Category Archives: Florida Governor

Governor Reality? Let The Sunshine In

“Our economic potential will be jeopardized if we do not solve the problems afflicting our environment and water resources”

– Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis

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Congrats to Florida’s new Governor Ron DeSantis who was installed last Thursday as Florida’s 46th Governor. Thanks are in order to Governor DeSantis for quickly giving those of us who have been desperate for environmental leadership here in the Sunshine State following eight bleak, dark, years during your predecessor’s two terms some rays of, well, sunshine over the first few days of your Administration. I look forward to working with you, the Department of Environmental Regulation and other Florida leaders to protect our state’s future.

We have so much work to do to catch up on to protect and save Florida that I am hesitant to show too much optimism, eight years of Rick Scott will suppress anyone’s hope for solutions, but the news in the first few days of the DeSantis Governorship hold positive promise and include:

1. The appointment of a Florida “Chief Science” Officer. The fact that you understand the value of science and research is, on its own, a tremendous step in the right direction and a dramatic difference as compared to your predecessor. Thank you.

2. The creation of the Office of Environmental Accountability and Transparency to coordinate science and data with the state government’s various departments and agencies is also welcomed news. Using the words accountability and transparency with the word environmental here in Florida are almost impossible to believe after the past eight years. Bravo.

3. Your Executive Order is about as important a change in direction towards protecting Florida as anyone could hope for. It seeks a whopping $ 2.5 Billion for Everglades restoration, a task force to address toxic algae and directs the South Florida Management District to begin fixing Lake Okeechobee (and in a separate, but surely related, step late last week the Governor requested that the entire Board of the South Florida Water Management District resign so as to ‘clean house’ and seemingly pave the way to clean the Everglades and Lake in the process). Wow.

Your Order also makes clear your opposition to oil and gas exploration, including fracking, along Florida’s coasts. Floridians, I am certain, appreciate your position but also how strongly you expressed your view by stating that Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection shall “adamantly oppose all off-shore oil and gas activities off every coast in Florida and hydraulic fracturing in Florida”. Floridians of every political party celebrate your position on this important topic and especially appreciate the word “adamantly”, something we all agree upon and a position that would seem to even challenge your number one supporter during last year’s campaign, President Trump.

And yes, within that same Executive Order we find your direction that Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection create the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection. As your Order stated, the purpose of this new Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection is to “help prepare Florida’s coastal communities and habitats for impacts from sea level rise by providing funding, technical assistance and coordination among state, regional and local entities”.

Wait.

What?

Did Florida’s new Republican Governor use the three words “sea”, “level” and “rise” together? That alone is a dramatic step forward and I for one am sincerely grateful that Governor DeSantis appears to arrive in office carrying a dose of reality that our state can’t survive unless we address climate change. It’s possible that the fact that we don’t have a day to wait to begin solving our climate change crisis and within it the threat to Florida’s very future, certainly that of South Florida, from sea level rise has begun to sink in.

His name might be Ron, but perhaps in time he will become known as Governor Reality and show what I have long thought, that Florida can have a robust economic future while addressing the causes and impacts of climate change. The Governor might not want to publicly debate or dissect man’s impact in causing this crisis but, as long as he sets in motion policies, processes and funding to allow Florida to begin solving its share of the problem and to mitigate its impact as much as possible, then that might just work. It sure is a start. And speaking of work, and a start, how about we work to make Florida a global leader in the production of solar panels and technology? How about we work together to see solar power installed everywhere and in doing so create new businesses and great paying jobs all over Florida so that The Sunshine State can become The Solar State?

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Okay, enough “hopeful” talking from a kid for now. Now “let’s get to work” on protecting Florida and trying to save South Florida in particular from the threat from sea level rise. With a new year, Governor and direction upon us let’s embrace what these initial steps suggest might be achievable; that we set politics aside as absolutely much as possible and focus on the science and solving our significant environmental problems.

You can read more about Governor DeSantis new policies and how both esteemed writer Carl Hiaasen and the Miami Heralds Editorial Board  by clicking here and here. You can read Governor DeSantis Executive Order by clicking here.

“When the History of This Era is Written, Who’ll Be to Blame?”

Most people would agree that when you visit your doctor, someone who is a scientist by education of course, and she tells you that she’s 98% sure of one thing or another you don’t hesitate to follow her advice. That percentage is so high it speaks for itself and leaves little to no doubt that you don’t even question it and, instead, you take action.

And yet when it comes to climate change and our dire need to begin to materially fix the problem by shifting to sustainable energy something is different.

We know that 98% of scientists that have studied the issue have concluded that climate change is not only real but substantially made by man. And mind you, that overwhelming percentage of climate scientists that have come to that conclusion did so after being subjected to rigorous, peer reviewed, expert professional analysis from folks who are skeptical by nature and spend their days asking questions so as to seek the factual truth to support their answers and views.

So if 98% of scientists have the same view, have drawn the same conclusion, then why are we so slow to change our ways and move into the future by doing what’s right?

And speaking of percentages, if you live in a place like South Florida for any length of time as I have then you are 100% certain that we have a problem, that things are changing, that the temperature and water all around us are rising. You don’t need someone to tell you what your eyes and brain make clear and yet many in Washington and elsewhere spend a significant amount of their time working on ways to either keep things the way they are or make them worse rather than better, when better is so obviously achievable.

Why are we not taking more decisive action to address our warming planet?

Why do we pander to those who question the science when those who have spent careers studying it have nearly no doubt and, even if they are slightly off in their projections, would making our world cleaner, safer and cooler not be the wise and decent thing to do anyway?

The answer to our collective lack of sufficient action can often be found in our mass media. When the media runs a piece on what is so obviously happening and has expert opinion explaining the science and solutions it often feels compelled to have a dissenting voice express their opinion even though the facts, and the truth, is so single sided. The moment the media places someone who suggests that earth is not warming, that man is not at fault, that one thing or another is “normal” they provide the stage for that person to be seen as a 50/50 equal to their counterpart on that same screen and that, for the public, can be terribly misleading.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is most certainly a member of the mass media. He is a long time, magnificent, opinion writer for the Miami Herald who eloquently describes much of what people call the human condition but he does so with a heart and soul that often brings tears to my eyes. His work on race relations, gun control and any number of other important topics is nothing short of brilliant and I am so very pleased that he’s written about a change at the British Broadcasting Corp (BBC) than you need to consider and then, please, share.

In his wonderful piece entitled When the history of this era is written, who’ll be to blame?, Mr. Pitts thankfully shares his concerns by using this recent BBC memo, which itself uses climate change to illustrate its point, to explain why the new BBC policy is so important to all of us receiving the truth and to then taking action before it’s too late.  In fact, the BBC explains that it “gets climate change wrong too often” and concludes that “you don’t need a denier to balance the debate.”

Mr. Pitts explains what he calls “bothsiderism” and describes how the BBC warns its employees to “be aware of a false balance.”  I hope that he and the Herald don’t mind but it’s so important, and his voice so important, that I had to share it with you today:

Shared from the 2018-09-12 The Miami Herald eEdition

When the history of this era is written, who’ll be to blame?

BY LEONARD PITTS JR. lpitts@miamiherald.com

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A prediction.

When the history of this era is written, when future generations wonder how a mostly-educated and largely-literate nation became mired in “truthiness,” when they ask how we became so mentally muddled that we lost the ability to identify facts and the capacity to care, they’ll find many culprits.

They’ll blame Fox “News” for feeding the fearful a steady diet of hogwash designed to make them feel beset, encircled and put upon.

They’ll blame Alex Jones for spinning webs of conspiracy so bizarre and convoluted as to shame Fox Mulder.

They’ll blame schools for failing to teach young people to think critically.

They’ll blame Donald Trump for being Donald Trump.

But they will also blame many of us in the non-Fox news media for our failure to be energetic advocates for, and defenders of, the actual, factual truth. They will blame us for surrendering to a boneless “bothsideism” that simulates professional impartiality at the cost of clarity and fact.

Which is what makes a new memo from the BBC such bracing reading. The subject is relatively narrow — climate change — and the intended audience is only the company’s own troops. But the point the memo makes should give pause to all of us who consume or report the news.

“Be aware of ‘false balance,’” it warns. “…To achieve impartiality, you do not need to include outright deniers of climate change in BBC coverage, in the same way you would not have someone denying that Manchester United won 2-0 last Saturday.”

And isn’t that a novel idea? BBC reporters are henceforth free to report on climate change without feeling bound to include those who insist it doesn’t exist. They are free to treat facts as factual.

Sadly, that notion would be resisted here. In the first place, climate change deniers would raise a squall. But journalists, addicted to conflict and confrontation and to a misguided idea of what it takes to be “fair and balanced” would likely also be up in arms.

Never mind that neither fairness nor balance require us to report discredited and disreputable information. Never mind, either, that winning the debate is not the point for climate change deniers anyway. No, they win simply by being included, thus wringing from us an implicit concession that they represent a point of view worth hearing. Even when they do not.

As deniers of tragedies from the Holocaust to the Civil War to the Parkland shooting prove, both-side-ism isn’t just a journalistic problem. But it is in journalism that it is arguably most consequential.

One recalls with a grimace how reporters treated Hillary Clinton’s sloppy handling of emails as an object of concern equivalent to the racism, misogyny, mendacity, ineptitude, ignorance and corruption that trail Trump like an odor. Indeed, a survey by the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center found that over the course of the full campaign, Clinton actually received more negative media coverage than he did.

More.

Two years later, most of us would likely agree there was no comparison between the two. Too bad more of us did not come to that obvious conclusion back when it mattered.

Yes, reporters should strive for impartiality. They should strive to be open-minded. But they should also strive to cover the world as fully and factually as they can.

The BBC seems to have reached a moment of, well…truth in that regard. American journalists would be well advised to emulate them. Tomorrow’s historians will record that we helped lead the country into this mess.

The least we can do is to help lead it out.

To read the new BBC Memo, click here. And once done please consider sharing it with every media outlet you can find in hopes we can stop trying to turn the science of climate change into reality television.  And to read Mr. Pitts article on the Herald’s website, or to order a subscription and to continue to enjoy his amazing work please visit https://www.carbonbrief.org/exclusive-bbc-issues-internal-guidance-on-how-to-report-climate-change

Who’ll be to blame? Let us put a stop to the political madness by agreeing that the debate over whether climate change is real has ended and that the time to begin solving the problem by shifting away from fossil fuels and to sustainable energy has begun.

To do that we must demand far more of our leaders (read more about that by clicking here) and each other or else there will be an infinite amount of blame to go around as we watch our South Florida sink into extinction.