Many of us who are current or former Florida residents have been aghast at the actions of Rick Scott and his wrecking crew. I can't -- and won't -- speak for my compatriot Florida "ex-pats", but maybe things are starting to look up, just a bit.
Follow me over the orange arabesque for the heart of the matter.
Florida has a long history of environmental protectionism. As a result, there's some prime real estate that has the wrecking crew salivating over the prospect of undoing 40 years' worth of conservation. That wrecking crew is part and parcel of how Rick Scott got elected governor of my home state in the first place.
But now Mr. Scott and horde have gone and done it: they've roused the sleeping lions. Yes, those men and women who worked so hard to preserve and protect the fragile Florida ecosystem from over-development, over-engineering, and the ravages of greeed are back, with a vengeance. One of them just fired a shot across Scott's bow.
Florida clings to the edge of the most slippery slope in its history.
Thrust like a finger from the nation's knuckle into the stormy Caribbean Sea, balanced on limestone and sand, peninsular Florida channels tar balls, red tides and assorted effluvia from the Gulf of Mexico past Cuba into the Atlantic Ocean.
Yet its most dangerous threats are not environmental. They are political, and as pervasive as sandspurs. [emphasis added]
I worry about my native state and fear too few residents of this fragile and fabulous state share my concern. Many recognize the threat, but can't fathom how to turn the tide — of avarice, greed and political mendacity — that rushes to pluck Florida like low-hanging fruit from the limbs of protective laws and regulations.
21st-century barbarians have trashed comprehensive planning, gutted regional water management and targeted what they call "surplus" land. That is land acquired by the state to preserve its environmental values — those vital assets that grace tourist brochures with blue skies, clear, sparkling water and white, shining beaches.
Led by charlatans, impatient and politically connected citizens threaten to throttle the Florida they covet, not recognizing their state — weakened by a failed economy — is nearly out of promise.
Former Gov. Bob Graham, a Florida native who loves this state, has sounded the alarm.
At 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Graham will convene the Florida Conservation Coalition at the Old Capitol in Tallahassee. You are invited; your voice is needed; consider this your ticket to participate.
I encourage you all to read the entire op-ed. The author of this piece, Allan Horton, is an environmental journalism stalwart who took on the phosphate mining industry back in the day. He goes on to point out all the landmark conservation measures put into place by Bob Graham and others since the 1970s. It is an impressive list. I grew up watching it all being put carefully into place. And now it is all being rolled back by Rick Scott and his henchmen for the sole purpose of satisfying the developers' lust for building mirages.
Yes, I said mirages. All those lush golf courses, all those beautifully landscaped subtropical resorts are built on what is essentially a giant sandbar. Water pumped up from the aquifers that is poured out onto the land swiftly sluices through the silica and limestone and is gone. And these mirages are turning Florida into a desert below the trucked-in topsoil. Once the water is out of these fragile aquifers, the saline intrusion begins. It's been going on in the Keys and Dade County for decades, and more coastal counties -- where the bulk of the population is clustered -- are seeing it happen there too.
There's a reason why we like our scrub, our hammocks of land in the savannahs, our meandering rivers. That landscape is the real Florida. They help preserve the state's water, and oddly enough also help ensure livelihoods from the land: farming (just don't buy the commercially grown tomatoes), ranching, and ecotourism. It is worth waging a political war to save and protect. If you are in Florida and you can get to Tallahassee Wednesday -- yes, this Wednesday -- go to the Old Capitol, stand and be counted.
And so it begins......