A Sea Change in Climate Politics

Something strange has happened in Florida: Rising seas have changed GOP views.

There was a surprise question about climate change at the last Republican debate.  What was surprising wasn’t the question itself.  Instead, it was the source of the question: Tomás Regalado, the Republican mayor of Miami. It turns out that this wasn’t a fluke.

Regalado and the Republican mayor of Miami Beach have spoken out in an op. ed. about climate change:

“The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the rising sea levels are caused by the planet warming, that the burning of fossil fuels is driving this warming, and that we need to act quickly to avoid the worst impacts ahead.

These are the facts. We shouldn’t waste time debating them.”

Or consider this, from a Republican Congressman:
“Rising sea levels and the erosion of our coastal communities have made it abundantly clear that South Florida is at the frontline of climate change. . . . If we want to diminish the impact that greenhouse gases will continually have on our planet over the next century, the effort to constrain carbon emissions must be expanded.”
These politicians are responding not only to climate realities but to political ones. According to a University of Texas survey,  81% of Floridians believe that climate change is happening now.  That’s even harder for a politician to ignore than the rising oceans.
Floridians have a good reason to be worried.  A report issued jointly by Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach Counties says that sea levels along the South Coast could rise by as much as six feet by 2100 unless carbon emissions are contained.  That’s about the height of Miami above sea level.  Much of South Florida is only three feet above sea level.  And even today, there are increasing problems of salt water intrusion and flooding. It’s heartening to see that Republicans in the Sunshine State are no longer trying to bury their heads in state’s ample array of sand beaches.  Maybe this is the start of a national trend.

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Reader Comments

6 Replies to “A Sea Change in Climate Politics”

  1. Prof. Farber, this is all well and good BUT, the reality is that we are not moving nearly fast enough to prevent life on earth from becoming unacceptable for our newest generations.

    It’s time to focus totally on solutions that must be implemented today and make them happen BUT, we only keep proving that we are fatally incompetent because, as evolutionary biologists and we keep proving, we are incapable of protecting our future.

    Does Legal Planet have a way to make the right things happen, because writing about our problems isn’t working?

    1. Dear Anthony,
      Don’t worry, there has been no significant rise in sea level, this is merely another exaggeration of commonly accepted climate propaganda and fear mongering. I grew up in south Florida and for years there has been a problem of soil subsidence due to withdrawal of groundwater which may cause some flooding and poor drainage conditions. Climate kooks have incorrectly blamed this problem on rising sea levels. There is nothing that Prof. Farber and Legal Planet can do to fix south Florida. The true objective of climate practitioners is the quest for funds to sustain their lazy, sloppy, fraudulent “scholarship.”

      1. BQRQ, thanks for proving that we must find better ways to motivate people to save our planet for our newest and all future generations.

        1. Anthony,
          How does anyone motivate people to save our planet when we are confronted by more imminent and personal threats such as terrorism, economic decline, moral decay, poverty, despair, crime and war?

          1. BQRQ, true, those are some of the horrendous problems we must solve as part of saving the planet, and they shall be made increasingly worse by global warming if we continue to ignore that fact of life today.

            Thus one of the gravest threats to the human race today is that we don’t have enough people who will solve and implement solutions as their highest priority.

            All of our institutions are failing to save the human race.

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About Dan

Dan Farber

Dan Farber has written and taught on environmental and constitutional law as well as about contracts, jurisprudence and legislation. Currently at Berkeley Law, he has al…

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