Florida residents have faced record heat waves in recent weeks as high temperatures hover in the 90s and the humidity makes it seem like temperatures have climbed into the triple digits.
During these scorching days, outdoor workers are at risk of heat-related health problems. Water levels off the coast of Florida have also hit record highs, threatening the survival of coral reefs and the marine life they support.
These conditions, in addition to hurricanes and threats to sea levels, heighten concerns about the dangers of climate change. Despite all this, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently withdrew money from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act.
DeSantis has lost sight of the lives and livelihoods of his constituents by rushing to forgo money that would help cover the costs of climate change. It can be assumed that he wants to be able to claim that he does not take money from Joe Biden during his presidential campaign.
However, these funds are not “from Biden.” Both Congresses approved these laws in the usual way. Citizens – DeSantis voters – will benefit from these funds.
In Gainesville, I run into transplants from South Florida all the time. They are so concerned about our changing climate and the “invasion of the seas” that they have sold their homes and abandoned the communities in which they have been rooted for generations. More and more houses are being built in the area, more and more people are moving to where they can put down new roots.
The Inflation Reduction Act has been touted as the most comprehensive approach to addressing climate change in any country. It provides the means to transition to an electric society and also reduces fossil fuel emissions.
The law provides for the allocation of 369 billion dollars to address the problems of energy security and the fight against climate change. Floridians will benefit from these funds as we try to reduce our carbon use.
This law supports a 40% reduction in emissions from 2005 levels by 2030. We will be on our way to meeting our commitments under the Paris Agreement.
Taxpayers can still receive discounts and tax deductions on the purchase of many household appliances and energy-efficient apartments. However, much more would happen if our government recognized that we need to use solar energy. We point to our sun when we need tourists. We must also recognize that the sun can be the answer to clean energy.
The participation of the state is necessary. The Climate Reality Project notes that governors and state energy departments can accelerate the development of clean energy. The state can support and invest in the creation of new jobs in the field of clean energy. Through government action and support, government agencies and private businesses will work together to accelerate decarbonization even faster.
The money DeSantis refuses can make our networks stronger. We saw what happened in Texas when its power grid went down during an ice storm. We have witnessed the success of Babcock Ranch, a solar-powered town that, despite its proximity to Fort Myers, did not lose its power during Hurricane Yan.
After Yang, the federal government gave Florida $5.5 billion to rebuild. DeSantis didn’t mind this. Thus, federal funds are sometimes acceptable, but not others. What is the difference?
DeSantis puts his image above all else. Despite our state’s vulnerability to climate damage, despite the financial and medical needs of Florida residents, DeSantis thinks Republicans would like him better if he forgoes federal government money.
But he already mistook it for Hurricane Yang. Thus, he is forgoing not federal funds, but money meant to address the major shocks and potential catastrophe that his state is facing.
Susan Nugent is the Project Manager for the Climate Reality Project in Gainesville. This opinion piece was originally published by The Invading Sea (www.theinvadingsea.com), a website that provides news and commentary on climate change and other environmental issues affecting Florida.