Alan S. Miller
4 min readMay 16, 2024

Florida: The new face of climate denialism

“Anti-woke” legislation increases the risks of climate disaster

Key West Florida Hurricane Dennis. Photo credit: Pixabay

No state may be more at risk from climate change than Florida. One million Florida properties are projected to become chronically flooded, putting at risk nearly 30% of local revenues for more than half of the state’s municipalities. Some 2.4 million people and 1.3 million homes in the state sit within 4 feet of the local high tide line, an elevation that implies exposure to storm surges, nearly half the number at risk nationwide. Along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts of Florida, the land surface is also sinking. If the oceans and atmosphere continue to warm, sea level along the Florida coast is likely to rise one to four feet in the next century. If these forecasts become reality, the sea levels would displace millions of the state’s coastal population, many low-income and least able to relocate. In the largest county in the state, Miami-Dade, about 800,000 residents are at risk, potentially making a large portion of the county uninhabitable.

Every major hurricane to hit Florida since 2005 has strengthened rapidly consistent with rising ocean temperatures. Hurricane Idalia, which hit Florida in 2023, went from a tropical storm to a Category 4 hurricane within 24 hours due to record high water temperatures. In 2022, Hurricane Ian — which went from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane in 36 hours right before landfall in southwest Florida — became the second deadliest storm this century (after Katrina) and the costliest hurricane in Florida’s history. Predictions for this year are for an even more active hurricane season.

Extreme temperatures are another expected climate impact. From 1981 to 2010, Floridians experienced, on average, high temperatures exceeding 95°F roughly 7 days per year. Under moderate and high emissions scenarios, in the next two decades this number is projected to grow to 22 and 26 days per year, respectively. Record heat has caused coral mortality off the coast of the Florida Keys and a surge in heat-related deaths. Partly in response to growing losses, property insurers are leaving the state in droves and premiums have tripled in the past five years.

You might think in response to this nightmarish state of affairs, the state would be doing its best to promote climate action. While Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and others acknowledge that human activities are a “factor” contributing to climate change, they then find comfort in the fact extreme weather events have happened before and question the need for action. Incredibly, Florida is adopting one policy after another designed to dismiss and oppose measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions:

· Governor DeSantis has signed legislation to prohibit the use of ESG factors (criteria for performance related to the environment and societal impacts) in state and local government investment decisions and government contracting processes.

· He has banned local governments from mandating heat protections for farm workers and adopted a measure bolstering the dominance of cars by discouraging bike lanes and banning advertising and dark window tinting on city buses.

· The state has also banned lab grown meat, a low carbon alternative to conventional meat, approved by the FDA but still expensive and not widely available.

· DeSantis last year turned down more than $350 million in federal funding for energy efficiency initiatives under the Inflation Reduction Act.

· The state Department of Education has approved classroom use of videos that contain climate disinformation and distort climate science.

And there is more in the works. Legislation signed by DeSantis on May 15th by DeSantis will eliminate mentions of climate change in state laws, ban offshore wind turbines (there are none in the state), and end several programs promoting green or renewable energy. It also will ban state and local agencies from booking meetings at hotels and buildings certified as “green lodging,” while repealing a requirement that state agencies, public universities and local governments lease hybrid and electric vehicles and cap state spending on public transit.

Ironically, while not acknowledging climate change, Florida is adopting costly measures to help residents respond to the impacts of climate change. The state’s $1.8 billion Resilient Florida program provides communities with grant funding for vulnerability assessments and resilience projects. New legislation provides up to $10,000 matching grants for homeowners and condominium associations to fortify properties against the growing threat of windstorms. Miami and other Florida cities most exposed to sea level rise and storm surges are debating construction of massive sea walls, removal of septic tanks, and other measures that will cost billions of dollars — with unclear effectiveness. As climate change education advocate Susan Glickman has said, Florida’s approach “is like walking into the bathroom and seeing the tub overflowing, then taking all the towels to mop up the water, but never turning the water off.”

Governor DeSantis and the Florida legislature have become the new face of climate denial. The state is doing everything possible to slow the adoption of greenhouse gas reduction measures, not to protect its fossil fuel production — the state has none — but purely for ideological reasons. Florida’s anti-climate policies reflect the sad reality that attitudes toward climate change have become highly partisan; a recent poll found 82 percent of Democrats see climate change as a critical threat, versus just 16 percent of Republicans. Yet the science is increasingly clear: Florida will suffer enormously from the impacts of climate change, whatever the beliefs of their political leaders.

Alan S. Miller

Alan S. Miller is co-author of “Cut Super Climate Pollutants Now!”. His full bio and links to writing are available at