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Tallahassee's Climate Apathy Drives South Florida Secession Movement

South Miami, population 11,657, has had enough with the Florida legislature's intransigence at combatting climate change, so it has launched a secession movement for 24 southern counties to secede from the northern part of the state.
October 24, 2014, 5am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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The City Commission of South Miami in Miami-Dade County, whose moniker is the City of Pleasant Living, passed a resolution on a 3-2 vote on Oct. 7 "in favor of splitting the state in half so South Florida would become the 51st state," writes Adrienne Cutway of the Orlando Sentinel 

"Vice Mayor Walter Harris said he created the proposal because of growing frustration of northern Florida’s apathy on the effects of climate change in South Florida," writes Sarah Harvard of The Huffington Post.

"We have to be able to deal directly with this environmental concern and we can’t really get it done in Tallahassee," Harris said. 

Mayor Philip Stoddard, who supported the resolution, was more illustrative in his explanation, according to Cutway.

“It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean," Stoddard said.

There are, in fact, wide disparities in how the northern and southern parts of the state would stand up to sea level rise as the sixth "whereas" of the resolution indicates [PDF].

Whereas, the average elevation of the present state of Florida is approximately 100 feet above sea level. North Florida is approximately 120 feet above sea level while the average elevation of South Florida is less than 50 feet with a very large portion of South Florida averaging less than 15 feet above sea level. Many sections of South Florida are 5 feet or less above sea level, including Monroe County and the Gold Coast, consisting of Palm Beach County, Broward County and Miami-Dade County.

Last year we noted that "four South Florida counties have formed an alliance to figure out solutions," short of seceding to deal with rising sea level. However, in a separate post we noted that Miami may be the most 'indefensible' U.S. city to deal with that challenge.

The resolution now goes to the "governing bodies of the proposed South Florida counties for consideration," writes Cutway. See the second 'whereas':

Whereas, the new proposed state of South Florida would have 24 counties ("which counties shall herein after be referred to as "South Florida"). These 24 counties are 35% of the total number of counties in the current state of Florida and they would comprise approximately 23,000 square miles in area. Thus, South Florida would be comprised of 39% of the area of the current state of Florida and would have a population of approximately 13,375,000 people which is 67% of the total population of the current state of Florida...

Cutway closes by writing, "In order for secession to be enacted, however, the measure would require electorate approval from the entire state and Congressional approval." A tough road to hoe.

South Miami has also enacted its own climate mitigation measures, including using smart growth to reduce carbon emissions. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council blogged last year (posted here) about how the South Miami Hometown district is a model for transitioning from auto-oriented suburban development to more sustainable and livable communities, 

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Published on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 in Sun Sentinel
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