By Joseph Bonasia, Citizens’ Climate Lobby
What are our senators waiting for?
The Center for Climate Integrity projects that due to sea-level rise Florida will spend $76 billion by 2040 for seawalls alone.
Some municipalities are already allocating money to fortify beaches, raise infrastructure, and restore storm buffers such as mangrove forests. Miami Beach, for example, has started spending $200 million on climate resiliency projects.
Because of changes in how FEMA will calculate flood insurance, some Florida homeowners will soon see their rates increase 5,000%. “That’s not a typo,” USA Today reports. “Five thousand percent.”
A 2020 fiscal analysis for Florida State Senate Bill 7016 estimated that within 80 years Florida could lose more than $300 billion in property value due to rising sea levels and flooding.
Some coastal areas will simply be too expensive to protect and will be abandoned.
Our senators know these things.
The risk of mosquito-borne disease will increase because of climate change as will deaths from increased heat.
Last month, 22 health organizations including the American Lung Association, the American Public Health Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics issued “A Declaration on Climate Change and Health.” They asserted that the “health impacts of climate change demand immediate action.” Florida’s senior population is especially vulnerable as are children 5 years and younger.
Our senators know these health effects just as they know that in its “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” the U.S. Department of Defense said climate change is a “threat multiplier” to national security because it will “intensify the challenges of global stability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.”
They know that 79 military bases, which are economic boons to communities and eight of which are in Florida, are at physical risk from climate change.
Do our senators think climate action will harm jobs, businesses, and the economy, or pose undue financial burden on American families? Are they betting on American technological innovation to save the day?
Their staffs keep them well-informed, so they know that Business Roundtable CEOs, representing 15 million American employees and $7.5 trillion in revenue, assert a carbon tax “is the most important consideration for encouraging innovation, driving efficiency, and ensuring sustained environmental and economic effectiveness.”
They know the United States Commodities Trade Commission affirms “climate change poses serious emerging threats to the U.S. financial system” and that a price on carbon “is the single most important step to manage climate risk.”
They know that four former Chairs of the Federal Reserve and thousands of American economists on both sides of the political aisle wrote in the Wall Street Journal: “A carbon tax offers the most cost-effective lever to reduce carbon emissions at the scale and speed that is necessary…A consistently rising carbon price will encourage technological innovation…promote economic growth” and “American families, including the most vulnerable, will benefit financially by receiving more in ‘carbon dividends’ than they pay in increased energy prices.”
Our senators know that studies indicate a market-based, carbon fee and dividend program will reduce greenhouse gas emissions 40% in 12 years and 90% in 30 years, save tens of thousands of lives annually, create millions of jobs, spur technological innovation, and put money in most people’s pockets.
So, what in the sea level-rising, storm-struck, ever hotter world are they waiting for?
They are waiting for “permission” from their conservative constituents to act. So says Bob Inglis, former South Carolina conservative Congressman and current director of RepublicEN.org. There are, he states, Republicans in Congress who favor climate action but worry their political base does not.
Perhaps what our senators do not yet know is that “The age of conservative climate disputation is over,” as the RepublicEN website says.
Conservative Floridians must enlighten them. Call. Write. Knock on their office doors.
What are our senators waiting for? They are waiting for you.
Joseph Bonasia is Citizens’ Climate Lobby Volunteer Liaison to Senator Rick Scott’s office.
“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.