In the southern United States, calls for secession have rarely, if ever, come from the progressive political circles. Earlier this month, the government of South Miami, Florida proved itself an exception to that rule when it passed a resolution to separate southern and northern Florida.
The cause of this schism? Climate change.
The reasons why a town from this region in particular made this headline grabbing call were readily apparent. South Florida would likely be one of the most impacted places in the mainland U.S. by climate change. Sensing that the politics of north Florida are unlikely to change in a way that favors south Florida’s environmental interests, South Miami pushed to leave entirely.
The proposed name of the new state would (inventively) be South Florida, and according to the resolution, it would be home to about 67 percent of Florida’s current population. The resolution recognizes that the southern half of the current state is in immediate danger from climate change.
Over the next few decades, the people living and working on the relatively low ground level of southern Florida will have to contend with rising sea levels. It will challenge infrastructure and natural habitats alike. The porous rock under southern Florida’s surface could bring waters up to flood far inland. Furthermore, the resolution states that as sea water comes up the shores, it could threaten the fresh water supply of the region.
Meanwhile, many people in Florida’s government have been reluctant, or outright opposed, to act on climate change. Even Florida’s current Governor Rick Scott has been somewhat tepid about taking an official position on the issue.
“South Florida’s situation is very precarious and in need of immediate attention. Many of the issues facing South Florida are not political, but are now significant safety issues,” the resolution stated.
Of course, this resolution did absolutely nothing by way of actually seceding. For a state, or a region within a state, to secede, the entire state of Florida would have to become involved, and then the U.S. Congress would have to approve it, something that the resolution acknowledged.
This resolution merely expressed a message, although it seemed to express that message sincerely. The people in this city’s government felt that the state of Florida is not doing enough to protect itself from the imminent threat of climate change.