Florida’s new Governor Rick Scott has taken a wrecking ball to many environmental and social programs in Florida. And now he’s got efforts to fight climate change in the cross hairs, repealing climate change programs and dismantling relevant committees and agency departments established by former Governor Charlie Crist.
This is distressing news for the low-lying Sunshine State. According to a report put out by the Endangered Species Coalition, the Greater Everglades region is one place where action to address the impacts of climate change is critical. With projected rises in sea level of three feet or more over the next century, much of the low-lying Everglades ecoregion is at risk of being submerged under water. For iconic Florida species like the panther, whose diminished population already struggles with increased development and habitat loss, such an impact could prove devastating. And it isn’t only the state’s wildlife that’s in trouble – 95 percent of Florida’s population lives within 35 miles of its 1,200 miles of coastline.
In fact, Florida has already seen the impacts of sea level rise: roughly 9 inches in the past 75 years, with an acceleration in the rate of rise in the past decade, according to a report from Florida Atlantic University. Changes to natural habitats are already visible. On Big Pine Key, for instance, what used to be a pine forest has turned into a tidal marsh. Apparently, this hasn’t made an impact on the governor.
“I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change,” Scott said in May. “Nothing’s convinced me that there is.”
Hopefully Gov. Scott and the folks in Tallahassee have enough life rafts to go around.