Friday, December 15, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Urgent call to action on climate

A new federal report released this week underscores two key points on climate change. First, the impact is being felt now, and the responsibility to act cannot be sloughed off to future generations. Second, rising temperatures have real implications for everything from where and how we live to global security and the safety of the food and water supply. The report should especially motivate coastal states such as Florida to get serious about slowing man-made contributions to the crisis.

The report, the Third National Climate Assessment, is the latest in a series that leaves no doubt on the science behind climate change and the serious risks it poses across the globe. Rising temperatures of up to 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century have brought a host of changes: longer and hotter summers, shorter winters, an increase in torrential rains and spikes in the severity of algae blooms, wildfires, heat waves and seasonal allergies.

The report highlighted the changes that warming over the past century has wrought across the country. Glaciers are melting in the North. Heavy rains in the East are threatening urban flood barriers. In the Southwest, water shortages are expected to worsen as severe drought pits the needs of farmers, animals, city dwellers and industry against each other. And across the West, long heat waves are worsening conditions for human and animal life and agriculture.

Coastal states are particularly vulnerable, and the Tampa Bay area is labeled as one of three in Florida especially at risk to rising sea levels. With Florida's major cities and infrastructure at lower elevations, roads, railways, ports and airports, and gas and water facilities are threatened by rising sea levels and the damage that comes with extreme weather. An upcoming report will outline how state and local governments can respond, from hardening defenses against coastal flooding to moving highways, hospitals and other major public facilities further inland.

President Barack Obama was right to use the findings to stress the urgency to act. Though his administration has worked to cut greenhouse gas emissions through higher fuel-efficiency standards for vehicles and new emissions limits on power plants, the federal government still lacks a comprehensive, forward-looking approach that targets both conservation and the production of cleaner energy. A recent U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the administration's authority to curb cross-state air pollution should embolden the White House to propose tough new limits this summer on the emissions from dirty, coal-fired power plants.

State and local governments also should take action now. This should be an issue in the governor's race, because the next governor cannot continue to ignore the impact of climate change. Florida should promote clean-energy alternatives, use building and zoning codes to protect vital infrastructure and ensure that natural habitats are preserved so the state has adequate water resources and flood control. Tampa Bay officials ranging from St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman to Pinellas County Commissioner Ken Welch have pledged to make addressing climate change a priority, and they should follow through.

Those public officials who continue to deny science and refuse to invest in public policy to respond to climate change should not be allowed to leave it to future generations. This report is a wake-up call and a stark reminder that the impact is being felt now and will only get worse.

Comments
Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

Editorial: Rubio should make good his threat to oppose tax cuts without changes

For once, it would be nice to see Sen. Marco Rubio stand up as the independent leader he aspires to become. For once, the Florida Republican should hold his position rather than bow to pragmatic politics. Rubio can stick with his threat Thursday to v...
Published: 12/14/17

Another voice: A shameful anniversary

Josephine "Joey" Gay should have celebrated her 12th birthday this week. She should have been surrounded by friends and family in a place festooned with purple, her favorite color.Chase Kowalski should have been working toward a Boy Scout merit badge...
Published: 12/13/17
Updated: 12/14/17
Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Editorial: Congress should block efforts to expand offshore drilling

Timing is everything, and Sen. Bill Nelson seized the right moment this week to call on his colleagues to pass legislation he filed earlier this year that would block the Trump administration from opening additional areas to offshore drilling. With t...
Published: 12/13/17

Another voice: Alabama picks an honorable man

THANK YOU, Alabama.In Tuesday’s special election, the state by a narrow margin chose to spare the nation the indignity of seating an accused child molester in the U.S. Senate. Though the stain of electing Republican Roy Moore would have sullied Alaba...
Published: 12/12/17
Updated: 12/13/17
Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

Editorial: Tax cuts aren’t worth harm to Tampa Bay

As congressional negotiators hammer out the details on an enormous, unnecessary tax cut, the potential negative impact on Tampa Bay and Florida is becoming clearer. The harmful consequences stretch far beyond adding more than $1.4 trillion to the fed...
Published: 12/12/17

Another voice: Privacy in the internet age

How much information about you is on your cellphone? Likely the most intimate details of your life: photographs, internet searches, text and email conversations with friends and colleagues. And though you might not know it, your phone is constantly c...
Published: 12/10/17
Updated: 12/11/17
Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Editorial: Grand jury could force reforms of juvenile justice system

Confronted with documentation of sanctioned brutality and sexual abuse in Florida’s juvenile detention centers, the reaction from Gov. Rick Scott’s administration was defensive and obtuse. So it’s welcome news that Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine...
Published: 12/08/17
Updated: 12/11/17

Editorial: U.S. House sides with NRA over state’s rights on concealed weapons permits

With the horror of the mass shootings at a Las Vegas country music concert and a small Texas church still fresh, the U.S. House finally has taken action on guns. But the bill it passed last week won’t make Americans safer from gun violence. It is an ...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

Editorial: Hillsborough cannot afford pay raises for teachers

There is no satisfaction for anyone in the standoff over pay raises between the Hillsborough County School District and its teachers. Most teachers across the nation already are underpaid, but this district simply cannot afford the raises teachers ex...
Published: 12/07/17
Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

Editorial: Impact of Water Street project extends beyond buildings

With a buildout of $3 billion encompassing entire city blocks, it’s obvious that Jeff Vinik’s plans will change the look and feel of downtown Tampa. But the Tampa Bay Lightning owner unveiled a broader vision last week that reflects how far the impac...
Published: 12/06/17
Updated: 12/08/17