What will our legacy be?

Generations from now they will open their history books and look back on our generation and point to it as a turning point in the battle against climate change. There’s no argument that the planet is warming. The last three years (2015, 2016 and 2017) have been the three hottest on record. How much are we contributing to it? There’s the rub. My thought is, does it matter how much we’re contributing to it? Shouldn’t we stop it? Whatever part we are contributing, shouldn’t we cut that out post-haste? We have a chance, right now, to start making a difference. We need to push.

I already see some success.

I know the people of Florida want to preserve this beautiful place. I’ve seen it at the ballot box when nearly 75% of you voted in favor of the Florida Water and Land Conservation Amendment in 2014. The money raised by that amendment has not been used wisely. I think that’s a problem and I aim to fix that. I have no intention of doing it alone. I already see allies in the House and Senate that share the same concerns you and I do. State Senator Joe Negron (R) got SB 10 passed that will help decrease overflow from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries by building a reservoir south of the lake. Unfortunately, it’s a stop-gap measure. Acquiring the land south of the lake and restoring the natural flow south through the Everglades is the only way to solve the problem permanently.

So where is all the land we’ve acquired? Well, aside from a few projects that have gone forward, the legislature, at least through the 2017 session, hasn’t put any of the promised funds in land acquisition. That might have changed this session. Senate Bill 370 and the companion House Bill 1353 were moving along but ended up dying in committee. The bills would have allocated funding to different conservation projects but from reading the text, it looks as though $100 million would have been devoted to land acquisition. Nope. never even came up for a vote.

No issue in the state is more pressed against the clock than land acquisition. Once land is lost to development, it’s lost forever. We have a chance, in Florida, to cordon off large swaths of wild space to preserve the habitats of hundreds of species of animals and to bring millions of dollars to the state through tourism. Have you every tried to book a campsite at a state or national forest in Florida? Try it sometime. You’ll see just how many people love the outdoors and love to spend time with their families in nature. Truly, wild space is our most precious resource and we need to preserve it.

Regardless of what you think the severity of our contribution to climate change is, you have to agree that we should do absolutely everything we can to prevent it. I can’t look my children in the face and not think of what kind of planet I will leave them. Will I leave them one with streams bubbling from a methane gas pipeline rupture or crude oil pumping into our waterways, treated wastewater pumped into our aquifer? I feel like we have to do something, especially when the technology is widely available. I think, as a state legislator, I can help divest in fossil fuel and invest in renewable energy. There is no reason Florida cannot be 100% powered by the sun. Why has this not happened already? It ought to be a goal and it ought to be a goal on the horizon and not a back burner.

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(the state butterfly of Florida, the Long-Winged Zebra Butterfly)