Even back in the 1980's when I lived there, any time it rained, parts of South Tampa were nearly impossible to navigate due to flooding. I recall more than a few times being stuck in a flooded wake zone waiting for my car to dry out after a stall. That was just from typical summer afternoon showers. Since then, the city's leaders have tried to fix some of those problems. Yet flooding is still an issue there and it's likely to get worse.
Earlier this week, President Obama released The National Climate Assessment, and it had dire predictions for Florida. This should come as no surprise. Flooding is getting worse in South Florida amid previous warnings of sea level rise, and recently some residents of the Panhandle found themselves on "islands" after 22 inches of rain fell and flooded their neighborhoods in just a short amount of time.
The "debate" over climate change is over, unless you subscribe to the false narrative of those on the far right, which these days includes the GOP, fueled by those who stand to profit from climate change denial the most, like the oil and gas industry and their billionaires, like the Koch brothers. Talking points that originate in boardrooms or behind corporate doors are fed to outlets like FOX, and spread to viewers, right-wing blogs, and these days newspapers who have abandoned the pretense of objectivity, resorting to recycling that same narrative in cut and paste fashion. Unfortunately, the chattering class often drowns out the voices of common sense.
One would hope that climate reports like this one, and evidence that proves it to be correct, would finally push Florida politicians to take action.
Unfortunately, one would be wrong.
Aside from Democratic Senator Bill Nelson, none on the other side have budged. Republicans like Rick Scott, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio are content to ignore the facts even as Florida begins to sink into reality:
Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, supports carbon-cutting efforts, even as he acknowledges that they will come with some economic cost. In April, he convened a packed hearing at the Miami Beach City Hall on the encroaching waters.
“With sea level rise, you’ve got to get to core of the problem,” Mr. Nelson said at the hearing. “You have to lessen the amount of CO2. It’s politically treacherous and costly. But at the end of the day, something like that is going to have to get passed. Otherwise the planet is going to continue to heat up.”
But three prominent Florida Republicans — Senator Marco Rubio, former Gov. Jeb Bush and the current governor, Rick Scott — declined repeated requests to be interviewed on the subject.
Rubio, who is well known for being content to do nothing, has spoken up since the New York Times article referenced above.
Spoiler alert: He's still has nothing to offer beyond criticism worthy of a name-calling 5-yr-old:
“Here’s what we need to do as policy makers — because that’s what the president is, he’s not a meteorologist,” Rubio said. “He’s proposing a certain set of policies that he would have to admit, if questioned, will do nothing if in fact these scientists are right and it’s greenhouse gas emissions that are changing our climate, none of the things he’s proposing would do anything to change that whatsoever, but it would have a devastating impact on our economy.”
As Think Progress points out, Rubio has no clue what he's talking about, but is anyone surprised?
Rick Scott has said in the past that he doesn't believe in climate change, and that means another four years will be lost to inaction from the governor's office if he's reelected. A Scott spokesman indicates that he seems content to stick with being reactive rather than proactive, which he's still vague about:
"Gov. Scott has worked with the Division of Emergency Management to ensure our communities have the resources they need to protect families from flooding. Over the past three years, Florida has invested more than $130 million protecting communities along the coast from flood events."
Republicans are happy to continue burying their heads in what's left of Florida's sand, no matter the cost.