President Obama is coming to Everglades National Park on Earth Day to talk about climate change.
His trip couldn’t come at a more critical time. The glaciers are melting faster than anyone could have predicted, and the Everglades and South Florida, just feet above sea level, cannot escape the ocean’s rise. He gets it and is willing to do something about it.
Miami, however, is in denial, as are many of our leaders in this state.
Miami is in the midst of a development frenzy fueled by international speculation and runaway growth policies. Massive condo towers sprout along the coast like weeds.
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The Miami-Dade County Commission just passed resolutions about sea-level rise, but banned discussion of what causes it — carbon, because it was too political. In the western Everglades, oil and gas frackers are poised to drill, baby, drill.
Our state, under Gov. Rick Scott, banned the use of the phrase climate change, and our new Secretary of Environmental Protection recently said it’s not clear what impact humans have on it.
The best thing our state could do to slow down the Everglades demise — buying sugar land — is being held up because leaders in Tallahassee have been too busy on Texas hunting trips sponsored by Big Sugar.
Miami’s native son and climate-change skeptic Sen. Marco Rubio said, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”
Those he referred to as “these scientists” represent the 97 percent of climate scientists, who say cutting carbon is the only way to slow down the rate of sea-level rise for the Everglades, Miami, and the hundreds of millions of coastal residents worldwide.
Scott and Rubio should end the denial and support Obama’s efforts to lower carbon.
Can Obama save South Florida?
I don’t know. But when his grandchildren ask him what he did to stop climate change, he will have an answer. And all the Florida officials who say the science isn’t settled and rely on walls and pumps to hold back the world’s oceans, well, they’ll just have to look away in silence.
Jonathan Ullman, South Florida/Everglades senior organizing representative, Sierra Club, Miami