Cable television failed the American public in many ways this election cycle. But perhaps its biggest failure was letting the candidates get through three debates without asking a single question about climate change.
For South Floridians, neither candidate was forced to answer how he or she would handle the literal flood set to turn Miami into the lost city of Atlantis. That's despite the fact that 97 percent of the world's scientists agree that manmade climate change is set to destroy South Florida.
But that doesn't mean Donald Trump hasn't spelled out his beliefs on climate change. And now that he's ascended to the presidency with a red-colored Senate and House drooling gleefully in tow, it's abundantly clear that Florida is all but certain to sink farther underwater over the next four to eight years.
Trump's apologists claim he'll be held back by the nation's built-in system of checks and balances. But Trump has pledged to do two things well within his power to ensure that zero progress is made on climate change.
First, he has promised to pull out of the Paris Agreement, a global pact President Obama signed promising that the U.S. will cut down on greenhouse gas emissions. Trump, as president, has the unilateral power to erase Obama's signature from the treaty. He will almost certainly make good on this promise within his first 100 days in office.
Second, Trump has been dead-set on abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). He has also promised to cut "70 to 80 percent" of the department's regulations.
Today news broke that Trump's likely pick to head the EPA is Myron Ebell, one of the nation's foremost climate-change deniers. Ebell heads the the Center for Energy and Environment, the global-warming-focused wing of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank. Ebell has repeatedly called climate-change media "alarmism" and chairs the Cooler Heads Coalition, which Scientific American describes as a group of nonprofits that “question global warming alarmism and oppose energy-rationing policies.”
Ebell leads Trump's "transition team" to take over the EPA. In September, Andrew Revkin, a noted environmental reporter for the New York Times, referred to Ebell's crew as an "evisceration team."
Trump has also pledged to "cancel billions in payments to UN climate-change programs" within his first 100 days in office.
King tides flood streets in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
Photo by Jess Swanson
Miami's political elite certainly didn't think things would turn out this way. Rumors had swirled for months that noted Hillary Clinton booster Philip Levine, Miami Beach's mayor, could get tapped to run some sort of climate-change team in her cabinet.
Some even guessed that Levine could have been tapped to run the EPA itself, which helps explain why he spent the last month of the campaign cycle traveling around America in a private plane wearing an "I'm With Her" hat. Levine's D.C. future took a big hit last night, but, more important, so did South Florida's very real flooding issues.
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There is one other truly terrifying political appointment that Floridians should keep an eye on. Noted climate-change denier Gov. Rick Scott has been floated repeatedly as a possible choice for a Trump cabinet position. Though some have suggested Scott could lead the EPA, that choice isn't likely. (Scott might instead run for U.S. Senate to unseat Bill Nelson, the state's last high-ranking Democrat.)
But Scott, who has done more to dismantle Florida's environmental regulations than almost any politician in Florida history, chaired Trump's main political action committee and has already taken to Facebook to gloat about Trump's victory today.
Scott has reportedly banned the phrase "climate change" from the governor's office. In Obama's America, that made the governor a loon and a charlatan. But Trump will do all he can to boost Scott, and many men like him, higher and higher as the waters rise.