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Tuesday, Jun 19, 2018
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Steve Otto Columns

Otto: Heeding the warning on warming

The White House sent a bunch of emails across the country this week, including one to my column mailbag.

I get quite a bit of mail from the White House, mostly from underlings but occasionally some from the Big Guy himself and even from the Mrs.

So far, none of the messages has asked my advice on anything. In fact, all of them until this week have asked for money.

This time the administration sent results of yet another study on climate change. The National Climate Assessment includes a long commercial on what the Obama administration has done to clean up things, which apparently doesn't include the global road trips taken by the Obamas and associates in non-hybrid jets.

My email from Washington focused on what is happening and going to happen in the South in general and Florida in particular. It's not a pretty picture.

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The study says it's hot and going to get hotter.

“Atlanta, Miami, New Orleans and Tampa have already had increases in the number of days with temperatures exceeding 95 degrees, during which the number of deaths is above average.

“There is an imminent threat of increased inland flooding ...” — some of Florida's top tourist draws, including the Everglades and the Florida Keys, are threatened by sea-level rise. The number of Category 4 and Category 5 hurricanes in the North Atlantic and the amount of heavy rains have increased in recent decades, with more increases are projected.

The report goes on, although it skips over the greening effect that is destroying the Florida orange business. Nor does it mention the boneheads of the Florida Legislature who continue to allow Florida's rivers and springs to decay, or the effects of increased pumping that is likely to turn Central Florida into a giant sinkhole.

Climate change has replaced Bigfoot and UFOs in fact-or-fiction discussions.

Like almost everything else, it also has been swallowed up in political debate — with the right-wing side of the country pretty much suggesting global warming is fear-mongering and the left-wing crowd equally as strident in claiming the sky is falling.

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I tend to be in the “sky is falling” group.

I'm not looking forward to the coming hurricane season and five or six months of boarding up the house every time one of those big honkers comes blowing our way out of the Atlantic or Caribbean.

It does feel hotter, but I can recall being a boy when there was little air-conditioning ... sleeping on the porch with a fan about three inches from my nose and listening to the thunder boomers that seemed to blow in every night in the summer.

But times change, and numbers don't lie.

When my dad was transferred to South Dakota, I found myself under a pile of blankets at night. In the morning, the way out of the house was the back window because the front was buried in snow. To me, that was what climate change was all about.

I'll be honest. I don't think much of anything worth its salt has come out of the current administration, but I suspect it is correct on this one.

More than that, it's an opportunity for the left and the right to talk reasonably about issues and find solutions in compromises and joint efforts.

Of course, it may be a cold day in you-know-where before that happens, but there's a chance.

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