A group of twenty-one Florida mayors have written a letter to the networks broadcasting this week’s Republican debate in Miami demanding that they stop the schoolyard insults and talk about the one issue that’s of most interest to the voters in Miami and other coastal states – climate change, and how to deal with rising sea levels. “It would be unconscionable for these issues of grave concern for the people of Florida to not be addressed in the upcoming debate you will be hosting in the state,” they said.
Although the Republican candidates have spent countless hours discussing Hillary Clinton’s emails, just how many Mexican families they’re going to deport, and yes, how well endowed they are (physically, not mentally), not once have they addressed the only problem that’s bigger than Donald Trump’s ego – the oncoming cataclysm of climate change.
Now, this Thursday the GOP reality show is coming to Miami, Florida for their next shouting match, an area where the consequences of climate change is already being felt. Like other coastal cities, Southern Florida is an area that is very vulnerable to rising sea levels. But none of the Republican candidates are at all concerned with climate change, and most want to see environmental regulations diminished.
Florida’s own Senator Rubio has said that the climate is always changing, and therefore won’t do anything about it, lest he upset the sugar industry and fossil fuel donors that his struggling campaign relies on. South Florida Mayor Cindy Lerner condemned him for his refusal to face reality: “To have especially Marco, who is in such denial, ignore the very academic institutions that he has supported, funded, and worked with for more than a decade is really ridiculous, quite frankly.
Trump, of course, is the farthest removed from reality, once claiming that climate change was really a conspiracy perpetrated by the Chinese to hurt American businesses. Ted Cruz once told Glenn Beck, “Climate change is not science. It’s religion.” However, if 97% of the scientific community accepts something as fact, you can be pretty sure it’s worth taking seriously. The upcoming debate is a vital opportunity to press these candidates with questions on climate change. It is crucial that they state, on national television, that they do accept mainstream science when it comes to matters that affect the survival of the human species.
On the other hand, the Democratic candidates have consistently brought attention to this major issue. On Sunday’s Democratic debate, the candidates disagreed somewhat over the use of fracking, but it was clear that both of them consider the safety of the environment very important. It’s time for Republican voters to let these GOP candidates know that they can’t simply ignore the issue of climate change forever.