Last year, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) introduced and ushered through Congress the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in December. To think that people still are held as slaves is horrific; to prevent those goods made by slaves from coming to market here in the U.S. is one step toward helping these slaves. With this bill, the full force of bipartisan unity showed that we will not support slave labor.
That nonpartisan bill, significant to our trade practices with China as well as to the Uyghur workforce, needed passing. It received bipartisan support. Such bipartisan support must address the serious issues that face us today. We don’t have time for partisan politics.
One such issue that needs immediate nonpartisan action is climate change. Living in Florida, we all know that action must be taken and that needs to happen quickly. Miami Beach is already combatting rising waters. Miami itself is in threat of rising seas. In fact, it is the U.S. city most at risk of sea level rise. Other examples of sea-level lands at risk include the Everglades, the Florida Keys and other parts of coastal Florida
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Sea level rise is predicted to be two to 10 inches by 2030. Storm surges will be greater, coastal homes will be vulnerable and all of the state’s coastal areas will be changed. The rising ocean and seawater intrusion will impact roads, sewage systems, agriculture and drinking water.
But sea level rise is not the only climate-related issue in Florida. Much of south Florida will be way too hot to raise crops as our temperatures continue to rise. Workers will not be capable of staying in the heat during our long summer days. Think how that heat will affect roofers, landscapers and many other workers here in Gainesville.
Presently our city is gaining self-identified climate refugees. The translocated population will burden housing, already an urban issue here and throughout the state. As coastal areas become less suitable for homes, more and more climate refugees will move inland — many, probably way too many, to Gainesville.
Politicians must support efforts to keep our temperatures and our air pollution from rising. Climate change is too urgent for just partisanship. This crisis requires all of us to work together to reduce this threat to our economy, to our jobs, to our environment and to our way of life.
The former Florida Rep. Carlos Curbelo from the 26th Congressional District knew the necessity of addressing climate change with both parties working together. Curbelo (a Republican) and Rep. Ted Deutch (a Democrat) developed the Climate Caucus, with an equal number of members from each party working side-by-side to tackle climate change. One possibility that group was considering was a bill that would have 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 politicians cannot support the Build Back Better Act presently in Congress, then they must present an alternative. To withhold action, to refuse to pass any bill simply because it originates with the rival party, is unconscionable.
“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 consider the egregious effects we all will face?
Pelosi pushes climate priority in upcoming bills
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi highlights the climate provisions and need for U.S. emissions reductions in the Build Back Better legislation before Congress as the world’s nations prepare to gather for a climate summit next month in Glasgow. (Sept. 28)
Both parties must return to negotiation. Bipartisanship must prevail in efforts to address the climate crisis. Not to act is to forget about the many people who will suffer from this unaddressed climate crisis.
As Curbelo points out, Congress serves the people. Our elected officials must act in the interest of all to seek ways to lower air pollution.
Floridians, as well as the citizens of every state, will find their lives change dramatically because of climate change. Solutions to this threat exist, but it takes a Congress willing to put aside partisanship and work for the good of the people.
Bipartisan action must be taken. That action needs to happen now.
Susan Nugent is a Climate Reality Project leader from Gainesville.
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