Last year, Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.) introduced and ushered through Congress The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act. President Joe Biden signed it into law in December. It is horrendous to think that slaves are still held. To stop the slave-made goods from being sold here in the U.S., is one step towards helping these slaves. This bill demonstrates that bipartisan unity is at its fullest support for slave labor.
This nonpartisan bill was important for our trade practices with China and the Uyghur workforce. It needed to be passed. It was supported by both parties. This bipartisan support must address the serious problems that we face today. We don’t have time for partisan politics.
Climate change is one such issue that requires immediate, nonpartisan action. We all know that Florida is a state that must act quickly and we are all aware of the urgency of this issue. Already, Miami Beach is fighting rising waters. Rising seas are already threatening Miami. It is actually the most at-risk U.S. town from sea level rise. The Everglades, Florida Keys, and other coastal Florida areas are just a few examples of sea-level lands that are at risk.
By 2030, sea level rise will be between 2-10 inches. Storm surges will be greater, coastal homes will be vulnerable and all of the state’s coastal areas will be changed. Rising ocean and seawater intrusion could have a negative impact on roads, sewage systems and agriculture, as well as drinking water.
But climate change is not limited to sea level rise. As temperatures continue to rise, much of south Florida will become too hot for crops. The heat will cause heatstroke in workers, who won’t be able to work during the long summer days. Think about how that heat will affect roofers and landscapers here in Gainesville.
Our city is currently experiencing self-identification as climate refugees. Housing, already a major problem in the state and here, will be impacted by this new population. As coastal areas become less suitable for homes, more and more climate refugees will move inland — many, probably way too many, to Gainesville.
Politicians should support efforts to reduce our temperature and air pollution. Climate change is too urgent to be left to the partisans. This crisis demands that all of us work together to reduce the threat we face to our economy and jobs, as well as to our way to live.
Carlos Curbelo, a former Florida Rep. from the 26th Congressional District, understood the importance of addressing climate change together. The Climate Caucus was created by Curbelo (a Republican), and Ted Deutch, a Democrat. It has equal numbers of members from each political party working side-by side to combat climate change. One option that was being considered was a bill to put a price on carbon.
As Curbelo said, “Every member of Congress has a responsibility to our constituents and future generations to support market-based solutions, investments and innovations that could alleviate the effects of climate change and make our nation more resilient.” We must take action to keep temperatures from continuing to rise and to build resiliency.
If polarized lawmakers are unable or unwilling to support the Build back Better Act currently in Congress they must present an alternative. It is unconscionable to withhold action or refuse to pass any bill because it is from a rival party.
“Congress, it’s time for you to play well together” comes to mind, a saying often heard as citizens realize we are all being held hostage by a Congress too concerned about their own future and not nearly enough about their constituents. When will Congress think about the terrible consequences that we all will be facing?
Both parties must return for negotiations. Bipartisanship must prevail when trying to address climate crisis. To not act is to ignore the many people who will be affected by this unaddressed global climate crisis.
Curbelo argues that Congress serves the people. To lower the amount of air pollution, our elected officials must act in everyone’s best interest.
Climate change will change the lives of Floridians as well as citizens from every state. There are solutions to this threat, but Congress must be willing to overlook partisanship and work for all people.
Bipartisan action is needed. It is urgent that this action be taken.
Susan Nugent is a Climate Reality Project leader in Gainesville.
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