[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n response to the ban on state agencies using terms such as “climate change” and “global warming,” and rising tides, Vice Mayor Walter Harris pushed for a resolution to make South Florida 51st state,which was supported by Mayor Phil Stoddard, and Commissioner Bob Welsh, the resolution requests that the Miami-Dade County League of Cities form a committee to investigate the possibility of the creation of South Florida as the 51st state.
Harris expects more local communities to also adopt the resolution. “This is the way that we can get communities involved without them having to feel like they’re not going to get any help from Tallahassee,” Harris said in a Mar. 17 commissioners meeting.
Although it is unlikely that South Florida will become its own state, Commissioner Welsh believes that the threat of it will make an impact. “My observations throughout history is that governments only really reform when they are existentially threatened…” Welsh said in response to Harris.
According to scientists at the University of Miami’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, South Florida will be among the regions of the world most severely affected by climate change. In fact, Senior Researcher Brian McNoldy recently reported that the Virginia Key sea levels have risen four inches since 1996 and continue to rise at an accelerated rate, making South Florida the fourth largest population most vulnerable to sea level rise in the world.
The problem is further complicated by South Florida’s porous limestone rock that can cause rapid flooding. With sea levels expected to rise three to six feet by the end of the century, this could be a major issue for many surrounding communities.
While Governor Rick Scott denies the ban on such terminology, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting reported on Mar. 8 that at several state agencies, including the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) officials have been ordered not to use the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” “sea level rise” or “sustainability.”
South Miami city officials see this ban as a direct disregard for environmental issues the region faces and hope the threat of creating a new state will have an effect locally and in Tallahassee.