Global Warming Fears Ignite South Florida Secession Movement

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The city of South Miami is looking to separate from Florida and become the 51st state, but not because of traditional political disputes. The city says South Florida’s independence is necessary to address sea level rises caused by global warming, National Journal reports.

“Whereas, climate change is a scientific reality resulting in global warming and rising sea level,” reads a resolution passed by South Miami, adding that “it is estimated that there will be a 3 to 6 foot sea level rise by the end of this century.”

“South Florida’s situation is very precarious and in need of immediate attention,” the resolution adds. “Many of the issues facing South Florida are not political, but are now significant safety issues… 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.”

South Miami argues that North Florida, where the state capital of Tallahassee is located, is not being threatened by sea level rises the way South Florida is. The north is also more sparsely populated and rural than the southern part of the state. The resolution states the northern portion of the state is on average 120 feet above sea level while southern Florida is only 15 feet above sea level on average.

Environmentalists and some climate scientists have been heavily campaigning in Florida to build support for policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, which are blamed for runaway global warming.

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer has already spent millions in the Florida governor’s race attacking Republican incumbent Rick Scott for being a “climate change denier.” But so far, Steyer’s ads have contained numerous falsehoods which have been seized upon by critics to blunt the ads’ effectiveness.

“They’ve put up two 30-second attack ads, both of which contained significant errors of fact,” Rick Foglesong, a political scientist at Rollins College, told NPR. “And these were errors that the other side seized upon in counter-ads, which probably blunted the message that [Steyer] was trying to communicate.”

The main pitch from environmentalists is that Florida’s low elevation and swamp-like terrain in the south makes it especially vulnerable to sea levels rises.

Harris has a particular bone to pick with Gov. Rick Scott, who he says won’t pay attention to Floridians’ concerns about the climate. “This is a reality, even though our present governor doesn’t think so,” Harris says. “Other than the governor of this state, it’s an issue that everyone recognizes.”

Scott is currently in a tight, ugly race against former Republican governor Charlie Crist, who is now running as a Democrat.

National Journal also notes that South Miami Vice Mayor Walter Harris may be holding a grudge against Governor Scott for not providing more funding to fight global warming.

“We need to be able to deal with this situation with a government that recognizes that we’re not North Florida,” Harris said.

“This is a reality, even though our present governor doesn’t think so,” he added. “Other than the governor of this state, it’s an issue that everyone recognizes.”

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