Sea-level rise has become such a problem in Miami-Dade that even Republican leaders admit the issue is real.
"It's not a theory," county Mayor Carlos Gimenez said of global warming in January. "It's a fact. We live it every day."
For once, we wish Gimenez had spent more time hanging out with his old golf buddy Donald Trump. Today Trump's Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released its official 2018 proposal, which, if enacted, would strip away every federal sea-level-rise research program. Rumors have flown for weeks that the OMB was planning to cut funding for programs such as the satellite division of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which helps Miami prepare for hurricanes.
But somehow the plan Trump proposed today is even worse. The president's "America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again" takes a hacksaw to vital programs such as the National Endowment for the Arts; funding to the United Nations; and multiple programs to help disadvantaged adults, children, and people of color. (It includes cutting money from Meals on Wheels and heating assistance for poor people in the wintertime.) Trump claims he needs to do this in order to afford his $54 billion defense-spending hike, as well as his border wall.
Most frightening for Miamians, though, the plan eliminates all the money for federal climate-change research and preparedness.
Trump also proposes taking a $250 million buzz saw to NOAA's "grants and programs supporting coastal and marine management, research, and education." They help cities such as Miami — the most at-risk community in America when it comes to global warming — prepare for the inevitably worse storms and flooding that will result from ocean rise.
"These programs are a lower priority than core functions maintained in the budget such as surveys, charting, and fisheries management," Trump's new budget reads.
Amazingly, the budget would eliminate the $73 million federal sea-grant program, which provides funding to universities that conduct ocean research. The Sunshine State's chapter is headquartered at the University of Florida and operates programs at Florida International University, Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida State University, the University of Miami, and other colleges.
Florida's sea-grant programs study not only climate change but also pollution. And they help prepare communities for disasters, preserve coral reefs, and even safeguard the quality of seafood.
Trump maintains that these programs "primarily benefit industry and state and local stakeholders" and should be cut from the federal payroll.
Trump also wants to cut money from NOAA's satellite division. Though that news was leaked last week to the Washington Post, there's a new wrinkle. NOAA has long planned to launch two new satellites to monitor the polar ice caps. Now — you guessed it — Trump wants to make sure those satellites never get off the ground.
And those figures cover just the Commerce Department. Elsewhere, Trump has proposed cutting all of the climate-based programs at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), State Department, NASA, and Department of Energy.
At the EPA, Trump wants to trim 3,200 jobs, stop the agency from cleaning up hyperpolluted Superfund sites (which were recently linked to cancer in Florida), and, most notable, cut every single climate-change research program. As most insiders expected, the cuts include Barack Obama's flagship Clean Power Plan, which set carbon-emission limits for major polluters such as power plants.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science is slated for a $900 million whack. (That's roughly 20 percent of its $5 billion budget.) At the State Department, both the $350 million Global Climate Change initiative and the $3 billion Green Climate Fund, which fund global-warming-preparedness projects abroad, are set to be vaporized.
NASA will receive a $200 million cut to its climate-preparedness and earth-science programs. According to the Washington Post, that division houses "the ocean-monitoring program PACE; the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3; the Deep Space Climate Observatory; and the CLARREO Pathfinder, which measures heat in Earth’s atmosphere."
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The budget needs to pass through Congress before it's adopted. If you're upset about the proposals, now is the time to flood your local representatives with phone calls.
Be forewarned: If the plan is approved, Miami will be forced to fight climate change naked, armed with nothing but its fleshy, useless fists while walls of hurricane storm surges pound the city. According to the New Yorker, more property is at risk of sea-level damage in Miami than in any city but Guangzhou, China. (It's unclear if Trump understands the ocean won't spare his precious Mar-a-Lago.) Not only glitzy hotels and mansions are at risk. A significant portion of Miami's low-income residents live in flood-prone areas that are extremely vulnerable to rising tides and hurricane flooding. The only major plan Miami's local representatives have floated that seems feasible is letting South Florida slowly morph into Venice. In proposing this budget, Trump has sent a message that he is content letting Miamians drown.
Here's the full budget proposal: