Saturday, June 07, 2008

Green Paper on Climate Change and Energy Options For the State of Florida

Released 4/17/2008
By Green Party of Florida and Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition

[Now that our green paper is a public document, we consider it a work in progress, an opening to the deeper public conversation about what we must do to recreate a truly sustainable energy regime, in the short amount of time we have to do it. Wider input is invited to develop it into a rich public resource document, in the spirit of democratic community enterprise.]

"…With such enlarging crises of energy and growth, we must accomplish a vital feat in record time. That feat is to determine the acceptable limits of development within regions of the State—both those limits which are inherent in its natural resources, and those more elevated limits which we are able to attain through inputs of energy and tax dollars…The survival of Florida’s unique natural resources, the conditions of life for it’s people, the viability of its cities…depend on it."
Arthur R. Marshall, Director, Division of Applied Ecology, University of Miami, 1973, speech on ‘Energy and Growth’

"We have at most ten years—not ten years to decide upon action, but ten years to fundamentally alter the trajectory of global greenhouse emissions."

James Hansen, NASA climatologist, 2006

Floridians have long been aware of a growing environmental crisis in our state. Arthur Marshall’s speech could be delivered today and it would ring truer than he might have ever imagined. Florida’s citizens are now coming to accept that life as they know it may soon change in the densely populated areas of this peninsula. According to NASA climatologist Hansen, within the next decade our current direction will result in irreversible climate change across the planet, including specific consequences in Florida: rising sea levels, the end of the Gulf Stream, increased storm ferocity, droughts, flooding and uncontrollable wildfires. These changes are already underway.

The global scientific community has reached consensus that the rapid pace of climate change is the result of human activity. Industrialized society has extracted millions of years of stored energy from the earth in a single century, releasing globally harmful emissions into the atmosphere. For the public, the real and relevant debate is what we will do with this information.

The primary intent of this Green Paper is to outline the mounting global crisis of human-created climate change from the unique geographical and political perspective that exists in Florida. Scientists, scholars and activists have shown us that several significant areas of endeavor are driving climate change including transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and the energy industry. This paper will focus on the last factor: the generation and consumption of electrical power.

We choose to focus on electricity because (1) fossil fuel power plants represent the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) pollution and (2) power generation is the engine that allows us to drive industrial and residential development along an unsustainable path. Energy companies are among the largest, most powerful economic and political forces in Florida (as they are nationally and internationally.) We live in an energy empire, where the leverage of industry interests has far exceeded that of public interest. Recent changes in energy-related policy are being supported by Governor Crist and by emboldened grassroots groups. These changes present opportunities to alter the very foundations of our society. We are enthusiastically committed to being a part of that change—for the survival and betterment of our peninsula and our planet.

During the past year, Florida has made great strides toward addressing issues related to climate and energy with a refreshingly broad approach that encompasses international policy. In July 2007, at the Serve to Preserve Global Summit on Climate Change, Gov Crist committed to partnering with foreign countries to discuss and promote initiatives that broaden the Kyoto Protocol and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases beyond 2012. This is especially appropriate considering that the 2007 Florida Energy Commission’s Report to the Legislature acknowledged that Florida, as an individual entity, ranks as the world’s 26th worst GHG source.

This Green Paper will explore the following questions utilizing current data and documents:

I. What needs to be done?

II. What is now being done at the policy level in Florida?

III. What is possible?

IV. How can we achieve our goals?

V. What are some obstacles?

VI. How can we prepare for what’s coming?

VII. What do we have to gain?

We will provide examples of communities in Florida that are addressing these questions on a local level. We hope to offer guidance and encouragement to grassroots political activists, public employees and elected officials across Florida so they may guide industry leaders along our path to a sustainable future.

Read the entire paper here

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