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GREENINGS: Short-term solutions haunt future (October 2018)

October 16th, 2018 · No Comments

Florida’s red tide a harbinger of what not to do

By Terri Chu

Premier Doug Ford has scrapped cap and trade, embarking on a path of environmental destruction that’s fuelled by subsidies to polluters. The shamelessness is galling and we’re likely to see more of it over the next four years.

The most concerning thing is the implicit belief that society should, at its core, subsidize pollution. We need not look very far to see how that comes to bite us in the behind.

The once popular Governor Rick Scott of Florida was recently booed out of a restaurant. What seemed like a good idea at the time, benefitted some at the time, is now causing widespread pain for many across the state.

Scott fought against, and ultimately won, the battle against the American Environmental Protection Agency’s standards on waterway pollution. At the time, like Ford does now, he argued it would hurt the economy. He argued that jobs would be at stake.

Scott gutted the state’s EPA, stacked it with developers, and eventually got his way of an underlying belief that unfettered pollution is the way of the people.

That fundamental belief that business knows best and risking a single job from 2010 is causing empty hotels, laid off workers, lonely restaurants, and unusable beaches in 2018. I certainly hope being a short term sellout was worth the devastation as toxic red algae takes over Florida’s coastal waters.

Something locals know as red tide has bloomed so aggressively this year that Floridians can’t even open their beach-front windows. In addition to the stench, people are at higher risk of respiratory illness thanks to the toxins, and the state’s beaches are littered with the carcasses of dead marine animals.

The algae, while a natural occurrence, have been fed by agricultural runoff, and very likely exacerbated by some of Scott’s other measures, like a killed septic tank inspection program. There is little scientific doubt that tighter waterway standards eight years ago would have mitigated some of the disaster that Floridians face now.

In short, Scott sacrificed 2018 jobs, health, and quality of life, for profits in 2010. No doubt his constituents will let him know what they think of the trade-off now.

Ford is making similar trade-offs with his attack on green energy, a carbon tax, and low emission vehicles. He is trading off a quick buck for status quo players for long-term respiratory illnesses, and an overall lower quality of life that we will probably see in about a decade.

Perhaps Ford thinks he won’t be vying for re-election by then so it isn’t his problem. For those of us who live here, it’s our problem, if we’re lucky enough to be alive by then. We shouldn’t be forced to subsidize polluters anymore with our health and well-being. If polluters don’t pay up now, as Florida is showing us, the rest of us will pay up eventually. Whether or not it’s worth the trade-off, I suppose it depends on whether or not you’re making the buck now.

Terri Chu is an engineer committed to practical environmentalism. This column is dedicated to helping the community reduce energy and distinguish environmental truths from myths.



GREENINGS: Urban under-representation (Aug./Sept. 2018)

GREENINGS: Nurture the neighbourhood by cultivating green canopy (Summer 2018)

GREENINGS: Results beg for electoral reform (July 2018)

GREENINGS: Choosing the lesser evil (Election Special 2018)

GREENINGS: Reduce, reuse, and then recycle (May 2018)

GREENINGS: Car-free parenting is not rare (Spring 2018)

GREENINGS: The science of board games (Mar. 2018)

GREENINGS: Driving fuelled by unseen subsidies (Jan. 2018)

GREENINGS: No solutions for nobody’s problem (Dec. 2017)

GREENINGS: Celebrate science not milestones (Nov. 2017)

GREENINGS: Down to the data (Oct. 2017)


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