes a few times.”

Scientists have been warning governments about greenhouse gases and rising seas since the 1950s, Cox said.

“It’s a slow moving disaster,” she said.

Saharrah Hernandez, who was among a few peaceful protesters joining Cox last Friday, held a sign that read, “You’ll die of old age, I will die of climate change.”

Mark Stack and his daughter have participated in Cox’s Fridays For Future protests.

“This generation doesn’t deserve what’s being handed down to them,” he said. “We’ve had superstorms, back-to-back tropical systems out there and blizzards in September. We’ve seen glacial melt-off in Iceland that wasn’t expected for another 30 years and scientists have forewarned us of this ad nauseam.”

Stack said as a father of two he worries about his children’s future.

“She [Cox] needs to stay focused on spreading awareness on this being a global issue, and children are starting to put the pressure on policy makers to make these changes,” Stack said.

Locally, Cox is urging residents to refrain from using single-use plastics.

“There are areas where we need to improve and we can start with not using single-use plastics,” Cox said. “We can all do simple things every day to help. Humans are the stewards of our planet.”

Cox advocates green consumerism, community gardens and energy efficient mass transportation in the Keys, among other solutions.

The next Fridays For Future Tavernier peaceful protest will be from 5 to 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center, mile marker 102, bayside. For more information, follow Fridays For Future Tavernier on Facebook.