My third winter in Florida has practically come to a close. I’ve discovered all kinds of things about life in the Sunny State, most of which are not to my liking. Drivers, many of whom have no car insurance, switch lanes at 75 MPH without signaling. I think Florida drivers are worse than Boston drivers; this is nothing to be proud of. Furthermore, no emissions control inspections are required every year or two. I’ve been told that some Florida drivers will buy used tires at $29/pair rather than buy new Michelins for whatever they go for. They’re putting their lives at risk as well as other drivers on the road. Apparently, no emissions testing is not unique to Florida; it’s common in other “red states”. Emissions testing too is perceived as “regulatory”, and as such, is considered “bad”.
While I’m bingo-eligible, I don’t attend Bingo nights as I have other interests and hobbies. I’m a spry senior who occasionally walks with a cane, plans to get hearing aids soon, relies on Social Security and life savings to get by each month. I’m clearly eligible to play Bingo, but have no interest to do that just yet.
The blue skies and seventy five degree heat is still very welcome during the winter months, but other parts of Florida life are disturbing and downright deleterious to living.
Florida’s Governor Ron deSantis is very popular throughout the state, but his lack of action on issues like climate change are disturbing and dangerous for public health and quality of life. Florida’s approach to climate change is to politicize it as a “left wing” and/or “liberal” cause. Like inspections which are “bad”, climate change is characterized as “left wing” and thus “bad”. His approach is to make it worse in the state by doing nothing to reduce the root cause of the problem; emissions of greenhouse gasses. His administration prevents cities and towns to reduce emissions by making it unlawful to do so. His administration spends hundreds of millions of dollars on flood control, but none on the root cause: uncontrolled greenhouse gas emissions. That’s a little like allowing a person with lung cancer to continue smoking cigarettes after diagnosis of lung cancer.
Emissions from dirty power plants cause all kinds of health ailments like an increase in respiratory diseases, premature morbidity, increase in some cancers, declines in some lung function. It might be a sunny state but that’s not likely to be enjoyed by residents who can not easily breathe due to health ailments caused by breathing toxic gasses. I heard one Floridian woman side with the governor with glee saying “at least he’s doing something about climate change” (by spending money on flood control). Her comments remind me of George Carlin’s lament about Floridians: both the temperature and IQ of many of its residents are in the 80s.
Massachusetts has flooding as well, but flood control is not the only thing being addressed in Massachusetts in dealing with climate change. Legislation is being produced to change building codes so as to limit the amount of carbon in building materials so they don’t emit carbon. Efforts are underway to determine how to retrofit multifamily, multi-tiered housing in vulnerable communities to cur down on CO2 emissions and save money. Massachusetts is advancing climate action providing training for new well-paying jobs so communities can thrive in a green economy, and meet and exceed state wide goals to lower emissions. Massachusetts is moving ahead with solar and wind powered energy.
In 2020, The Miami Herald reported that Florida passed a law that forbid cities and towns from preventing them from not using anything but natural gas. Natural gas makes up about 70% of the state’s fuel at power plants, and is used in some homes for heating and cooking ss well. Many people think the law enacted by the de Santis administration was written by the natural gas lobby. The bill is doing exactly what the authors and gas industry interests intended: stopping cities from setting meaningful climate action in place. The question is whether Floridians will wake up and discover the truth of the climate change matter, breathe a sigh of relief and do something about their public health in the midst of climate change.