DeSantis and other Florida Republicans face the problem of climate change


In 2018, then lawmaker. When Ron DeSantis (Florida Republican) was running for Governor of Florida, he proudly distanced himself from the science of climate change. “I’m not in the pews of a global warming left church.” He said in campaign. “I’m not a global warming person. I don’t want to be labeled as that.”

But with rising ocean temperatures making hurricanes more powerful and rising sea levels making storm surges worse, DeSantis, like many other Florida residents, may not be able to afford to ignore climate change. there is. Part of the state’s Gulf Coast was devastated by Hurricane Ian this week. The hurricane was a Category 4 hurricane, creating 10-foot storm surges that destroyed homes and businesses and stranded hundreds of residents.

of The Associated Press reported That “Ian’s sharp intensification It occurred after traveling through Caribbean waters that were 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) warmer than normal, largely due to climate change. That warm water creates “more rocket fuel for the storm,” his Phil Klotzbach, a hurricane researcher at Colorado State University, told his Associated Press.

Despite established solid science linking climate change to more powerful hurricanes and sea level rise exacerbating their impact, many Florida Republican politicians, including the governor of Florida and both senators, Resist government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. causing warming. But while they refuse to acknowledge that the burning of fossil fuels is the root cause of climate change, they also attempt to manage the growing risks that scientists have linked to global warming. I have to.

Wind beats palm trees off Sarasota Bay during Hurricane Ian.

Gusts of wind blow over Sarasota Bay as Hurricane Ian heads south in Sarasota, Fla., on Sept. 28. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

DeSantis has embraced spending on the restoration of Everglades wetlands and the “resilience” of coastal cities, such as improving drainage and raising seawalls. Last May, he said the state “needs to address the challenges posed by flooding and intensifying storms.” [and] sea ​​level rise. ” Without labeling the issue a climate change issue, DeSantis administrative estimate That sea-level rise will put $26 billion in residential Florida at risk from regular flooding by 2045.

The governor dared not explain why sea levels are rising and storms are intensifying, and acknowledged that human activity is causing climate change, which is a way for people to mitigate its severity. He explained that he was concerned that he would accept the premise that he had to change.

“What I’ve found is that when people start talking about things like global warming, they usually use it as an excuse to do a lot of left-wing stuff they just want to do,” DeSantis said. rice field. at the event About last year’s sea level rise. “We are not doing anything left-wing.”

DeSantis’ record on climate change was not as hardline as his jiu-jitsu comments suggest. He appointed the state’s first Resilience His Officer, but didn’t bother to find a replacement after the appointee left the job a few months later. He also created the position of Chief Scientific Officer. When he appointed Michael La Rosa, the Florida chairman of the U.S. Legislative Exchange Council, an organization known to advocate for fossil fuel-friendly policies, to the Florida Public Service Commission, which oversees the state’s utilities, the environmental Conservationists were disappointed.

DeSantis also endorsed the purchase of 20,000 acres of land in the Everglades to prevent oil development, and the state is spending money on electric vehicle charging stations. he even refused A utility bill that would have dragged down the rooftop solar market.

However, Florida is lagging behind in utility-scale renewable energy and is one of the few states that does not legally require utilities to increase renewable energy production.And this summer, DeSantis Proposed ban State pension funds do not need to consider climate change vulnerability and carbon emissions in their investments.

DeSantis’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trailer park canal strewn with debris and campervans.

After Hurricane Irma on September 12, 2017, the canals of the Marathon Florida Trailer Park in the Florida Keys are filled with debris and campers. (Mark Serota/Getty Images)

The impacts of climate change present daily challenges for Florida’s coastal communities.Waterfront communities from St. Petersburg to Miami will see flooding even on sunny days due to rising sea levels, study suggests problem will get worse in the next few years.

In recent years, the state has experienced more intense storms due to rising water temperatures and increased evaporation from hot air.

The state also has no shortage of devastating storms along with the rapid temperature increases witnessed in recent decades. Hurricane Her Irma hit Florida and its northern neighbors in her 2017. 129 dead and $54 billion in damages. The following year, Hurricane Michael landed in the Panhandle of Florida as a Category 5 storm, killing 59 people and causing $25.1 billion in damage in the United States.Numerous studies have shown that hurricanes have gotten stronger because of climate change, and many scientists say the impact was obvious. at Irma and Michael.

Surrounded by mostly young supporters, Gov. Ron DeSantis gives a press conference at a podium marked

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis holds a press conference at the Anna Maria Oyster Bar Landside in Bradenton, Florida.

Of course, DeSantis isn’t the only elected official in Florida who wants to avoid that debate. In 2015, when Senator Rick Scott (Florida Republican) was governor, the Florida Research and Reporting Center reported Employees of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection “according to former DEP employees, consultants, volunteers, and records use the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in official communications, emails, or reports. I was ordered not to. The Scott administration denied that such a ban had been issued.

But Scott’s public statements often cast doubt on climate science. “Obviously, our environment is constantly changing. I don’t know if it’s the cycle we’re going through or if it’s man-made,” he says. says Mr. After Hurricane Irma.

As a senator, Scott recently moved to acknowledge the existence of climate change, but opposes action to address it. “The weather is always changing,” Scott said in his 11-item political roadmap, “The Plan for America.” released this year In his capacity as chairman of the National Republican Senate Committee. “We take climate change seriously, but we are not hysterical.

Senator Marco Rubio.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks outside the White House during a Sept. 15 press conference (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Republican Florida Senator Marco Rubio acknowledges that the planet is warming, but “many scientists will debate the proportion of human-caused variability versus normal variability.” claims.

But a leading climate scientist says: there is amazing unanimity In their community about long-standing findings that greenhouse gas emissions and deforestation are the main causes of global warming. In fact, according to a 2021 paper, his 99.9% of peer-reviewed scientific papers find that climate change is largely caused by humans. Survey of 88,125 climate studies.

Rubio attended the Senate Climate Solutions caucuses, bill approved Addressing some of the impacts of climate change, including measures to restore both the Everglades and coastal reefs. However, he opposes actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and favors increasing production of fossil fuels whose burning caused problems in the first place.

“Americans, especially Floridians, are right to worry about climate change,” he wrote in 2019 USA Today op-ed“But they’re also right to worry about regressive overreactions.” [climate change] The problem is manageable. ”

Both Rubio and Scott have lifespans voting scorecard From the League of Conservation Voters, an American environmental advocacy group, 7% of.

Senators Rick Scott (left) and Marco Rubio.

Florida Senators Rick Scott and Marco Rubio speak to reporters outside the West Wing of the White House on January 22, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Republicans in Florida weren’t always eco-friendly. Republican Governor Jeb Bush established a conservation program that set aside his $100 million in state funding for environmental protection projects, continuing under Republican successor Charlie Christ.scott cut it Under $28 million. Christo is currently a Democratic congressman running against DeSantis for governor.

Former President Donald Trump, who also lives in Florida, has also made his views on climate change clear by saying it is a hoax set up by the Chinese government to undermine the US economy.

The political polarization that has worsened under the Trump administration has further pushed Republicans in Florida into anti-environmental stances as the state’s economy comes under increasing attack from the effects of climate change.

But climate scientists say the threat to Florida is so existential that denial of climate science is untenable in the long run. Peter Grieg is can be said like this: “The upcoming Hurricane Ian will raise sea levels by 3 feet and irreparably destroy Central and South Florida.”

How is climate change making hurricanes worse? Read Yahoo Immersive’s explanation for more.