In a Sea of Warped Politics, Florida Buries Reefs While Its Governor Bans “Global Warming” and “Climate Change”
by Owen James Burke
Diver Rachel Silverstein inspects dead coral in Florida’s Biscayne Bay. Photo: Pete Zuccarini/NYT
News agencies are abuzz over a report that Florida Governor Rick Scott quietly ordered the state’s Department of Environmental Protection to put the kibosh on the use of the terms “global warming” and “climate change” — terms that he has expressed a personal aversion toward (though he, along with several other members of the GOP who share his point of view, concedes he’s not a scientist).
Meanwhile, as Florida continues to outwardly express interest for taking actions to protect its marine habitats, it has permitted a $205-million-dollar dredging project to expand the port of Miami’s shipping channels for new super-sized container ships. Unfortunately, government divers surveying the area around the area have surfaced with bad news from the surrounding reefs, and it seems clear that the dredging has smothered the reefs with silt.
A federal plan to protect marine animals from the effects of the dredging was announced in 2013, but Florida conservationists argue that the Army Corps of Engineers have violated the initiative. Although the Corps did relocate 924 (non-endangered) coral species, a recent report published by NOAA suggests that since the project began, 23% of the staghorn coral population in Biscayne Bay has been lost.