A Gainesville Sun editorial on Sen. Marco Rubio and climate:
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is calling on Floridians to confront the challenge of climate change but downplaying the problem as manageable.
"Americans, particularly Floridians, are right to be concerned about the changing climate," Rubio wrote in a USA Today column. "But they are also right to be concerned about a regressive overreaction."
Rubio only needs to look around the state he represents to see how climate change is already causing problems for the environment, the economy and public health, which will only worsen unless aggressive measures are taken.
Wildlife is already on the move from its historical breeding grounds in the state due to climate change, according to a new study co-authored by a University of Florida researcher.
Given Florida's reliance on tourism the effects of climate change on the state's coasts and waterways is even more worrisome; flesh-eating bacteria has been a growing problem, especially in the unusually warm Gulf of Mexico.
Warmer weather and increasing rainfall due to a changing climate also mean longer lasting and more widespread algae blooms. Algae blooms were recently found in 44 percent of water bodies tested by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, a problem fueled by runoff from agricultural operations and other sources of fertilizer and waste.
Agriculture is also being affected in other ways by climate change. A lack of freezes allows insect pests to flourish, while warmer waters combined with changing salinity and sea levels pose problems for oyster harvesting in areas such as Cedar Key.
Rubio acknowledged in the USA Today column that Florida is also likely to see increasing sunny-day flooding and other consequences of sea level rise. But he suggested that "adaptive solutions" will be enough to limit the impact.
Certainly having Rubio highlight the need to address climate change represents progress given that his fellow Republicans too often deny the problem even exists.
The term "climate change" wasn't even allowed to be used in the administration of former Gov. Rick Scott, now the state's other U.S. senator.
Gov. Ron DeSantis, in contrast, named Julia Nesheiwat as the state's first chief resilience officer. She told the Tampa Bay Times that climate change will likely cause the need for new restrictions on building in flood-prone areas.
While Rubio is right that innovative ideas are required to address climate change, he rejects a carbon tax or the Green New Deal as possible solutions.
But climate experts have warned that significant reductions in carbon emissions are necessary to avoid the worst impacts of a warming planet.
Climate change will require Floridians to adapt, but we shouldn't shy away from taking bold actions to reduce the impact on the economy, the environment and our health.
The Times-Union Editorial Board comments: Extreme weather events are becoming more common across the nation with wildfires, floods, droughts and record-breaking hurricanes. The evidence is too great for doubting Thomases to ignore.
Hurricanes are breaking records for flooding. Hurricane Irma covered nearly the entire state. Hurricane Michael attacked with a vengeance.
Video of flooding on sunny days will make your jaw drop. But that’s Florida today. Surely Rubio, from Miami, is aware of that.
There are solutions that won’t harm the economy, like a revenue-neutral carbon tax with a rebate to citizens.
The Northeast Florida Regional Council has embraced a risk management approach for dealing with flooding and sea level rise. That's the smart way to go.
Flooding risks, for instance, may require mitigation like raising houses or evacuation when flooding is too frequent to justify the cost of rebuilding.
We will be living with a new age of climate disruption. It’s about time our leaders accepted that fact.