Until the Sunshine State gets with the program on climate change – a term they've banned from their official reports – should the rest of the country ignore that it’s even there?
Depending on where you grew up, you were taught to openly mock a neighboring state. My own personal motherland, Ohio, looked down on Indiana (those Hoosier-loving corn-eaters), while Indiana treated Kentucky like its punching bag (an easy target), and Kentucky dumped directly onto West Virginia’s cousin-loving head. But I think every state can join hands in their common disdain and ridicule for the Sunshine State, Florida.
If you grew up east of the Mississippi, it’s the bottom of your world. Sure, you may have vacationed there at some point (Disney World is the Mecca of the Midwest), or if your life took a turn for the lawless and you found yourself on the lam, where did you run? Why, Florida of course! I’ve always seen it as the United States’ Australia, a Mad Max-ian dystopia, where the spawn of generations of criminals hunt for their Oxy fix in bootleg Bart Simpson tank tops.
So when the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting published their investigation alleging that Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection – the agency who lists on its own website that it “protects, conserves, and manages Florida’s natural resources” – was banned from using the necessary (AND VERY REAL AND SCIENTIFICALLY ACCURATE) terms “climate change,” “global warming,” and “sustainability,” I wasn’t shocked. Disappointed, angered, slightly amused? Sure, but shocked? No. This is the home to the best episodes of Cops – documentary evidence that its entire population isn’t playing with a full deck of cards.
Politicians are adapting to the technology at hand, they’re deleting their browser histories and erasing incriminating emails. And if they’re going to deliberately put their own state’s environment in the crosshairs, they aren’t going to put it in ink, digital or otherwise.
The D.E.P. Press Secretary Tiffany Cowie can deny these reports all she wants, stating that her department “does not have a policy on this,” because Florida has half a brain in its sunbaked head and knows to not put something like this in writing. Just like you won’t find the smoking gun email in which Chris Christie told his office to close lanes on George Washington Bridge. Politicians are adapting to the technology at hand, they’re deleting their browser histories and erasing incriminating emails. And if they’re going to deliberately put their own state’s environment in the crosshairs, they aren’t going to put it in ink, digital or otherwise.
Now let’s take a moment to consider the (VERY REAL) reality of those banned terms. When a collective of scientists examined 4,014 abstracts on climate change, they “found 97.2 percent of the papers assume humans play a role in global warming.” That’s higher than the 9 out of 10 dentists who agree you should be brushing your teeth every day (that tenth dentist bankrolls his practice off your bad hygiene)!
On top of this, a poll from January 2015 found that a majority of Republicans believe we need to do something about climate change – “83 percent of Americans, including 61 percent of Republicans and 86 percent of independents, say that if nothing is done to reduce emissions, global warming will be a very or somewhat serious problem in the future.” Although I find it absolutely ridiculous that we need to poll people on scientific fact, AT LEAST they can mostly agree that we’re damned if we don’t change our lowdown pollutin’ ways.
And then there’s Florida. So now comes our important question… if they won’t take science into account, what do we do with the Sunshine State? You obviously can’t teach them anything as evidenced by the five climate change scientists, who sat down with the “not convinced” in climate change Governor Rick Scott to try to open his eyes to the truth, but left “unsure that the governor had gotten the message.”
Scare tactics won’t work since those five scientists were clearly armed with alarming facts stating that by 2030, sea level rise is more than doubling the risk of storm surge and that since 1870, global sea levels have risen eight inches, while “in Southeast Florida, sea levels have risen 12 inches.” Now if I lived in a state that was almost entirely surrounded on all sides by water, I’d be sweating these facts (unless, of course, I was a big fan of The Little Mermaid and wanted to live down where "it's bettah, down where it’s wettah, undah the sea.”)
Here’s what I propose: much like the U.S. did to Florida’s neighbor to the South, Cuba, we turn our backs on the state and pretend like they just aren’t there, until they get with the damn program! In my opinion, climate change denial is a whole helluva lot more destructive than communism ever was, so this embargo would be more than justified.
We’d lose Kennedy Space Center, but Houston was always the favorite (“Cape Canaveral, we have a problem” doesn’t roll off the tongue just right). And if you look at this photo essay from Wired, you’ll see that the whole place is in decline.
We’d also lose Disney World and the $67 billion tourism industry that Florida boasts, but we have the O.G. Disneyland right here in California, so would anyone really even notice its absence? Don’t even get me started on Epcot – that place is an educational bummerfest! And how many of those billions do we spend on rebuilding the state after each of its devastating hurricanes (hurricanes that only will get worse with every inch of sea level rise)?
We may miss out on the next Tom Petty or Lynyrd Skynyrd, but they weren’t famous, until they got the hell out of Florida and never looked back. Petty’s best songs are about California, and Skynyrd put Alabama on the map (after all that awful segregation stuff, of course). Plus, we may be able to prevent the next Carrot Top from happening!
So let’s be strong, join our hands in togetherness to say, “Fuck off, Florida.” At least until they start listening to science. Or the whole state disappears into the ocean, while their politicians desperately search for the cause that they've already banned from their own reports.
Watch Jesse Ventura take on the state of Florida in this Off The Grid episode:
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