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DeSantis proposes adapting to climate change without 'doing any left-wing stuff'

·Senior Editor
·3 min read
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  • Climate Change
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Florida’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, unveiled a plan Tuesday for the state to begin addressing the effects of rising global temperatures.

Titled “Always Ready Florida,” the three-year plan would spend $270 million on more than 76 projects statewide to help deal with problems like coastal flooding, which numerous studies have shown has been made worse by rising global temperatures.

But DeSantis took pains to keep from framing the plan in terms of climate change mitigation.

“What I’ve found is when people start talking about things like global warming, they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. And so we’re not doing any left-wing stuff,” DeSantis said at a Tuesday news conference.

Belief in climate change and what to do about it remain dividing political issues. A Yahoo News poll in October found that 67 percent of Republicans believe that climate change is “not an emergency.” By contrast, 78 percent of Democrats and 45 percent of independents said that it was.

But much like aspects of President Biden’s Build Back Better and infrastructure plans, the money in DeSantis’s proposal would be spent hardening Florida’s coastal defenses from rising sea levels that the overwhelming majority of scientists have concluded are caused by climate change. To address the prospect of stronger hurricanes made possible by warmer oceans, the funds will go toward building stormwater pumps in coastal communities and burying utility cables. Funds would also be made available for the state to purchase flood-prone properties.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis stands at a microphone as he speaks at a press conference.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. (Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“We’re a low-lying state, we’re a storm-prone state and we’re a flood-prone state,” DeSantis said. “And so we worked with the Legislature to say, OK, how are we going to address this in a way that’s going to protect Florida’s communities, protect our economic livelihood and make sure we’re doing what we need to do.”

The plan must be approved by the Republican-controlled state Legislature, which failed to act on a similar measure brought forth by former Gov. Charlie Crist.

Projections for sea level rise from agencies such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that much of South Florida will be submerged in the coming decades as sea levels continue to rise. Cities like Miami Beach, meanwhile, have already begun spending hundreds of millions of dollars to install pumping stations and raise roadways to try to outrun the rising waters. But thanks to the sharply increasing rate of sea level rise and Florida’s porous limestone bedrock, experts say, those efforts ultimately won’t work.

“With sea levels rising at over a foot per decade, it’s over,” Harold Wanless, professor of geological sciences at the University of Miami, previously told Yahoo News.

Though some might characterize the spending as “left-wing stuff,” DeSantis acknowledged Tuesday that much more money would soon be needed to help protect Florida.

“This is just one part, there’s going to be a whole host of other projects announced in the near future with a lot more money,” DeSantis said. “You’re going to end up seeing well over a billion dollars in this over the next few years.”

A June report by Resilient Analytics and the Center for Climate Integrity concluded that Florida would likely face $76 billion in climate change costs by the year 2040, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

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