By signing bill deleting climate change from FL law, DeSantis shows he’s living in denial

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Gov. Ron DeSantis signs the bill to delete most references to climate change from state law, via his X account.

Quality Journalism for Critical Times

Gov. Ron DeSantis is an addict. Not to drugs, but to fossil fuels. He’s showing all the signs, but nobody has had the guts to call it what it is.

You doubt me? Look at what he did last week.

DeSantis signed a bill that deletes most of the mentions of climate change from state law. He did this even as most of South Florida faced record high temperatures.

“The heat index rose as high as 109 degrees Fahrenheit in Fort Lauderdale, 107 degrees in Hollywood and Kendall, 105 degrees in Key West and Opa-locka, and 104 degrees in Miami,” WSVN-TV reported.

If this is what May feels like, can you imagine how sweltering our summer months will be? We’ll step outdoors and immediately turn into big puddles (which will probably breed lots of mosquitoes).

This heat wave is no fluke, either. The Florida Climate Center’s most recent report notes: “Florida has had a record warm start to the year so far. The year-to-date (January-May) statewide average temperature for Florida ranks as the warmest on record.”

Their report for last year said much the same: “Many stations in Florida recorded a record hot year in 2023 based on annual average temperatures. These stations include Pensacola, Daytona Beach, Tampa, Orlando, Venice, Punta Gorda, Fort Myers, Naples, Miami, and Key West.”

This isn’t some wild-eyed bunch of tree-huggers waving a warning flag. The Florida Climate Center is an arm of state government — one the governor apparently never consults.

DeSantis signed this kooky bill “in spite of the fact that the state of Florida over the last couple of years has seen record heat, record flooding, record rain, and record insurance rates, and the corals are dying all around the state,” said WTVJ-TV meteorologist Steve McLaughlin.

Why would he do something that made him a target of mockery across the nation? He couldn’t help himself. He’s in the grip of an addiction where the higher the octane, the higher he feels.

Clearly, our poor governor is in a state of denial, refusing to accept that there’s a problem. Unless we convince him somehow, the situation will only get worse.

Delusional infestation

You can tell DeSantis isn’t thinking straight if you read the bill he signed. It contains so much nonsense, the sponsors could’ve been sued for copyright infringement by the estate of Dr. Seuss.

I mean, it bans windmills from being built off Florida’s coastline. Windmills! There are no windmills being planned now or in the future for Florida’s coastline. Our breezes are like our politicians — too balmy to be reliable.

You might as well ban Star-Bellied Sneeches or keeping wockets in your pockets. It has the exact same impact on people’s lives.

When he signed the bill, DeSantis boasted in a post on X (formerly Twitter), “We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots.” I bet his office sound system was blaring Bruce Springsteen’s “Pink Cadillac” or Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” while he added his addled John Hancock.

Sanity? What sanity? Folks, the “radical green zealots” who put that language in the law in the late 2000s were his fellow Republicans. They weren’t wearing tie-dyed shirts and sandals. They had on blue blazers, rep ties, and tassel loafers.

They could see that rising seas and temperatures were becoming a serious threat. That’s why they wrote laws that said the state would set up policies for dealing with it. They set goals to cut the use of fossil fuels in Florida and encourage clean alternatives like solar.

Polls showed that it was popular with voters from both parties and no party at all.

How could DeSantis misidentify fellow Republicans like that? Simple. According to the National Library of Medicine, some addictions “might induce delusional infestation.”

I think you’d have to be delusional to decide that only “radical green zealots” would care enough about climate change to try to stop it or slow it down.

The consequences have only grown worse for Florida in the nearly 20 years since the Legislature first tackled the issue.

“Out in the real world, citizens are dealing with devastating impacts as our climate heats up and gets more volatile,” said Bradley Marshall, who works on climate for the Florida office of Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm. “Heat is killing our reefs, our creatures, and even our citizens. State leaders should be doing all they can to protect and prepare us.”

Protect? Nope, can’t do that either. DeSantis also signed into law the bill that blocks local governments from imposing any requirements on businesses to protect outdoor workers from extreme heat.

DeSantis is so ensnared in his petroleum-fueled delusions that he’s rejected millions of dollars in federal money for coming up with a climate action plan. He prefers to stick to a climate INaction plan, despite how it’s hurting Floridians.

Heat, sea-level rise, and water stress

Last month, a website called Insurify did a survey of “The 10 Worst Cities to Live in as Climate Change Progresses.” Five of the top 10 were Florida cities. None was a surprise.

The top four were Cape Coral, Palm Bay, Miami, and North Port. Then, down at No. 8, there was Tampa.

“Coastal Florida cities have seen insurance rates skyrocket as insurers struggle to pay claims from costly climate catastrophes,” Insurify reported in the listing for the verrrry low-lying city of Cape Coral.

The “climate catastrophes” they’re talking about are, of course, all the hurricanes whose intensity was fueled by the extreme heat of the waters they passed over before making landfall.

“Average annual home insurance rates in Cape Coral exceed $10,000 compared to the U.S. average of $2,899,” the report noted. “Cape Coral has the second-highest chronic physical risk from the effects of climate change.” Those include “heat, sea-level rise, and water stress (when the water demand exceeds availability).”

I talked to Jessica Edmondson of Insurify, which compares and sells auto and home insurance. She told me they weren’t happy to deliver such bad tidings for so much of Florida.

“It’s a highly desirable place to live,” she said, noting the lack of a state income tax and weather that’s often on the pleasant side. However, she pointed out, “insurance companies are leaving the state because there’s too much risk.”

This is affecting more than just the folks in those cities, by the way. This week The New York Post reported that hundreds of nursing homes in Florida have been forced to shut their doors over the past five years because of the soaring cost of commercial property insurance.

Sorry, Grandma, the governor says we can’t do anything to help you!

An inept imitation of an ostrich

One of the people I called about this new law against old laws was Michael Gerrard, a Columbia Law School professor who founded the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law.

When I asked him what he thought about this legislation, he called it “an inept imitation of an ostrich, except here the sand will be washed away and the ostrich will be under water.”

The only similar example of such ostrich-like legislation that he could recall was a bill passed by the North Carolina Legislature in 2012. It blocked state agencies from considering the latest science of sea level rise in making planning decisions.

“The law was drafted in response to an estimate by the state’s Coastal Resources Commission … that the sea level will rise by 39 inches in the next century, prompting fears of costlier home insurance and accusations of anti-development alarmism among residents and developers in the state’s coastal Outer Banks region,” ABC News reported at the time.

People nationwide mocked this approach to the problem.

“If your science gives you a result you don’t like,” Stephen Colbert said, “pass a law saying the result is illegal. Problem solved.” Sound familiar?

Turns out the people pushing the anti-science law were developers of coastal property. They were worried about the financial impact of any limits on coastal development.

Heaven forbid we try to keep people from building their homes in places where they’re likely to be flooded or swept away. Not that OUR developers would ever do such a thing.

You’ll never guess what scientists announced last year.

“New research reinforces what scientists and others have been warning about the ocean along the North Carolina coast: The sea is rising faster than in most other parts of the United States, and faster than what most scientists had expected,” the Wilmington Star reported.

The lesson of this, one that oil-crazed DeSantis has ignored, is simply put.

“You’re not going to keep the waves off the beach by taking the words out of the documents,” said Stephen Smith of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Climate change is real

When he first ran for governor, the Dunedin Denialist kept saying he was “not a global warming person.

It was a variation on the evasion used by then-Gov. Rick “I Wear This Navy Hat Because When My State Is Inundated, I’ll Make My Getaway On a Yacht” Scott: “I’m not a scientist.” (When scientists showed up to talk to him, he hustled them out of his office in less than 30 minutes.)

However, last year, during his DeSastrous presidential campaign (emphasis on the “pain” part), DeSantis acknowledged that climate change is real. That was a good first step toward acknowledging his addiction.

But then he said the solution is to burn MORE fossil fuels, not less.

I repeatedly asked DeSantis’ press office what he thinks the state should be doing about this thing that he’s admitted is happening, but I received no response. Perhaps his aides were too busy drafting new legislation to block Florida meteorologists from expressing their opinions while on the air.

They’re enabling him. I think we who have recognized his symptoms should stage an intervention. The question is where.

The next meeting of the governor and Cabinet is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 11 in the Capitol in Tallahassee. I say everyone who cares about how badly he’s hooked on this deadly drug should show up there.

Together maybe we can make him face up to what he’s doing to himself — and to all of us as well.

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