As far as temperatures go, 2010 was one of the hottest years in recorded history, according to the World Meteorological Organization. It’s a sign of a changing environment that threatens the viability of sensitive habitats and above all, our way of life.
This also means rising sea levels – especially dangerous to shore-heavy Florida – “and that means there are adjustments we have to make,” said USF geologist Jeffrey Ryan to the St. Petersburg Times.
It’s critical to undertake measures to reduce the continuously negative impact human society is having on the natural world. However, this can be increasingly difficult as the tentacles of partisanship and self-interest wrestle with the issue and prevent it from being addressed by government on the federal level.
That’s why individual states must continue to take measures into their own hands.
Congressional Republicans have recently sought to stop the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating emissions. They also kept last year’s Democratic-controlled Congress from passing any climate change legislation, leading some states to pass their own laws.
California has required TVs to be more energy efficient and set rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 15 percent in less than ten years. Massachusetts would like to allow insurers to base rates on cars’ annual mileage and has announced that it’s trying to reduce greenhouse gas emission by 25 percent by 2020.
“Cap and Trade” programs, which set limits to the amount of pollution that businesses can produce, while allowing some to purchase credits from companies who have polluted less, are becoming increasingly popular and have gained support from dozens of state governments.
As far as Florida, the state ranks 30th, out of all 50 states, in terms of energy efficiency projects, according to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.
This ranking seems to reflect an unwillingness, on behalf of state leaders, to tackle the effects of climate change in a state with a lot to lose in terms of tourism dollars – tourism dollars which tellingly flow based on the state’s natural beauty.
Some efforts are best left to the national government, specifically any policies affecting the U.S. as a whole or changing foreign policy. However, enacting progressive climate change regulations does not have the potential to adversely affect the interest of the entire country, except for providing a cleaner environment for residents of particular states.
Though it requires a careful and complex balance between environmental and economic concerns, states must continue to aggressively work towards sustaining the natural environment and reducing the limit of man’s footprint for the sake of everyone.