By Jim Bleyer
On Monday, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn not only blew off two prominent environmentally-conscious organizations, but thousands of residents and businesses as well as his city’s future.
Buckhorn chose to remain out of step with his party, modern science, latge cities, and most Floridians when he rejected pleas from the Sierra Club and Organize Florida to sign a pledge that would steer the city on a 100 percent clean energy course.
Activists called on Buckhorn to join 15 other Florida mayors and hundreds more nationwide in taking action that would help mitigate rising sea levels.
Instead, the environmentalists received an innocuous statement from Buckhorn’s office and his spokesperson Ashley Bauman. “We do a lot in this city on sustainability,” she said, adding “we really appreciate the work you’re doing.”
Buckhorn’s office frequently reminds the local press that he doesn’t sign pledges but he signed this one:
Political priorities override official ones for the faux Democrat who has his party’s local officialdom gnashing their teeth.
The conspicuous irony is that Tampa is one of ten cities in the world most vulnerable to higher sea levels with Davis Island, where Buckhorn resides, as one of the three or four most flood prone areas in the city, according to Kent Bailey, chairman of the Sierra Club’s Tampa chapter.
Dr. Margaret Davidson of NOAA says sea levels could rise by roughly 3 meters or 9 feet by 2050-2060 in the Insurance Journal. In that article, Dr. Davidson explains the contradictions of recent data with published reports saying “By the time we get out the report, it’s actually synthesizing data from about a decade ago.”
This is why the City of Tampa Sea Level Rise Vulnerability Assessment includes “projections” that are, below current water levels. Like Buckhorn, these statistics are out of step.
Leading up to Monday’s city hall drama, Organize Florida asserted that Buckhorn’s recent pledge to uphold the Paris Climate Accord is “more symbolic than actionable.” Fortunately for residents in other cities within a conch’s toss from the Florida coastline, other local governments are being pro-active.
On Monday night, the Sarasota County Commission, representing a slight Republican majority, voted unanimously to setting a community-wide goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. The effort was spearheaded by the Sarasota Climate Justice Coalition, whose petition received more than 2,000 signatures in favor of the initiative, according to organizers. The resolution set an additional target of transitioning municipal operations to 100 percent clean energy by 2030.
We are a peninsula with rising oceans around us, but with renewable energy, we can minimize those rises,” Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin said during the meeting. “This is certainly in our best interest and certainly helps preserve our quality of life, so everyone can contribute.”
Last week, John Holic, mayor of heavily Republican Venice, signed the agreement.
St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, in a Father’s Day-oriented column in St. Petersblog, stated, “I’ll also be reflecting on my obligation as a father to protect my children from growing threats like climate change.”. Kriseman was the first Florida mayor to sign the 100 percent Clean Energy Pledge.
Tampa Bay Beat last week suggested Buckhorn sign the pledge for the sake of his two young daughters and their contemporaries. The mayor not only refused to sign the pledge, but sent out his city-paid flak to face the environmental organizers and spew swill
(The author is a member of the Sierra Club)