Malcolm Denemark / Florida Today

FL - 2020 Showed Florida That Sustainability and Resilience Are the Only Way Forward

This year made Floridians feel climate change in our daily lives as we slogged through a supercharged hurricane season, extreme rainfall, and heat, in the midst of a pandemic.

Our woes joined those of others around the world: massive wildfires in the West, melting permafrost in the North, and drought in the rainforests.  Across the country, we watched in horror as minority families, exposed to legacy pollution and environmental injustices for decades, now bore the worst of the COVID-19 deaths.

Here in hurricane alley, Florida was lucky this year, but 31 named storms wreaked billions in damages, leaving coastal Louisiana in ruins and already-impoverished Honduras in desperate condition. Huge storms fueled by a warm ocean intensified frighteningly fast as they came ashore.  Next year, it could be us.

The warm seas also brought a record-setting rainy season. Florida’s coastal communities mopped up after 30 inches of rain in a single month, on top of the now-familiar king tide flooding, which is also increasing. Residents were warned not to pump their failing septic tanks, out of concern the high water table would float them out of the ground.

The climate crisis is costlier for Florida than any other state in the country, and the threat to our economy is grave.  By 2050, sea-level rise threatens to decrease the state’s  the state’s property value by 35 percent. Our beaches are at risk, as is our tourist-based economy. COVID-19 has given us a preview of what a tourist-free economy might look like.

How, one wonders, do we reconcile these estimates with the absurd statements of our own Sen. Marco Rubio, who, citing no evidence, contradicts 3,589 of the nation’s top economists by insisting a carbon fee “…would set our state back, depriving us of the resources we desperately need to continue to adapt.”

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