A Political Ploy?

Ron DeSantis announces $2.5B investment in Everglades restoration

Florida’s new Governor, Ron DeSantis, has rightfully gotten a lot of positive press from the surprise news of this week’s lengthy environmentally focused Executive Order (12-19, which you can find here). The Order touches on a long list of important topics including that he wants to spend $2.5 billion on Everglades restoration, plans to appoint Florida’s first ever Chief Science Officer, is creating our state’s first ever Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, and is calling for a renewed focus on accountability, transparency, and science to make decisions while also suggesting that Florida must prepare for the impacts of sea level rise and “adamantly” oppose off-shore oil drilling.

I am certainly pleased to learn that our natural environment is seemingly important to our Governor but hope you will excuse my wanting to see real action before becoming a believer. Following eight years of former Governor Rick Scott’s climate change denial and efforts to erase associated phrases such as “sea level rise” and “global warming” from state publications or speech, much less a growing algae disaster in Florida’s waters, DeSantis’ words hold the potential to be refreshing.

That said, time will tell how this all works out and whether Governor DeSantis is sincere or simply shrewd. He’s apparently a smart guy, a graduate of both Yale (Undergrad) and Harvard (Law School). That also, however, means he’s smart enough to know that the environment is important to Florida voters who, when polled, consistently make protecting it a top priority for our political leaders. The carefully worded Executive Order, and his public comment to the press, clearly, for example, avoid addressing or discussing the causes of climate change, namely the carbon dioxide and methane gases that are destroying our atmosphere and warming the Sunshine State and the rest of earth.

We don’t have any more time to play politics or avoid addressing the cause of the growing challenges our environment face whether how urban growth attacks the Everglades, the algae blooms in our waters from the agriculture industry use of fertilizer, or man’s role in creating our carbon induced climate crisis. These and other challenges require real, tough solutions yet it’s almost as if our new Governor has decided to forge a path on which he knows that simply uttering buzz phrases such as “sea level rise” will suggest he’s interested in doing something about these topics. Sorry, but all of this makes me worry and wonder, especially when I consider something then Congressman DeSantis said to reporters about climate change while on the campaign trail last year when running for Governor:

“I am not in the pews of the church of the global warming leftists.
I am not a global warming person.
I don’t want that label on me.”
Florida Congressman Ron DeSantis in 2019 while running for Governor
Perhaps Governor Scott’s rein has made me cynical but there is a part of me that wonders if Governor DeSantis’ new Executive Order might just be, perhaps, a political ploy to make us think he thinks that science and protecting the environment are important. Like I said, time will tell if any real action is taken to actually protect Florida’s fragile natural environment and our futures, but for now I will hold out hope that some progress might be possible under this administration.