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I went fishing for the first time at seven years old. I pulled on my rain boots which matched perfectly with my green basketball shorts and Miami Shores Elementary School t-shirt. I joined my sister for our expedition – a long five-minute hike down our street. We could see the outline of our neighbors screaming to us that they had just caught a pufferfish. We waded through the puddles to have a look before they threw the squirming pufferfish back into the water- or, rather, into the street, which you could no longer tell apart from the bay. A tropical storm had brought the bay to us, and we couldn’t have been more thrilled. 

That day, after one of the many tropical storms that were becoming a frequent occurrence in Miami, was the first time I noticed climate change. Despite the excitement I had about being able to fish, I knew something didn’t seem right. I worried that the bay would keep coming down the street until it reached my house, which doesn’t seem so much of a far-fetched seven-year-old thought anymore. 

All the beach clean-ups and environmental protests my mom dragged me to began to make sense. I now understood the fear of sea-level rise that loomed over all of Florida. The little puddle at the end of my street, where I fished for the very first time, soon became the center of a conversation around building a 20-foot wall and leaving my street on the other side.

Clara Santos, CU Boulder Student