Fighting climate change at home
Energy and Climate Summit
We’re facing a challenge more powerful than any humankind has ever faced — our climate is changing, and our weather is becoming more extreme. We’re facing more frequent and stronger hurricanes, severe heat, rising seas and deadly wildfires.
As state representative for coastal Pinellas County, I have seen how our community and state face an unprecedented threat from climate change. Our barrier island residents know that sea level rise isn’t a theory — it’s a reality. Florida’s economy is fueled by tourism and agriculture — and our two largest industries are dependent on our climate and environment. Almost 1,000 people move to Florida each day, so we must change how we use energy.
Meanwhile, national leaders turn their backs. The president quit the Paris climate agreement, stripped authority from states to regulate auto emissions, relaxed power plant regulations and rolled back key greenhouse gas rules.
This is the challenge of our generation. As the president hides from his responsibilities, it’s up to state-level leaders to act. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried is doing so by hosting the first state conference to address climate change since 2008. Fried’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services oversees the state’s Office of Energy, which is hosting the 2019 Energy and Climate Summit, which continues today through Thursday in Tampa. The conference will discuss ideas on energy efficiency, renewables and climate change. Commissioner Fried is giving our environment a seat at the table for the first time in years. As President Donald Trump ignores the crisis, my fellow state legislators and I will stand alongside state leaders like her, unafraid to take on this fight.
Jennifer Webb, Gulfport
The writer represents District 69 in the Florida House of Representatives.
Affordable family housing
Decade wait for public housing | Oct. 1
As a Volunteer Child Advocate I watch families trying to get their lives together but come to a dead end on affordable housing. The lists are closed or there are no vouchers. As a part of their case plans, safe housing is a must to achieve reunification with their children, and even though they are working this continues to be one of their biggest complaints. This is a true indicator of how “healthy” our economy is and how policies of no more taxes and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations affect the working class. The working poor pay their fair share of taxes but receive the least services. They are not looking for handouts but a place to raise their families.
Diane Pearson, Dunedin
Transit choices we don’t have
Get used to long commute times | Column, Oct. 1
I just returned from three weeks in Europe, so this column caught my attention. We visited Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, and Porto, to the north. The plethora of options for mass transit were stunning: traditional bus, electric bus, trolleys, trains, ferries, bikes, e-bikes and e-scooters. All reasonably priced. A larger network of trains links the small towns and the larger cities. This in a country still recovering from 45 years of dictatorship and having to build this infrastructure on winding ancient streets, over rivers and through mountains. Last year in Germany and Amsterdam we saw the same opportunities, while we in Florida still rely almost exclusively on cars.
Douglas Wilkin, St. Petersburg