A new study by the Center for American Progress finds that climate change constitutes a major threat to south Florida, and that there's an urgent need for action to head off disaster. Here's the report's conclusion:
There are few places in the United States that are more vulnerable to climate change than Miami-Dade County. Meeting the challenges of sea level rise and more extreme heat and storms may seem daunting, but county leaders have many tools at their disposal to make Miami-Dade a global model for climate change resilience. Evidence in the form of flooding, heat waves, and heavy rainfall— together with volumes of scientific research on climate change risks—make clear that Miami-Dade must immediately move beyond promise to action.
County leaders and residents must build the political willpower to strengthen, fund, and implement the county’s existing resilience plans. The county must work with the business community to strengthen their commitments to climate resilience to help safeguard jobs and wages. County officials also should work more closely with community advocates to expand and strengthen public outreach to improve understanding of climate change risks and resilience, as well as the mitigation strategies that can save lives. In order to thrive in the 21st century, county leaders must accelerate efforts to build a climate resilient, low-carbon and equitable Miami-Dade community.
Of course, as we know, carbon-based energy sources are fueling climate change and threatening to swamp places like Miami. Ultimately, in order to avert a wide array of serious problems, it's clear that we need to transition as rapidly as possible from dirty energy -- coal, oil and natural gas -- to a clean energy economy. Florida, of course, is known as the "Sunshine State" for good reason; it is one of the sunniest places in the United States, which in turn makes it ideal for distributed and utility-scale solar power. Unfortunately, fossil fuel interests are fighting hard to prevent his from happening. For instance, see recent articles like:
- Koch Brothers Continue War on Solar in Sunshine State
- Florida utilities say solar doesn't work in the Sunshine State, but it sure does in Georgia
- Florida is one of five states that ban certain solar sales, petition group says
- Florida utilities work to stop rooftop solar
- Utility-backed solar referendum challenged in Florida Supreme Court
- Gov. Rick Scott's ban on climate change term extended to other state agencies
- Gov. Scott had stake in pipeline firm whose $3 billion venture he and his appointees backed
That's just a small sampling to provide a flavor for what the solar power industry is facing in Florida. What would happen if this opposition could be overcome? As this CNBC article explains, "Florida ranks third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, but drops to number 13 for the amount of solar that is actually installed." And according to NRDC, "A 2004 study of small residential solar arrays by the Florida Solar Energy Center found that Florida has 85 percent of the maximum solar energy potential of any place in the country, at 7.2 kilowatt-hours per day." The only question is, how long with Floridians allow the fossil fuel industry, and its friends in the state legislature, to block solar power scaling in the "Sunshine State," along with the multitude of economic and environmental benefits it will bring?