By Claude Gerstle, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
With the change in the federal administration, Florida needs bipartisan agreement to assist the state in facing its climate future.
Tropical Storm Eta showed how sections of South Florida are so vulnerable to tropical storms that some residents were literally blown out of their homes by rushing water. The government’s own storm flood maps now predict that by 2050, 300,000 homes in Florida will be uninhabitable.
Some very good aspects of the U.S. House Clean Futures Act from the last legislative session could be included in a Senate plan. As a first step, emissions of methane have to be strictly controlled because it is such a potent greenhouse gas.
The EPA must be authorized to monitor methane leakage from oil and gas wells, pipelines and storage facilities and there must be severe penalties for violations. States need assistance to build the facilities to capture methane from sewage treatment plants.
The Agriculture Department needs to research and implement best practices for how farmers can reduce methane and nitrous oxide release from farming.
For Florida, especially, there should be funding for commercial scale demonstration projects for converting biomass to fuel. We will need infrastructure for refueling cars and trucks with either a compressed gas or electricity. These distributors will need assistance both for building and operating until enough vehicles powered by renewables are on the road.
Over the last 50 years, the U.S. has emitted over 50 gigatons of carbon dioxide, causing our oceans to acidify and our reefs to die. We need to fund research to reduce this acidification and to remove carbon dioxide from the water or air on a massive scale.
The Department of Energy has released a report showing a $30 per ton fee on carbon would be sufficient to pay for some of the projects and level the playing field for renewable energy sources to compete.
Florida is not a significant fossil fuel producer so changing to renewable sources would enrich the state and provide over 300,000 permanent full-time jobs
Dr. Claude Gerstle of Delray Beach is a member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, the MIT Alumni Club of Palm Beach, MIT Alumni for Climate Action and the Climate Reality Project.
“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.