Florida: first state to divide on grounds of climate change?

Signal of change / Florida: first state to divide on grounds of climate change?

By Harriet Trefusis / 21 Jan 2015

Politicians from the south of Florida are proposing to split the American state of Florida into ‘South Florida’ and ‘North Florida’ due to the lack of political reactions they are getting to their climate change issues. This is the first time climate change has been cited as the reason for dividing a state.


South Florida is one of the most vulnerable urban areas to climate change risks in the world. With ten inches of sea level rise in the last century, combined with their low lying cities, increasing population and subsequent construction developments, cities such as Miami need to radically address climate change in order to adapt and mitigate against the possible impacts, both in the present and the future. The limestone base of southern Florida combined with sea level rise has increased the saline water preventing inland drainage and contaminating fresh water. Other factors are also important, including the vulnerability of the Everglades ecosystem and Turkey Point nuclear reactor, lying close to the sea.


However, some senior politicians in Florida, primarily based in the north of the state, believe there is no anthropological climate change and that there is little to be achieved by passing laws to attempt to regulate it. Republican Governor Rick Scott in particular has implied that he doesn’t recognise climate change. This view is in direct opposition to those of many politicians in the south of the state, who recognise that an increase of the sea level by a foot would inundate the drinking water and sewage systems with salt water and make the cities uninhabitable.


Walter Harris, the vice mayor of South Miami put forward a resolution for independence, stating that climate change is the predominant reason.


Image credits: Blue Skyz Studios / flickr

So what?

The threat of a division serves to put pressure on the politicians in the north of the state to act in response to climate change in the south. Whether or not a split would enable the south to act more quickly to mitigate climate change, or whether it would simply release the north of its responsibility to vulnerable areas, making collaboration across common challenges even less likely and more difficult, remains to be seen. 






What might the implications of this be? What related signals of change have you seen?

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