Florida is crazy about resiliency. The word is everywhere, because hurricanes, rising seas, erosion, disappearing beaches and downtowns flooding on sunny days are everywhere. The elected need to look like they’re doing something about it. So here comes resiliency. It’s got toughness, machismo, lilt. The syllables surf off the tongue with just enough self-importance for a word coined in mid-17th century England that our right honorable Gov. DeSantis thinks it’ll power Florida through the catastrophes of the 21st. He’s plastering the word everywhere like wonder whitewash.
Except that resiliency in Florida is a crock. The state is throwing millions, soon to be billions, at the consequences of global warming. It’s not doing a damn thing about its part in causing global warming. Until then, the state is as good as complicit in its coastal communities’ destruction–maliciously so, because this isn’t mere negligence. It’s active, vindictive denialism. The language of climate change–like so much else in this administration–is censored from all DeSantis playbooks.
Lawmakers and most local governments, certainly in Flagler, self-censor along, to not upset the money spigot. Paul Renner, Flagler County’s own representative and the Speaker of the House, is on the warpath against corporations foolish enough to be socially responsible. He attacks them for “favoring investment in green energy over fossil fuels” (his words).
Florida’s role in warming the planet isn;t small. It is the nation’s fourth largest economy. If it were its own country, it would be the 15th largest economy in the world, just ahead of Mexico and just behind Spain. It also spews more greenhouse gasses than 80 percent of the planet’s countries. Its answer to that? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s replacing–and preventing–actively combating global warming with the fraud of resiliency.
Ironically, the word has often been used to describe the resiliency of ecosystems, of the Amazon forest, of oceans, or the ozone layer in the face of human destruction. Give nature a chance, help it along just a bit (as we somehow managed to do with the ozone layer), go easier on greenhouse emissions, and it’ll reward you tenfold. That’s natural resiliency.
Florida hijacked the word, branding it on precisely the human factors that exploit and damage nature and exacerbate warming: concrete, overdevelopment, rebuilding fatter and meaner along the shore and in flood plains, and of course contempt for anything that might help nature along. In Florida, you not only don’t say gay. You don’t say climate change.
In the wake of hurricanes Ian and Nicole, when DeSantis used the shredded coastline in Flagler as a campaign backdrop, he and Kevin Guthrie, the state’s emergency management director, were asked about any lessons learned by the catastrophes. They sounded like Biden administration ambassadors: build back better. That was their message. Amend coastal building code regulations? Flood plain regulations? Discourage building a (vanished) dune’s length from shore? Never. That would be un-American. Keep building. Higher. Bigger. Fatter. Resilience.
Three days ago an article ran in these pages with this opening paragraph: “California is embarking on an audacious new climate plan that aims to eliminate the state’s greenhouse gas footprint by 2045, and in the process, slash emissions far beyond its borders. The blueprint calls for massive transformations in industry, energy and transportation, as well as changes in institutions and human behaviors.” The article, by a Californian deeply involved in the effort, goes on to note that what California does, many states and countries emulate, for the better.
Naturally, the response by some was to pull the ideological parroting of neo-fascist media and deflect to California’s homeless, migrant and housing crises, because we must always be sure never to imagine that another state, a blue one at that, could be doing better that affects us directly: if sea levels are to rise a smidge slower in the next half century, we’ll have Sacramento to thank, not Tallahassee.
What are we doing in Florida? We’re policing the speech of teachers and professors. We’re banning books. We’re sanitizing history. We’re obsessing about drag queens. We have a governor more intent on turning the clock back to 1950 Florida than he is concerned about how close the ocean will be to our homes by 2050.
Meanwhile we have scenes like we had last week in Flagler Beach, with the Department of Transportation showing how we’ll once again rebuild and strengthen A1A. We have the Army Corps of Engineers waiting for a fifth year to rebuild a couple of miles of what used to be a beach in Flagler Beach. We have Flagler County government yet again rebuilding dunes at the north end of the county, four years after dumping $20 million in an identical effort that washed out to sea. All great and needed efforts, even as all of them toadying the same talking points about resiliency. But without the state doing its part to tackle the crisis at its root, to combine resiliency with a war on greenhouse gasses, Florida is only waging a war against its own.
That’s why resiliency in Florida is at best an illusion, and at worst a suicide pact between state and local governments. It’s borrowed time, wasted money and a scam on a catastrophic scale, because the state is in denial about an existential fact: seas are rising, and nothing but collective action by the planet’s biggest polluters, Florida among them, can hope to slow the calamity. Instead, DeSantis’s triumphalist Florida thinks it can build, burn and ignore its way out of it. The fraud is nothing but catastrophes deferred.
Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.
The dude says
There’s nothing especially “resilient” about this state. 80% of the people who live here are incapable of mowing their own lawns, cleaning their gutters or washing their cars.
The illusion of “resiliency” comes from the constant insurance and federal dollars pouring down like rain on this state. With each disaster washing out more of the poors and whisking in more of the cash buyers and investors to begin the cycle anew.
But still little changes, except the flow of other people’s dollars. Now THAT’S truly resilient.
Want to make a million bucks? Invent a battery powered exercise machine that does all the work for you! Try not to feel that you are suffering if the temperature in your house isn’t perfectly comfortable within a degree, to live without the expectation of total convenience, maybe cut back on extravagance, frivolous conspicuous consumption. It’s up to everybody, not just a Republican or Democratic government. You’re not “saving the planet”, you’re saving yourselves.
Michael Cocchiola says
Sorry, DeSantis. Far too many of us are “woke” in its broadest definition. We recognize global climate change when we see it. It is not resilient. It is global climate change.
If you want to catch up to 21st Century science, go look at Florida’s coastal communities. Go look at the steady and relentless flooding of streets. Go count the tropical storms and hurricanes and see the mounting violence and cost to lives and property. Go ask Floridians about the cost of homeowner’s insurance.
It’s GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE, you twit!
Timothy Patrick Welch says
China is the main produce of green house gases and other water and air pollution.
Historically the US (pre-EPA) has been the major contributor.
The Earth continues to change with periods of cooling and warming. The axis continues to shift and the earth core speed changes. Wild fires are a major contributor exacerbated by poor water management in the Western states. Surely the solution is not to pay third-world countries with fiat currency. Direct handouts create a dependency that enables control and loss of identity.
Solutions like makings all areas more bikeable and walkable rather more drivable, relaxing e-bike usage, taxing private jet usage, treating capital gains as regular taxable income, imposing import tariffs based on EPA standards, and sharing advances in clean tech should be considered
Sea level changes are measure in mm. Destruction of the coast line is due primarily to human interaction and poor building practices.
Bill C says
As of 2022, the top exports of the United States are Refined Petroleum ($58.4B), Crude Petroleum ($52.3B), Cars ($47.6B), Integrated Circuits ($44.2B), and Petroleum Gas ($34.7B). China is the top exporter of goods to the United States (452 B), followed by Mexico (358 B). The United States has merely exported much of its manufacturing, and associated pollution to other countries in the chase for cheaper manufacturing costs.
In my opinion, the #1 cause of most of the world’s problems is overpopulation.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
China is the major user and importer of Coal, with unchecked ocean dumping, limited environmental and human rights considerations. Their government continues to encourage stealing of innovation and process secrets. Their government continues to conduct cyber attacks against our country, They currently have operatives in schools and secret prisons within our borders. The FBI considers them our enemy. Why remove import tariffs?
Population growth is the only thing keeping countries with fiat currencies stable, without growth world calamity follows.
China is a country will few regulations, and communist and happy to take the U.S.’s money and jobs to enrich themselves. Republicans in Congress and the White House were more than happy to ship our jobs to a unregulated, poorer country in 2001. Look where they are now and where we are now.
I’ve been watching climate change happen since the late 1970s, when in December in Alabama we had a very, very rare 60 degree day. Now everywhere that is the norm. And people born after 1960 have really no idea what normal weather truly is. Flagler County is going to have to move A1A within the next 10-20 years because of climate change and the next few hurricanes that WILL hit us. Those homes across A1A will become beachfront property. Take a look at OLD A1A near Mantanzas and Marineland. It’s coming.
DeSantis refuses to allow state employee pensions to invest in green technologies that would HELP save his state over the coming decades. Vote for saving Florida, people, not for destroying our wonderful state!
Sadly, Pierre, this is nothing new. I’ve seen it all my life. Florida has been raped and plundered since Flagler got his railroad to the Keys.
My husband and I both grew up in Ft. Lauderdale, which was a somewhat big city, but a nice one. Our families parked our cars right on A1A, and we sat on the hoods to watch the Fourth of July fireworks over the ocean. Back then, I remember the “Be a friendly Floridian” jingle on TV, promoting tourism. The “Where the Boys Are” movie introduced a whole generation to the area, and they moved down in droves. Build, build, build. Consume, consume, consume, litter, litter, litter. I remember land crabs migrating in droves across the streets. I tried to rescue baby turtles getting crushed on A1A. There wasn’t a time in my life when the roads down there were not under construction. Now most of the orange groves are gone and have become subdivisions. There’s nowhere else to build, so the buildings continue to go skyward.
Hubby and I moved up here in hopes of finding the old charm we knew so well. Instead, we’re watching the same old thing all over again. Endless subdivisions, clear cutting acres, cookie cutter businesses. No education here at all about water quality, which at least south Florida has.
It’s the all about the dollar. It’s the developers and the Chamber of Commerce telling us the same old lies about how it will bring jobs (and people from elsewhere to land them) and wealth and the benefit to us all. It’s elected officials who pretend to care, all the while lining their pockets. They don’t give a damn about Florida, pollution, about quality of life, about quality of wildlife and preservation of land. It’s about twenty five new storage buildings with massive impervious areas. Money, money, money. That’s all Florida is to these people.
It will end someday.
It’s a kick the polluted can down the road, and somehow, they think it will not effect their own children and grandchildren. It’s all about the dollar, and has been since Julia Tuttle sent the first orange blossom to Henry Flagler. To expect anything else is to be disappointed, over and over again.
Willy Boy says
Yours truly born in St. Pete, raised in Clermont. Remember the orange groves before Mickey Mouse, races on the beach before the Speedway. Occasionally, Mother Nature wipes clean a portion of the slate (Andrew, Ian), other than that Progress (sic) is as relentless as one of H. Flagler’s locomotives. This sad and nostalgic Boomer feels blessed to have experienced the changes.
Timothy Patrick Welch says
Deborah Coffey says
It will end sooner rather than later, Laurel. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/apr/21/florida-climate-crisis-sea-level-habitat-loss
Laurel – We moved into Coral Heights in the late 50s. Oakland Park bridge was a swing bride – probably no one ever lived on North Ocean Blvd where we lived. I delivered 150 afternoon papers to all the residents on North Ocean. Galt Ocean Mile was nothing but a pile of beautiful, impossibly traveled, desolate sand dunes. In 59 all those college kids in that movie were High School kids. By the time I graduated in 1960, there were about 2,500 families moving into Lauderdale. We ranted about the salt intrusion in the water supply, septic tanks, raw sewage dumped in the ocean on outgoing tides, land grabbing, and a multitude of infrastructure problems. There was never a problem then of sea rise – but it is now! Folks are now moving north and out of state. Lauderdale ‘was’ a true Paradise lost . . .
Thank you. Succinct and accessible, yet thorough and accurate too.
I believe desantis (and renner, scott, rubio, et al.) are aiming a lot further back than 1950. More like 1050 — before the “big charter” and all that woke stuff…
They are aiming for naziland. Why else do you think they encourage nazis to join their party and say nothing when nazis come out and ‘protest’???
Lance Carroll says
Like sands through the hourglass.
Omg you people are depressing. No one is denying climate change.
Deborah Coffey says
Yes, they are. And, when Rick Scott was governor, the words “climate change” were banned in the Capitol.
hmmmmmm…move to Floriduh?
temps going up, water levels rising, flooding concerns, ….and don’t mention hurricanes!
and…oh yea…..Home Insurance coverage is sky high!
If Florida is soooo bad why is everyone moving here? Since I was a kid people have been moving here in droves. It’s not Florida causing the problem ,it’s California,New York and new jersey. You have destroyed the places that you lived and now come to beautiful Florida and are working on doing the same thing here. As for the beaches….with seawalls , you can kiss them goodbye. They will become a thing of the past.
If everyone moved out of Florida today searise will still happen. When Yellowstone erupts the problem will be global cooling. Will Desantis get that blame too? No blame going to the hundreds of thousands of new “non-citizens”that never owned cars now moving here and buying cars. What about population spikes around the world? No blame there? No blame to China? No blame on Personal or political jets? Personal Diesel vehicles may as well be guns in the hands of mentally ill people. Try starting with the big picture and chip away at the problem worldwide…Florida is not the problem….it’s all the people rushing to get here because it’s still one of the best states to live in.
For a Governor that went to Yale he sure didn’t learn about actual facts compared to off the wall conspiracies theories. For any politician that can’t accept science and the facts and truth, they have no business being a public servant.
All scientists do not even agree that global warming is real so why do you have a problem with those who do not believe it? It seems to me that unless one agrees with your views or those who share your views, they are considered “conspiracy theorists”. Try to think for yourself..
Timothy Patrick Welch says
There are many more.
Could climate change be racist? If you pay poor nations, wouldn’t that influence their population to not migrate?
Pierre, Dude, Mike, Thimothy, Laurel you are all so right as greed is destroying our beloved pristine Florida. With projects demanding zoning changes from local government like this: https://flaglerlive.com/180929/harborside-plan/ and was conditionally approved against the the majority residents attending pleads, against advise of PLDRB Planning Board and against staff opposition as well…
After all what this community owe to Jim Jacoby aka JDI LLC…what is his track record benefit to the city residents? So far only record is that he profited millions since he first bought Marineland?
Bill Dundas says
Coastal communities in Florida have a responsibility to prohibit new development in low-lying areas, particularly on the many barrier islands most susceptible to storm damage and flooding caused by rising sea levels. Issuing building permits for construction of new residential and commercial buildings in these locations — a practice which continues unabated today throughout the state — is entirely irresponsible and puts Florida taxpayers on the hook for billions in future damages. The state of Florida already is planning to spend more than $5 billion taxpayer dollars to prop up faltering property insurance companies in the state which have suffered massive losses due to hurricane damage during the past several years.