Year 2, Month 6, Day 13: The Florida Land Bust

The Saint Petersburg Times has an excellent editorial citing Chicago’s greening programs as worthwhile models for Floridian cities. Governor Rick Scott, of course, is a typical denialist (and a crook, too!). Poor Florida — soon to be submerged:

As the New York Times recently reported, in 2006 then-Mayor Richard M. Daley embraced climatologist predictions the city was warming at such an alarming pace that by the end of this century Chicago could be facing as many as 72 days a year with temperatures in the 90s, along with increasing precipitation. So Chicago has embarked on a massive green initiative with increased tree plantings, environmentally sensitive building efforts and improved reclaimed water systems. And what of Florida, perhaps the most ecologically sensitive state in the union? For starters, there is Gov. Rick Scott, who doesn’t believe — despite proof to the contrary from the scientific community — that global warming even exists. As sea levels have risen, Tallahassee continues to whistle past the environmental graveyard, abolishing the Florida Energy and Climate Commission and even attempting to repeal the Florida Climate Protection Act on the dubious and misinformed logic it is no longer needed. While Chicago acknowledges global warming and develops forward-thinking strategies, Florida’s leaders ignore scientific reality even as the seas slowly and steadily erode the peninsula.

Good stuff. It’s always enjoyable to mock the twisted thinking of denialists. Too bad they’re for real. Sent May 30:

As the evidence for global climate change piles up ever higher, it would seem that conservative “skeptics” would eventually be won over to the side of science-based policy. To be sure, this does happen occasionally. But in general, this is not the way the denialist mind works. If past history is any guide, a far more likely response will be intensified advocacy of increasingly improbable and complex conspiracy theories. Al Gore heading an international cabal of climate scientists? Check. IPCC Director Rajendra Pachauri secretly planning a One-World Government, complete with mandatory re-education camps for SUV drivers? Check. The ninety-seven percent of the world’s climate experts who agree on the human causes of global warming and the terrifying threats it poses are, in the denialist mind, more likely to be avaricious hypocrites out to make a quick buck than conscientious scientists reporting their findings to the world. Projection, anyone?

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 2: How Many Times Must A Man Turn His Head?

The Miami Herald runs a piece on how climate change has become a low priority for Florida’s government since the Scott takeover. Big surprise.

Four hundred scientists gathered in Copenhagen recently to talk about the warming temperatures in the Arctic. Their conclusion: The Arctic’s glaciers are melting faster than anyone expected due to man-made climate change.

As a result, the world’s sea level will rise faster than previously projected, rising at least two feet 11 inches and perhaps as high as five feet three inches by 2100, they said.

In low-lying Florida, where 95 percent of the population lives within 35 miles of its 1,200 miles of coastline, a swelling of the tides could cause serious problems. So what is Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection doing about dealing with climate change?

“DEP is not pursuing any programs or projects regarding climate change,” an agency spokeswoman said in an email to the Times earlier this month.


Crist’s successor, Gov. Rick Scott, doesn’t think climate change is real, even though it’s accepted as fact by everyone from NASA to the Army to the Vatican.

“I’ve not been convinced that there’s any man-made climate change,” Scott said last week. “Nothing’s convinced me that there is.”

That guy is really a pustulent sore on the body politic. Sent May 21:

When Governor Scott pronounces himself unpersuaded about the reality of global climate change, saying that nothing’s convinced him of its existence, he reveals more about himself and the contemporary Republican party he represents than about the state of contemporary climate science. In the world of science, nobody needs convincing anymore; evidence for the human causes and catastrophic consequences of climate change is overwhelming and utterly unambiguous. In GOP-world, however, the laws of physics and natural phenomena are subordinate to popular preference; the disasters attendant to the greenhouse effect will be nullified by tea-party decree. Why isn’t Mr. Scott convinced? Hint: it’s not because he’s examined the evidence. Rather, it’s because he (along with his ideological allies throughout the country) is philosophically opposed to any policy that doesn’t generate higher profit margins for the fossil fuel industry. The Governor’s already made up his mind; don’t confuse him with the facts.

Warren Senders

Year 1, Month 1, Day 12: NPR Hears From Me

Driving home today, I switched back and forth between NPR and the Thom Hartmann show on Boston’s progressive AM station (for which FSM be thanked!). NPR News ran a story on freezing weather in Florida, focusing on the damage citrus groves were taking from ice and snow, and mentioning that virtually the entire tropical fish supply of North America was jeapordized by the extreme cold (I never thought about thousands upon thousands of goldfish being raised in outdoor tanks in Florida, for sale to households across the nation, but there you are).

Naturally, the NPR announcers didn’t say a thing about the role that global climate change has in freak weather events like this. So after I finished teaching this evening, I went to the NPR ombudsperson’s page and submitted the following:

Fruit Freezes in Florida…

… and I heard the story on NPR News this evening.

While I found the story of potentially frozen citrus groves and iced tropical fish farms interesting, I was saddened (although not surprised, alas) that NPR did not do analysis of this story in light of the unfolding crisis of global climate change. A story like this one is a perfect vehicle to illuminate the fact that increased temperatures in some parts of the world can trigger freak weather (including unreasonable and unseasonable cold) in others.

Polls have shown that a significant proportion of Americans don’t believe that global warming is happening at all, or don’t believe that it is due to human agency. The current spell of extreme cold will inevitably trigger more statements along the lines of, “Global warming? Ha! Ha! Can’t you see it’s snowing outside!”

It is the responsibility of a news organization to help its audience figure out what the news means. The story of frozen fruit and fish in the American South would have been a perfect opportunity for NPR to do exactly that: teach its listeners a little bit about the difference between weather and climate, and why a warming planet can cause icicles in orange groves.

The future of the human species hangs on developing our ability to make sense of phenomena outside our accustomed scales of time and magnitude. The climate crisis is a perfect example; it is increasingly likely that our distractability and ignorance will prevent our taking meaningful action until it is too late to make a difference.

By failing to see this story for what it really is, NPR is enabling those who seek to deny the reality of our ongoing climaticide.

Warren Senders

If any of you happen to hear them reading this on the air, please let me know!