From The Observer News
In 1900 Florida’s population was roughly 500,000 people. Florida was the least populated state in the American South, and climate change issues mostly consisted of folks wanting it to be cooler in the summer. Today Florida will soon have 18 million residents, and roughly 70 million people come to Florida as tourists each year. By the time the 2010 Census is completed Florida will be the third largest state in the country. Whether we like it or not Florida has become a mega-trend state and we can offer leadership for the Gulf region, or we can set some continued bad examples for our neighbors.
Gov. Charlie Crist
Gov. Crist recently hosted a Climate Change Summit in Miami, Florida. This summit could have been another string of photo ops with speeches and promises, and details to be discussed later in the backrooms of Tallahassee. Instead, Gov. Crist initiated bold and defining policies that place Florida in the ranks of states like California and Massachusetts in terms of commitment to stop climate change and implement a clean, sustainable energy policy. Gov. Crist is sometimes now referred to, with a great deal of respect and admiration, as Gov. Climate.
As a native and life long Floridian it is somewhat novel for me to see this type of leadership coming from our state’s governor on environmental issues. We have had some good governors and some less than green governors in my lifetime, but few acted in such a bold and decisive manner on an issue of such global importance. If polling is any indication (and Gov. Crist’s approval ratings are through the roof) Floridians like and admire this boldness and believe action on climate change and energy policy is long overdue.
I believe that history will judge the vast majority of the initiatives set forth by Gov. Crist, and the climate change agreements with other states and even other countries he signed at the Climate Change Summit , to be a defining part of his legacy as Governor. Governor Crist has inspired the state of Florida to consider a variety of steps we all might take to work to reduce climate change.
No plan is perfect, and truth be told I am profoundly concerned about the potential for nuclear energy to emerge as part of Florida’s “sustainable” energy future. With that said we can celebrate the tremendous steps forward Gov. Crist has initiated while we continue to push for our vision of an energy future for Florida that relies on policies and technologies of the future, and not the incredibly expensive and failed technologies of the past.
Florida, like the rest of the Gulf Coast, has a lot to lose if we don’t get serious about climate change. Gov. Crist has moved Florida to the forefront of national and international efforts to fight global warming and offset climate change. Florida should be thankful that the “people’s governor” is also Gov. Climate.
Joe Murphy is the Florida Programs Coordinator for the Gulf Restoration Network. You can learn more about GRN by visiting www.healthygulf.org
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