By Mary Anna Mancuso, RepublicEn.org
Gov. Ron DeSantis had the opportunity to be Florida’s modern version of Teddy Roosevelt, a leader who embraced conservation. Instead he has chosen to be using our environmentally fragile state as a tool in his campaign to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
The governor was a breath of fresh air when he first came into office. Gone were the days when just mentioning climate change as a state employee was forbidden. (Though sadly, the issuer of those orders now works for us in the U.S. Senate.)
Early in his term, DeSantis showed his leadership by hiring the state’s first Chief Resilience Officer, our first Chief Science Officer, and seemed to recognize that Florida can ill-afford to make climate change the polarizing, partisan issue that it can be at the national level.
Frankly, we have too much at stake. Both the state’s environment and economy are threatened by sea-level rise, algae blooms, king tides, violent storms and flooding. DeSantis knows these threats are real, which is why he’s committing so much fiscal power into adaptation.
But the state needs to do more than adapt to a changing climate. We need to reduce emissions and because carbon dioxide emissions can’t be controlled by just one state, our lawmakers at the federal level need to act decisively too.
What we don’t need is more harmful rhetoric. For example, DeSantis recently said, “What I’ve found is, people when they start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. We’re not doing any left-wing stuff.”
He shared that observation at an event highlighting a $270 million commitment to 76 local grants that will help communities battle sea-level rise and inland flooding.
Governor, I along with my fellow Floridians expected better of you.
It’s fine to disagree with the climate proposals put forth by Democrats, but to call those policy ideas “left-wing stuff” fans the flames of partisanship.
This isn’t who or what Florida is.
According to a recent survey conducted by Florida Atlantic University, 88 percent of Floridians think climate change is real, a number that has doubled in less than two years.
“The climate change issue may therefore no longer be an effective campaign trail theme for the state’s party leaders as both parties gear up for the midterm elections,” the survey read. Given Florida’s firm bipartisan position on climate change, the “left-wing stuff” comment leaves me wondering what DeSantis is trying to do.
Is he representing the concerns of Florida’s residents or is he positioning himself for a run at the White House?
Florida deserves a governor who is going to transcend the partisanship shown in federal politics and do what is right for the state. Tossing out inflammatory language for political points won’t ease seal-level rise or protect us from the 2022 hurricane season.
“Be very careful of people trying to smuggle in their ideology,” DeSantis warned at the adaptation announcement.
Point taken, Governor, point taken.
Mary Anna Mancuso is a spokesperson for RepublicEn.org and political strategist based in New York, NY.
“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.