Category Archives: Ron DeSantis

Recent GOP Debate Makes One Thing Clear: The Current Republican Presidential Candidates Will Not Solve the Climate Change Crisis


Let me start by apologizing to Alexander Diaz, a student at Catholic University of America, and other young Americans for the appalling but extremely telling answers our generation received during this week’s Republican debate when asked about climate change. During the debate Alex asked the following astute question:

“Polls consistently show that young people’s number one issue is climate change. What would you do as President of the United States and leader of the Republican Party to calm their fears that the Republican Party does not care about climate change?”

The Fox News co-moderator, Martha MacCallum, then asked the candidates “for a show of hands” in response to her question: “Do you believe that human behavior is causing climate change?”

Sadly, none of the eight candidates on the stage vying for the Republican primary nomination raised their hands. Alex (and the rest of us) deserve each candidate’s answer on this profoundly important topic.

Acting like, well, a spoiled schoolboy, Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis, hastily then interrupted the moderator by outright avoiding the question and, instead, announcing:

“We’re not school children! Let’s have the debate.”

When asked again if that meant he was raising his hand he responded by saying “I don’t think that’s the way to do it” before railing on about the “corporate media’s treatment of Republicans versus Democrats” and talking about how he’s responded to hurricanes in our state rather than answering the actual question. The moderator and other candidates then repeatedly asked him if that was a “yes” or “a hand raise,” yet he remained silent. Silent to a generation, our country, and the world beyond.

Sadly, the governor of the state widely seen as ground zero for our climate crisis here in the United States, a place where large portions of our region face extinction from sea level rise, not only missed an incredible opportunity to show leadership on the most important topic on young people’s mind but, by repeatedly avoiding the question, he sent the clear message that he does not believe that humans are causing climate change nor is he interested in addressing the foundational cause of the problem: fossil fuel use and its resulting pollution.

Amidst the DeSantis comments, fellow candidate Vivek Ramaswamy was so eager to share his answer to Alex’s question he could not control himself, gleefully and smugly blurting out “my hands are in my pocket!” before taking over the answer by saying the following:

“It’s a hoax. Let us be honest as Republicans. I am the only person on the stage that’s not bought and sold for so I can say this! The climate change agenda is a hoax. The climate change agenda is a hoax. The anti-carbon agenda is the wet blanket on our economy. More people are dying of bad climate change policies than they are of actual climate.”

And, in the event it was not already crystal clear, later in the discussion Ramaswamy reiterated his position that oil and gas production should be increased, not reduced or eliminated as we transition towards sustainability, by touting: “drill, frack, burn coal, and embrace nuclear!”

If you were looking for hope from the Republican field, no matter how limited, then it came in the form of former South Carolina Governor and United Nations Ambassador under the Trump Administration Nikki Haley’s (the only female candidate in the race) comments when she said;

“Is climate change real? Yes, it is. But if you want to go and really change the environment, then we need to start telling China and India that they have to lower their emissions.”

The limited discussion on climate change from a group of supposed prospective leaders, like the rest of the “debate,” was disappointing and often even condescending to listeners intellect. As a country our leaders, no matter their political affiliation, need to be far better than what I watched and heard, especially on the reality of our climate change crisis and its foundational cause.

If you want to be disappointed by the Republican candidates, click the image below so you can watch the full five minute “climate change” discussion:

The good news is that under President Biden’s leadership, the bipartisan supported Inflation Reduction Act passed and was signed into law about a year ago. That bill, supported by both Republican and Democrat legislators, included the promise of an initial $400 million green energy stimulus package, much of which is in the form of tax credits. The IRA is by far the biggest step towards shifting our economy from one based upon fossil fuels to one fueled by sustainable energy.

The best news is that according to a study by the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School and Goldman Sachs, the bill’s tax credits have been so popular over the past year that the actual impact is now estimated to be approximately $1.2 trillion. And, while even that staggering amount will not solve our climate crisis, it’s most certainly a positive step into the future and a far better reflection of where we need to go than was evident in last week’s rhetoric-filled Republican debate.

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


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”.



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?


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.