View from a NASA satellite of Hurricane Irma forming over the Atlantic.

A Letter From Florida to the Nation: Climate Denial Is Killing Us

I've lived in Florida for 26 years. In that time, I've never evacuated for a storm. But after witnessing Hurricane Harvey ravage Texas, I knew that Irma was going to be different.

Homeowners Access Hurricane Irma Damage

People look at what is left of their home after Hurricane Irma made landfall in Florida.

© Greenpeace / Marc Serota

I’m safe now.

I had to evacuate from my home in St. Petersburg to Orlando to avoid the worst of the dangerous wind, rain, and storm surges brought on by Hurricane Irma. But my heart is still heavy — at least 11 of my fellow Floridians have been killed, adding to the 27 lives lost so far in the Caribbean. And millions more just like me have been forced from their homes, are without power, or separated from loved ones.

There’s a lot that we still don’t know — how much more damage Irma will cause in South Carolina and Georgia, how long it will take to restore power to parts of Florida, what the damage will cost, and more. What we do know is that the most vulnerable among us in our coastal communities urgently need our help.

To support local relief efforts right now, please give what you can to these grassroots organizations helping communities recover, rebuild, and fight for climate justice.

And to support vulnerable coastal communities in the long-term, we must continue to push our elected officials for climate action.

That means calling out the climate deniers standing in the way.

Rising seas lead to larger storm surges. Warmer oceans make storms wetter and more intense. Sea level rise makes coastal cities more prone to flooding. Irma and Harvey are exactly what scientists have been warning us about, but climate deniers like Florida Governor Rick Scott and Senator Marco Rubio have ignored the warning signs.

We can’t let these deniers — or their fossil fuel industry backers — guide the nation’s response to these hurricanes. Scott already left us less prepared by banning the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from even using the words climate change, and Trump stopped an Obama-era requirement that roads and buildings be built to withstand climate-fueled flooding.

For these politicians, denial is business as usual, but Harvey and Irma change everything. The nation is talking about climate change right now. This is the moment for us to make our voices heard.

As a Floridian affected by Hurricane Irma and an American who wants to protect my country from more climate-fueled extreme weather, here’s what I want to see.

I want the voices of everyday people — especially low-income communities of color and immigrants who have the most to lose from climate change — lifted up in conversations about resilience and rebuilding. I want my elected officials to listen to me and my community, not corporate developers who stand to profit from climate catastrophe.

I want Congress to listen to scientists about the best ways to build climate resilient schools, roads, bridges, transit systems, and other infrastructure. I want any bill passed to fund hurricane relief — which Congress is debating right now — to to reinstate the flood safety rules Trump struck down.

And I want rebuilding to put my state on a path to 100 percent renewable energy, not further our reliance on the fossil fuels that made this storm worse in the first place.

While we take on the urgent work of helping those in need here in Florida, I need you to stand with me in these demands. Will you? Add your name at the links below to demand a just, equitable recovery for the victims of Harvey and Irma.

Megan Weeks

© Megan Weeks

Megan Weeks is a frontline campaigns organizer for Greenpeace USA.

She lives in St. Petersburg, Florida, which saw flooding, massive power outages, and extensive property damage during Hurricane Irma.

 


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