President Barack Obama plans to visit the Florida Everglades on Wednesday to highlight the urgency of tackling climate change. It will be the President’s first trip to the Everglades. The Florida marsh is imperiled by rising ocean levels. In addition, the swamp serves as a symbolic backdrop for Obama to contrast his policies with those of the Republican presidential hopefuls, as two of the most prominent GOP candidates, Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio, are from Florida.
President Obama plans to highlight his environmental record during his visit. He will discuss his support for Everglades restoration, as well as his efforts to cap carbon pollution. He also plans to emphasize the role our nation’s public lands play in reducing carbon emissions into the earth’s atmosphere.
President Obama is expected to point out that climate change threatens not only the natural beauty of the Everglades but also that it poses a threat to South Florida’s economy that depends on tourist spending. He is also expected to mention that rising sea levels also potentially endanger underground aquifers, which provide drinking water for millions of Florida residents.
The White House maintains that they did not choose to stress climate change at the Everglades to explicitly draw contrasts with Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio. Bush and Rubio intend to roll back environmental protections designed to address climate change as burdensome and unnecessary. While Republicans have sometimes joined with Democrats to give lip service to preserving the Everglades, they have seldom promoted policies consistent with protecting the 1.5 million acre natural area.
Rising sea levels threaten not only the Florida Everglades, but also a number of cities along the Florida coastline. While politicians in the Midwest can perhaps ignore rising sea levels for years to come, Florida Republicans may not be able to enjoy that luxury much longer if their constituent’s homes start sinking into the Atlantic.
President Obama’s visit to the Everglades on Earth Day should serve as a reminder to Americans how critical the issue of climate change has become. Now it is up to the nation to take the action needed to fight it. That fight is not just a fight for the future of the Florida Everglades, but also for the future of Florida’s coastal human settlements as well.
Keith Brekhus is a progressive American who currently resides in Red Lodge, Montana. He is co-host for the Liberal Fix radio show. He holds a Master’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Missouri. In 2002, he ran for Congress as a Green Party candidate in the state of Missouri. In 2014, he worked as a field organizer for Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick’s successful re-election bid in Arizona’s 1st Congressional District. He can be followed on Twitter @keithbrekhus or on Facebook.