Southern Half Of Florida Considers Seceding From North Half To Get Away From Gov. Rick Scott
America may someday get a 51st state and it will all be because the southern half of Florida is absolutely embarrassed to be associated with the top half.
Thanks to Republican Governor Rick Scott’s insistence that climate change isn’t real, Florida now has a standing policy that the study and preparation for the effects of rising sea levels should not be addressed. Literally.
According to a press release issued by the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a Land Management Plan Coordinator named Bart Bibler has already been suspended without pay for mentioning in his notes that climate change was discussed at an environmental meeting. His “Official Written Reprimand” cites things like “insubordination” and “conduct unbecoming a public employee.” The reprimand goes on to explain in detail that Bibler was being punished for giving the “appearance” that a meeting had been held to discuss climate change.
Put another way: the state which many scientists believe will be one of the hardest hit by the effects of rising sea levels has buried its head firmly in the sand. Sand, ironically enough, that will within a few decades probably be submerged in the ocean.
If this is alarming to outsiders, imagine how it must feel to live in southern Florida and know that your government has a “If we shut our eyes, it will go away” policy towards climate change? It’s especially distressing for southern Floridians because, unlike Rick Scott’s Governor’s mansion in the northern highlands, the bottom half of the state sits almost at sea level. Today’s sea level.
In a resolution put forward by South Miami’s Vice Mayor Walter Harris, counties sitting in the southern half of the state propose splitting Florida into two: A climate denying North Florida and a sensible south.
North Florida is approximately 120 feet above sea level while the average elevation of South Florida is less than 50 feet with a very large portion of South Florida averaging less than 15 feet above sea level. Many sections of South Florida are 5 feet or less above sea level, including Monroe County and the Gold Coast, consisting of Palm Beach County, Broward County and Miami-Dade County.
The resolution specifically calls out Scott’s apathy towards helping those in his state that most clearly face the dangers of climate change:
Often South Florida issues do not receive the support of Tallahassee. This is despite the fact that South Florida generates more than 69% of the state’s revenue and contains 67% of the state’s population. The creation of the 51st state, South Florida, is a necessity for the very survival of the entire southern region of the current state of Florida and this cannot be accomplished by one municipality alone.
In short, Scott doesn’t care about Florida’s welfare (or doesn’t believe the threat is real, which amounts to roughly the same thing) and this resolution is pointing out that southern Florida doesn’t really need him. They’d be just fine on their own.
According to Harris, he is approaching cities in counties across Florida to ask if they would be interested in becoming a new state. While it’s a longshot, the idea isn’t exactly as far-fetched as it would initially seem.
“We passed it, and I’ve started now speaking to some of the other cities,” Harris told the Miami-Herald. “This is a much easier resolution for the cities to adopt because they aren’t going out on a limb saying that they want to be separated. They just want to investigate the possibility. … There is a lot of individual support.”
Regardless of whether the movement takes off, it’s a testimony to just how worried people are getting about the effects of climate change. For conservative politicians, denying climate change still may seem like a way to score cheap political points, but for citizens living in coastal areas it’s not a game; it’s their homes, their businesses, and possibly even their lives. If creating an entirely new state just to get away from a climate denier in office sounds extreme, well that just goes to show how serious this issue is.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and with water levels creeping up year-by-year and an administration that has banned even discussing climate change, these are desperate times indeed.
Feature image via Gage Skidmore/Flickr