There Goes the Neighborhood

There Goes the Neighborhood

The president sent out his change-of-address cards the way he sends out everything else—via Twitter. I’m sure Trump has thought about the tax implications of his move and also the optics. It sends a signal to his staunchest supporters that he’d rather hang loose with the beer-and-fishing set than to cozy up with the cigar-and-martini crowd, but no one can live in Florida without facing some hard truths about the climate.

Florida, more than any state in the nation, is suffering the cataclysmic effects of climate change. Earlier this year, the Tampa Bay Times reported that Florida needs to spend about $76 billion to protect against rising sea waters. That’s only a few billion dollars short of the entire budget for the state in an ordinary year. So how does a state with no personal income tax and no state income tax double its budget to keep everyone who lives there from being swept into the Gulf of Mexico? I don’t know.

Florida now has to brace for more and bigger hurricanes each year. According to the Miami Herald, by 2045 more than 64,000 homes in Florida will face flooding every other week. Can you imagine holding a mortgage on a home that is underwater half the time? Some Floridians are already abandoning their oceanfront homes to foreclosure, because years of dramatic flooding has drastically decreased property values. That’s only going to get worse as our climate woes increase.

And they will increase, because we are not doing the things we need to do to mitigate climate catastrophe. Trump has called climate change a hoax. He pulled America out of the Paris Climate Accord, and he’s been rolling back environmental policy regulations. His administration has made it easier for companies to pollute our waters and our air. He does all of this, despite the mounting evidence that we’re heading toward a global crisis. And that crisis is already on display in states like Florida.

Look, Trump is an old man, but his children and grandchildren will suffer. By the time Junior is his father’s age, drought and insect outbreaks will wipe out much of the nation’s agriculture and food production. By the time Eric hits retirement, much of our nation will suffer from extended heat waves and flooding from torrential rains. By the time Ivanka is cuddling her grandchildren, wildfires, like the ones currently raging in California, will be a constant threat, killing wildlife, destroying property, and putting our food supply in peril. By the time Tiffany, who was born in Florida, passes the bar exam, we could all be struggling to find enough clean drinking water. By the time Barron retires, Mar-a-Lago could be fully under water.

So, move to Florida, Mr. Trump. Enjoy the tax breaks and the sunshine and the excellent food and the music and the beautiful views. Enjoy the wildlife and the sunrises and the sunsets. Enjoy the friendly people. Enjoy it all while it lasts, but know that it’s fleeting. Florida is drowning and you’ve spent the last three years hastening its death. Don’t be surprised when Floridians sour on you in the same way New Yorkers have, because you and your fellow climate science deniers are putting all of your neighbors at risk.

You can move to Florida, but you can’t outrun the facts. Climate change is real and you have the power to set policy and hire people who will work to reverse the damage we’ve already done. If you won’t do it for all of us, do it for your own kids and grandkids. I bet future Trumps would rather have clean air and water than a pile of shadily earned cash and nearly worthless real estate.

Try to be a better neighbor in Florida and in the rest of the world. We’d all appreciate it.

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Tiffany Quay Tyson

THE PAST IS NEVER is the winner of the Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction, the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize, the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction, and the Mississippi Author Award for Adult Fiction (selected by the Mississippi Library Association). This southern gothic novel steeped in local lore was selected as an "Okra Pick" by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Tyson's debut novel THREE RIVERS was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and now lives, writes, and teaches in Denver, Colorado.
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One thought on “There Goes the Neighborhood

  1. Your assessment of Florida’s future, as well as the future of Trump’s kids, grand kids, and great grand kids (and others) seems on the mark. Thanks for sharing this timely warning to Floridians, those who might be living in harm’s way; and also to those who question or deny the proven science about global warming and the mounting disasters around the world, especially rising sea-levels that will gradually inundate all low-lying coastlines. Trump, his administration, loyal lawmakers, and gullible supporters may never accept this reality (truth), but as you suggest, their descendants surely will–and they won’t be happy about it either.

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