Given that the Democratic Party denies the need for a debate dedicated to the topic of climate change, the location of the first Democratic debate — Miami — is ironic, to say the least. No other American city is feeling the brunt of climate change on a daily basis the way that Miami is — from fires in the Everglades (yes – you are reading that correctly) to record-breaking heat (this past Sunday) to daily flooding to hundreds of million dollars in upgrades to infrastructure, Miamians are already dealing with the climate crisis. But will the candidates get to discuss this important issue beyond the basics of support or opposition for the Green New Deal and re-entry into the Paris Agreement? That is THE question.
Why This Matters: As one Miami resident, whose home was severely damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017, explained to The New York Times, “It’s a country problem. We have to help pay where there’s tornadoes and there’s fires. There’s a mix of Democrats and Republicans on my street, and we all suffered the same amount.” What residents here want to know is what are these candidates going to do about it. Florida is ground zero for both climate change and Presidential politics. This is the moment to ensure that the locals and people all over the country who are concerned about this issue learn more about where each of the candidates stands on climate issues like how much to spend on infrastructure to ensure coastal resilience, how to protect people in the face of increased fire and severe storm risk, and how to confront the health issues that result from excessive heat. We hope the many MSNBC debate moderators will make the most of it.
The Public Wants More Climate Policy Discussion. Why? Because climate change is costing them real money.
- In the Miami-Fort Lauderdale area, 49 percent of respondents to a survey said they had made physical changes to their homes in the past year to protect against sea-level rise, flooding or extreme weather, as compared with 30 percent elsewhere in the state.
- The City of Miami in 2017 passed a $400 million “Miami Forever” bond program to finance climate change resiliency projects, including $192 million for seawalls, pumps and similar projects — but that debt will have to be repaid by the taxpayers.
- Miami Beach has also already begun spending up to $500 million to raise roads, install pumps and do similar work over five years, according to The New York Post.
Recent polling shows that 71 percent of Florida voters, including 85 percent of Democrats, support government action to address climate change, according to a survey by Climate Nexus in partnership with the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication. And some are not about to let the Democrats forget it — on Thursday, local activists plan to stage a rally near the Democrats’ debate venue to demand climate action.
To Go Deeper: Here, again, is our climate cheat sheet for Night 1 of the debate.