The terrible devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian on Florida’s southwest coast — among the most powerful hurricanes to hit Florida in a century — has been wrenching to watch even from afar: so many lives lost, homes shattered and livelihoods swept away by the storm surge, winds of up to 150 miles per hour and flooding rains. The single comfort has been seeing Floridians rise to the challenge working around the clock, united and determined to make things better for their neighbors.
In such a terrible disaster as this, one obvious question arises: What can be done to prevent such calamitous consequences from storms in the future? Officials in Florida and other states affected by Ian and the Atlantic hurricane season, including South Carolina, have begun taking stock of the ways evacuation orders were handled and safety precautions taken. But a critical component is missing from these discussions: climate change.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has appointed men and women to help the state adapt to sea level rise, protect its coasts and prepare for storms, but he and many other Republicans in the state actively oppose efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, often criticizing such talk as left-wing zealotry. They acknowledge that rising tides and worsening weather are real but express no interest whatsoever in reducing the human-made circumstances that scientists recognize as having made such events more powerful and more frequent.