The Political Red Tide
Updated: Mar 13, 2019
By: Andy Shodell
PTS Falconer Staff
October 31, 2018
Florida’s beaches are degrading quickly thanks to the red tide. Recent developments make this problem personal to each student at Palmer Trinity and each resident of Greater Miami.
On October 4, researchers found -- for the first time -- a presence of the red tide on the east coast of Florida, affecting Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, and other beaches all the way up to Palm Beach County, where a health advisory was recently issued. An entire group of beach-goers in Jupiter came down with cold symptoms and wheezing after swimming in the red tide infected water. Beaches in Dade County, thanks to Mayor Carlos Gimenez, are now also frequently closed because the ocean is too dangerous to swim in. Sea life is already experiencing detrimental impacts from the red tide; dead fish can be seen floating as dead crabs pockmark Florida’s once exuberant beaches.
The organism responsible is Karenia brevis, a single-celled dinoflagellate potent in the Gulf of Mexico, infecting beaches in Mexico, Texas, and now -- thanks to the apathy of corporations perpetuating the problem -- our home state of Florida; the culprit responsible for allowing corporations to get out of hand with their environmental impact is current Governor and senate hopeful Rick Scott. Scott stripped environmental regulations implemented to prevent this type of disaster, supposedly to benefit the economy and power of large corporations -- but the effect has instead damaged every Floridian’s well-being by attacking the most popular tourist staple while causing locals to become sick.
Scott, like many politicians from both major parties -- and humans in general -- has made mistakes. That fact itself is understandable. However, the true blame lies in his neglect to reverse his detrimental and inconsiderate decisions. In fact, Scott continues to invest in companies that deny the presence of human induced climate change; he has even gone so far as to ban Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official documents. This politically charged and financially backed attack of the environment at the expense of future generations’ health is inexcusable. The most effective way to be heard is at the polls.
Political participation in midterm election years is historically lower than during presidential elections, but they matter equally -- if not more. The government’s system of checks and balances gives the senate power to check a president and confirm lifetime judicial nominees; additionally, this election cycle, the highest office in the state of Florida -- the governorship -- is contended for by two polar opposites: one candidate plans to continue Governor Scott’s apathy towards the environment, and the other wants to implement environmental protections; one candidate intends for the growth of large corporations at the expense of Floridians, while the other supports large scale economic reform that would prevent companies from becoming too big to be regulated; one candidate will usher in scientists’ dire predictions of environmental havoc, and the other candidate will fight tooth and nail to change the current narrative of environmental sustainability to support prosperity.
Scott leaves behind his gubernatorial position to run for the senate against former astronaut, veteran, lifelong advocate, and Florida’s senior senator of 18 years, Bill Nelson. Nelson has co-sponsored and supported legislation to reform environmental regulations, and is a well known supporter of the Everglades.
On November 6, all of these candidates will be on the ballot -- the gubernatorial race, Senate race, House races, local positions, and proposed amendments to Florida’s Constitution. Perhaps this explains why early voting numbers for this midterm election have kept up with the numbers two years ago in a presidential election year; this is an indescribably important year. A lot is on the line. We have the opportunity to directly influence decisions regarding our health, our safety, our beaches, our economy, our wildlife, and our future. The power of democracy is our last hope before the coming years see inexorable and permanent damage to Florida’s ecosystems. If there ever was a last minute to act and make lasting positive changes to how we treat the environment, that minute is now.