Friday, January 31, 2014

Florida Vs. New York on Climate Change Policy

Activists in Miami protesting the lack of solid climate
change policy in Florida and the nation. Click for 'photo credit.
I've been doing some heavy reading to update my understanding of policy on climate change in Florida and New York for comparative purposes in teaching.  A brief summary of my findings is that very very little is being done in Florida while a great deal is being done in New York.

Let me summarize.  First Florida.  Under the previous governor of the state, Charlie Crist, Florida was moving in a positive direction on trying to understand how to improve state climate change policy.  Greenhouse gas inventories were conducted and the state charged a new department to manage climate change and energy issues.  This was similar to what other states, including large ones like California, were doing at the time.   This made a great deal of sense since Florida is incredibly vulnerable to subtle shifts in sea level.

When the current governor was elected, all of the climate change policy was dismantled.  The Governor famously said that he doesn't believe that climate is influenced by people and has sided with the climate change denial crowd.  He charged the Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Adam Putnam, to manage the state's alternative energy programs which have not done very well in recent years.  I wrote about this here.  In addition, I couldn't find a public statement by the Secretary about his thoughts about climate change or climate change policy.

I did a search for any updated information about climate change policy on Florida's Department of Environmental Protection or Department of Agriculture sites and there isn't anything.  Go look for yourself.  The Department of Environmental Protection Page is here and the Department of Agriculture Webpage is here.  As an aside, as of this writing, the main topic on the Department of Agriculture (!) site is on Concealed Weapons Permits.

Based on my reading, very little has been going on in the state lately.  I've also spoken with many who work in state government and those who do contract work in the state.  According to them, there is an unspoken rule that the state cannot officially have anything in print in support of the science of climate change.

Climate change denialism is quickly fading as an accepted position.  Take a look at this poll of Republicans.  Most believe it is happening.  The national poll of all Americans shows even more understand what is going on with climate change.  Florida's official position on climate change seems about as fresh as an episode of The Golden Girls.

In contrast, just open this Website from the State of New York.


Rockyrivers said...

I appreciate this blog Bob. Thanks for bringing attention to these important differences.

Anonymous said...

I can certainly understand the frustration that Florida state government is sliding backwards in climate change efforts, but there actually is a lot going on regionally. Just take a look at the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact:
These regional efforts shouldn't be overlooked just because the state is falling down on the job! You can see similar uphill battles in states like North Carolina, but there are people on the ground there still pushing for that message to break through and to help those already being affected!

Bob Brinkmann said...

Thanks for the comments and the link!