May 18, 2024

I lately had a 3 week vacation in Florida with my household. My 17 12 months previous son is inquisitive about rocketry and my spouse is inquisitive about wildlife. We obtained to see loads of each and had a good time. There’s a lot to love about America and Individuals. However the sheer waste of sources on present in all places was fairly stunning. In Europe we completely aren’t doing sufficient to guard the atmosphere and avert the approaching local weather disaster (I flew to Florida and drove a automotive there, so I’m no environmental saint myself). In Florida they don’t look like even making an attempt.

Let’s begin with plastic. Every little thing appears to be product of plastic, wrapped in plastic or each. This can be a resort breakfast for the three of us. That could be a severe quantity of plastic.

Plastic cutlery is the order of the day. And even the plastic cutlery is individually wrapped in plastic! The very least expensive resorts within the UK provide you with steel cutlery.

Apples have been individually wrapped in plastic.

We even noticed oranges wrapped in plastic. Nature already offered oranges with their very own wrapper! I don’t keep in mind the plastic concern being as unhealthy once I travelled by way of Wyoming, Utah and Colorado in 1999. Perhaps it’s a hangover from COVID?

After which there are the automobiles. We did a fast casual survey and over half the autos on the highway have been large SUVs and much more large pickup vans, with macho names like ‘Raptor’ and ‘Titan’. The very low tax on petrol/fuel (by European requirements) makes this doable. These pickup vans are clearly getting used principally by individuals from the suburbs who don’t want an enormous pickup truck. We employed a ‘mid-size’ (however massive by European requirements) SUV ourselves as, in a earlier journey, we had discovered it fairly intimidating to drive a European sized saloon automotive on American roads.

The entrance of those pick-up vans is so excessive {that a} pedestrian hit by one is certainly going beneath, slightly than over. Particularly the ridiculous ‘raised’ pickup vans, that are quite common.

Not that there are a lot of pedestrians in Florida, in fact. You might be anticipated to have a automotive and drive in all places. You possibly can even eat your breakfast in your automotive.

The breakfast drive-thru queue at Fort Myers Dunkin Donuts.

The supply of pavements/sidewalks is decidely missing and public transport is just about non-existent. If you’re too poor to personal a automotive, exhausting luck. There did appear to be some cycle lanes, however they ran alongside main roads and weren’t segregated from all the big autos. They appeared totally terrifying. No marvel no-one was utilizing them. Maybe cyclists had tried, however they’d all been run over.

In all places has aircon and all of it appears to run 24×7. Usually with doorways left open. While you flip as much as your resort/motel room, the aircon is operating and it doesn’t flip off while you take your card out of the slot to depart the room. It has in all probability been operating in each room because the resort was constructed, no matter whether or not the rooms are occupied or not. Heaven forbid that you need to have to attend 2 minutes for the aircon to chill the room down.

This is likely to be okay if the aircon was powered by photo voltaic. Nevertheless it isn’t. We hardly noticed a photo voltaic panel in our complete journey to ‘The Sunshine State’. That is exhausting to fathom, as there are photo voltaic panels in all places in temperate and cloudy Britain. Once we requested one of many locals why she didn’t have photo voltaic, she instructed us that solar energy was penalised by the ability firm, so it wasn’t price it. We didn’t see a single wind turbine both.

The irony is that Florida is without doubt one of the most susceptible locations on earth to local weather change. It’s already ridiculously scorching in the summertime. Just a few extra levels of additional temperature will make it insufferable exterior your air conditioned room or automobile. Greater temperatures means extra aircon, which suggests extra carbon within the ambiance, which suggests even greater temperatures. Florida has a mean elevation of just 31m/100ft above sea stage. The vast majority of Miami-Dade county is less than 2m/6ft above sea level (presumably much less, relying on when you find yourself studying this). The one factor we noticed that appeared like a hill in Florida, was in truth an enormous landfill. Most likely principally filled with single-use plastic cutlery. The wealthy are already beginning to transfer to greater floor in Miami. Perhaps solely the landfills can be left above sea stage by the tip of the century? Florida can be recurrently devastated by hurricanes. The devastation left by 2022 category 5 hurricane Ian remains to be very apparent and category 4 hurricane Idalia hit a couple of days after we left. Rising sea temperatures can solely result in extra devastating hurricanes.

And Florida isn’t even one of many worst offenders, putting thirty ninth out of the 50 US states with round 10.8 metric tons of CO2 per capita per year. Partly as a result of lack of any heavy business. The worst offending state within the USA is Wyoming with a whopping 104.5 metric tons of CO2 per capita per 12 months. Throughout the nation Individuals common 15.3 tons per capita per year, in comparison with 5.6 tons for the UK. And the USA isn’t even the worst offender. Qatar clocks in at 38.1 tons per capita per 12 months.

Local weather change is just not some minor inconvenience the place we lose a couple of obscure species of frogs and must put on a bit extra sunscreen. We might be speaking about widescale crop failures and excessive climate occasions making giant elements of the globe unliveable. Resulting in famine and migration on a scale means past something now we have seen up to now. Given the seriousness of the state of affairs it’s miserable to see such profligate waste. My concern is that different individuals will have a look at locations like Florida and assume “why am I even making an attempt to do the correct factor? Have a look at them!” and never even attempt.

We’re in bother. The present system of sovereign states with politicians pushed by short-term targets is poorly positioned to repair long-term, international issues. And the billionaires are usually not going to save lots of us. They’re the primary beneficiaries of the present system and they’re going to use their cash and energy to maintain it that means. If we allow them to. Geo-engineering is vastly dangerous. Carbon sequestration appears to be like unlikely to make any significant distinction. Shifting to Mars is a pipedream for 99.9999% of the inhabitants. That is the one planet within the universe now we have advanced to dwell on. We’re caught right here with the mess now we have created in a sluggish movement tragedy of the commons. Particular person selection is just not going to chop it. We’d like deep structural change. A lot greater taxes on fossil fuels and fewer huge pickup vans for a begin. We have to get our act collectively, and shortly. For ourselves and our youngsters. However, having seen the state of affairs in Florida, I don’t maintain out a lot hope.