Naysayers Abound


Continued denial of climate change by people who are supposed to be our leaders is the topic of the Gainesville Sun’s editorial on Friday, Sept. 4, 2015.  The number of scientists who are among the naysayers is significantly small, but this is conveniently ignored by those who chose to remain stubborn, such as Gov. Scott, Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush.

Regional impacts are forthcoming,  as the population of South Florida flees northward.  Raising the roadways is a bandaid fix, and the Everglades will be among the first casualties.

Read the original article in the Gainesville Sun at this link.Scroll

Editorial: Dealing with climate deniers

Vehicles negotiate heavily flooded streets in Miami Beach in September 2014. AP photo/Lynne Sladky

Published: Friday, September 4, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.”
Last Modified: Wednesday, September 2, 2015 at 2:59 p.m.”

They deny the validity of scientific research. They deny the evidence in front of their faces. But the most frustrating thing about some of Florida’s leading public officials isn’t that they deny the overwhelming evidence that climate change is happening. It’s that they actively fight those trying to stem the destruction that climate change is expected to bring.

Officials such as Florida’s attorney general are leading the charge to stop regulations that would reduce the carbon dioxide emissions contributing to climate change. Other statewide leaders are failing to prepare Florida for the devastation caused by rising sea levels.

“They are deniers of climate change,” U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said Monday during a visit to the University of Florida. “You better wake up and look at the facts and statistics.”

Nelson, D-Florida, is one of few leading elected officials in our state who recognize the threat of climate change. As The Sun reported, Nelson’s visit to UF included discussions of both the anecdotal evidence of and scientific research on climate change.

Nelson spoke of visiting a melting glacier in Alaska as well as the flooding happening in Miami Beach. The latter should be enough of a wake-up call that our coastal state is particularly vulnerable.

Miami Beach officials have already gotten the message. As the Christian Science Monitor recently reported, officials there are rebuilding roadways at a higher level and determining how many pumps are needed to keep the streets from flooding.

“We may not have all the answers, but we’re going to show that Miami Beach is not going to sit back and go underwater,” the city’s mayor, Philip Levine, told the Monitor.

The threat goes beyond Miami Beach. UF geology professor Andrea Dutton and an international team of researchers examined three decades of research and archives, concluding that conditions are ripe for a sea level rise of 20 feet or higher. Such as increase would inundate much of South Florida and other coastal parts of our state, home to 75 percent of the population.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a question of when,” Dutton said during the meeting with Nelson.

She said ice sheets will continue to melt even if carbon emissions were halted today. But we have a moral obligations to try to prevent the most extreme predictions from coming to pass.

The Obama administration’s new regulations on power plant emissions are a positive step. Yet Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is leading a 17-state lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency over the regulations. Bondi is also fighting a ballot initiative that would expand the use of solar power in our state.

Two Republican presidential contenders from Florida, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and former Gov. Jeb Bush, are also firmly in the camp of climate-change skeptics. So is Gov. Rick Scott, who denies news reports that he’s banned the use of the term “climate change” in his administration but can’t deny he has failed to develop a long-term plan for Florida to deal with climate change.

In an absence of state leadership, local officials are filling the void. As the Monitor reported, officials from four populous South Florida counties have formed a group that has identified the most vulnerable parts of the region and is making recommendations for action.

Alachua County is isolated from the coastal impacts of climate change, but will feel other effects. As Gainesville City Commissioner Helen Warren told The Sun, there isn’t enough discussion about the regional impact that climate change could have on agriculture and water quality.

We need to have those local discussions while keeping our state and national officials from standing in the way of efforts to address climate change. Don’t let the deniers win the day.

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