Hoping to get Florida’s new governor to pay attention to one of the state’s largest environmental problems, officials with several statewide organizations delivered a letter signed by 3,400 Floridians to Ron DeSantis Tuesday urging him to address climate change.
“After eight years of total inaction with the governor’s office, Ron DeSantis now has a unique opportunity to reorient Florida to face the growing issues associated with climate change and sea-level rise,” said Aliki Moncrief, executive director with Florida Conservation Voters, who delivered the letter to the governor’s office.
“This is a nonpartisan issue that affects all Floridians,” she added. “The Governor-elect has no choice but to make climate action a top priority. We are running out of time.”
Low-lying Florida is already seeing the effects of climate change, including higher floodwaters in coastal areas, changes in vegetation and wildlife, stronger and more frequent storms, and record-breaking warm temperatures. The letter calls on DeSantis to do four specific actions upon taking office:
1) Acknowledge climate change as the serious threat that it is and foster a transition to clean renewable energy sources that reduce Florida’s dependence on fossil fuels.
2) Implement meaningful monitoring, protection, and preservation of our waterways. Appoint scientists – not industry insiders – to water protection boards. Preserve, protect, and increase wetlands, which serve as a natural buffer for storms, and a filter to improve water quality.
3) Make polluters pay to clean up their own mess.
4) Create a Florida Future Fund to support resilient infrastructure investments, and to protect those who are the most vulnerable.
Outgoing Florida Gov. Rick Scott was hammered by environmentalists over the past eight years for being unresponsive in addressing climate change, which is already affecting the state. Scott supported Donald Trump’s decision to unilaterally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, and reportedly banned the phrases “global warming” and “climate change” from state documents, though his office denied those charges.
“I grew up in South Florida, where sunny day flooding is a growing threat. I signed this letter to Governor-elect DeSantis because I worry that my future is compromised,” said Ashley Johnson, a senior at Florida State University. “We need a governor who will listen to scientists and take action now to prevent sea level rise from destroying my hometown. So many of the treasured places where I grew up – kayaking or swimming – like the Everglades and our coasts will disappear if our state doesn’t act now.”
Other groups signing onto the letter include the Sierra Club, Environment Florida and the CLEO Institute.