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Monday, December 03, 2018
Editorial: Florida hurt by inaction on climate change (Gainesville Sun)
By The Gainesville Sun editorial board
Posted Dec 2, 2018 at 2:01 AM
Florida is on the front lines of climate change and its elected officials should be leading the charge to prevent its most severe consequences.
A recently released scientific report from 13 federal agencies found that if significant measures aren’t taken to reduce global warming, the United States could take a 10 percent hit to its gross domestic product by the end of the century.
“The cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action,” said Andrea Dutton, an associate professor of geology at the University of Florida and an expert on rising sea levels.
Rising sea levels, which lead to greater storm surge and coastal flooding, are just one way that Florida is already feeling the effects of climate change. Worsening heat waves, increasing rainfall and the wider spread of insect-borne diseases are other ways climate change hurts the economy, environment and health in the Southeast, according to the report.
Thankfully some in Florida’s congressional delegation are seeking to reduce the carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. Last week U.S. Reps. Charlie Crist, D-St. Petersburg; Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton; and Francis Rooney, R-Naples; were among lawmakers who introduced a carbon tax that would return the revenue back to the public to offset higher energy costs.
Supporters say the measure would reduce carbon pollution by 40 percent within a decade and 91 percent by 2050. Those reductions would be larger than former President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan or the U.S. commitment under the Paris climate agreement.
President Donald Trump has sought to roll back the Clean Power Plan and exit the Paris agreement, while expressing doubt about climate change as well as the conclusions of the recent report from his own government.
Florida can’t afford to let such anti-science sentiment cause additional years of inaction on climate change. The public needs to press climate change skeptics who are among Florida’s elected officials — including U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho of Gainesville and newly elected Gov. Ron DeSantis and U.S. Sen. Rick Scott — to protect our state by working to reduce emissions and mitigate the damage that can’t be stopped.
The “Green New Deal” proposed by newly elected U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., would help our country transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Here in Gainesville, the City Commission passed a resolution in August pledging that Gainesville Regional Utilities will get all of its energy from renewable sources by 2045.
Gainesville is already a state leader with 27 percent of its energy coming from renewable resources, with about 25 percent from the biomass plant and 2 percent from solar power. Efforts such as the local League of Women Voters’ solar co-op will hopefully continue to increase the use of solar panels on area homes.
Florida and the nation can’t afford to delay action on climate change. Investing now in the transition to renewable energy will save far greater costs to our economy and our lives for generations to come.