By Dr. Nicole Kirchhoff, marine biologist
As a businesswoman with fiscally conservative political leanings, I grow angrier by the day with officials who incited a violent insurrection by spreading lies about elections that, like or not, Democrats won fair and square.
But I’m not surprised that Republicans would place all of us in such grave danger for personal political gain. Recall the mountains of misinformation most of them spread about climate change. Those falsehoods stymied the adoption of clean-energy technologies, costing all of us the benefits of a clean-energy economy, while putting every person and ecosystem on this planet in jeopardy.
Florida is particularly vulnerable to the damage caused by the warming climate. You’d think a sense of urgency would overcome political obstinance. Yet only two Republicans in Florida’s congressional delegation, Congressmen Carlos Curbelo and Francis Rooney, have put forward serious, conservative solutions to the climate crisis.
Neither is still in office, leaving a climate leadership vacuum in the Florida delegation, to whom I ask — who among you will lead this country toward an equitable carbon pricing system, one that relies heavily market-based solutions to the climate crisis?
Will it be you, Congressman Brian Mast? You clearly realize that Florida’s water management infrastructure cannot handle the increased flooding caused by sea-level rise and wetter hurricanes, which cause septic tank effluent from local basins and toxic canal discharges from Lake Okeechobee to deluge the 18th district. While I appreciate your focus on the Everglades, business owners with expertise like me would like to work with you to develop conservative climate solutions that help everyone.
Congressman Vern Buchanan, thank you for voting against pulling out of the Paris Accord, the international agreement that set significant, binding greenhouse gas reduction goals. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce recently rated you tops in Florida for your record of bipartisanship and creating jobs.
You have the standing and respect to lead bi-partisan efforts to pass effective carbon-pricing legislation that grows jobs in a clean-energy economy. Job creation and sparing the country from the worst climate outcomes could be your legacy.
And you, Sen. Marco Rubio? Last year, you joined the Senate Climate Solutions Caucus. You’ve also showed some initiative in the climate fight by securing funding for an important Army Corps of Engineers resilience study called the South Atlantic Coastal Study.
Furthermore, you helped secure money to make wastewater treatment and collection systems function properly despite flooding challenges worsened by climate change. Should you someday run for President and win, one can imagine climate leadership as the hallmark of your presidency. Running on a strong, pro-climate platform could help you earn the votes of young fiscal conservatives like me, as well as undecided Hispanic voters, who are disproportionately affected by climate change.
How about you, Congressman Michael Waltz? You’ve recognized the causes of climate change and celebrated the construction of a solar farm in your district. You served in combat as a Green Beret, so surely you know climate change is causing more extreme weather that destabilize the geopolitics of entire regions. How will you make the issue of climate security of paramount importance to national and international security?
Congressman John Rutherford, you campaigned on the promises of securing your district’s wastewater infrastructure from the effects of climate change. As the former Sherriff of Duval County, surely you also realize that rising air temperatures increase rates of violencein societies.
When people get uncomfortably hot, the likelihood of physical aggression and violence increase. At this particular moment, we need cooler heads and civil discourse, not violence. How will you lead us toward a saner, more productive society through climate legislation?
Congressman Greg Steube, you served in a war that was essentially over oil. What’s your plan to convert us to a clean energy economy that creates jobs, reduces the risk of more wars, and saves our priceless estuaries?
And to the new Republican members—Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, Congressman Byron Donalds, and Congressman Carlos Gimenez—I ask, what are your proposed climate solutions? You represent districts that are among the nation’s most vulnerable to sea-level rise and hurricanes. What constructive, fiscally responsible, bipartisan policy ideas do you have that would protect your constituents—and all Floridians?
The longer we wait to act, the more expensive it will be to solve the climate crisis. It’s high time that Florida’s Congressional Delegation provide workable solutions to the climate crisis. Championing science-based, free market solutions to the climate crisis is one way that Republicans can regain credibility after waging wars against the truth for so long.
Dr. Nicole Kirchhoff is a marine biologist who owns Live Advantage Bait based in Stuart. The business provides forage fish to bait shops along the Indian River Lagoon. She is also a spokesperson for RepublicEN, an organization that believes in the power of American free enterprise and innovation to solve climate change.
“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.