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Righting Climate Change

No Left-Wing Stuff

(Published in The EarthSphere Blog. Cover Image: Sunset Over Miami 2421 (by WM House; ArcheanArt)

Florida Republicans, under pressure from reality, are now acknowledging climate change. I have stated numerous times the denial method of dealing with climate change will stop when voters have a “holy crap” moment as water creeps under their front door and into the living room. Denying climate change is easy when it’s someone else’s problem. But when climate change gets personal, it rises on the voter’s radar screen. But in Florida, there is a right way and a left way to address the problem.

What I’ve found is when people start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. And so we’re not doing any left-wing stuff,” stated Governor Ron DeSantis as he recently unveiled the ‘Always Ready Florida’ plan to deal with coastal flooding.

Evidently, the flooding problems are now reaching into Republican-leaning neighborhoods, and not everyone is happy. Even though the approach is typical knee-jerk policymaking after avoiding any proactive action for years, I am glad to see an acknowledgment of the problem and some baby steps towards adapting to a new reality.

I’m still in the dark about “left-wing stuff,” but perhaps clues are hidden in the actual plan.

Some History

The 2020 Republican platform failed to address climate change, barely mentioning it at all. Three notable lines in the 2020 platform were:

“Climate change is far from this nation’s most pressing national security issue. This is the triumph of extremism over common sense, and Congress must stop it.”

“The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is a political mechanism, not an unbiased scientific institution. Its unreliability is reflected in its intolerance toward scientists and others who dissent from its orthodoxy.”

“We demand an immediate halt to U.S. funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in accordance with the 1994 Foreign Relations Authorization Act. That law prohibits Washington from giving any money to “any affiliated organization of the United Nations” which grants Palestinians membership as a state.”

But significant factions in the party are actively pressing to address climate change threats despite this denial. Younger members are convinced the danger is real, and a growing number of Republicans regard global warming as a serious problem.

Climate change happens slowly, and many of us fail to notice it. Humans need clear markers to see the change. This need for visible change is why coastal communities are often the first to embrace the new reality of a changing world. At almost zero feet above sea level, coastal Florida is definitely on the active margins of climate change.

Perhaps this is why the Florida GOP broke the Republican code of silence in 2020 and addressed climate change in a piece of State legislation. Florida has much to lose, and therefore its residents, already living at sea level, notice the small changes and demand action from their elected officials — all politics is local.

Back to Ron

Based on Florida’s recent response to the masking controversy, we can assume the “left-wing stuff” probably includes listening to the advice of scientists and proactively cutting greenhouse emissions.

Ron’s announcement about the three-year $270 million plan focused on building coastal defenses. He also promised a lot more investment in the near future — over a billion dollars, to be precise. A billion is a lot, but it still does not cover the cost of the needed $76 billion in seawall construction by 2040, as projected by the Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity.

Additionally, some scientists are skeptical that Florida can outrun climate change with walls and pumps. They point to the leaky limestone foundation much of the State builds upon. It’s like constructing a boat with small holes in the bottom. Eventually, it will sink. But Ron is not a geologist, and these concerns are probably more “left-wing” stuff.”

Regardless of the Governor’s tepid response to climate issues, his plan is a step forward, or in his case, a step in the right direction. But I’m not celebrating yet, because Florida’s republican-controlled State Legislature may not share Governor DeSantis’ epiphany that climate change is a real problem. They are the ones who must grant final approval before Floridians can bask in the glow of an ‘Always Ready Florida’ plan.

Related story:

Miami Fights Climate Change by Raising Roads ( Medium)

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DeSantis proposes adapting to climate change without ‘doing any left-wing stuff’ (by David Knowles; Yahoo News)

DeSantis’ new climate change plan: $270 million for first wave of statewide projects (by Alex Harris; Miami Herald)

Florida could face $76 billion in climate change costs by 2040, report says(by Kirby Wilson; Tampa Bay Times)

William House
William is an earth scientist and writer with an interest in providing the science "backstory" for breaking environmental, earth science, and climate change news.