History Professor on Dorian: Gov. DeSantis’s ‘Inaction’ on Fossil Fuels ‘Will Literally Sink Florida’

Dorian, Gov. DeSantis
ABC News

A professor at the University of Michigan who teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history and writes for numerous left-wing websites is calling on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to step down in the wake of Hurricane Dorian because his “inaction” on fossil fuels in the state is partly to blame for the hurricane and eventually “will literally sink” the state.

Claiming the hurricane grew bigger because of the “freakishly warm waters of the Caribbean,” Juan Cole said that events that only happened every 500 years are now taking place “several times a decade.”

But meteorologist Topper Shutt wrote in a 2018 article about the misuse of the term 100-year flood, for example, after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in 2017.

“A 500-year flood does not mean that an area will see a flood of that magnitude once in 500 years,” Shutt said. “It means that in any given year there is a .2 percent chance of a 500-year flood and likewise a 1 percent chance every year for a 100-year flood.”

“Remember, we are talking about billions of years of climate and usually just a hundred years of actual, observational data.”

Cole cites an editorial in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel that slammed the state for using fossil fuels.

“Most electricity in Florida is generated by fossil fuels including 61 percent from natural gas and 23 percent from coal. Natural gas is not clean,” the paper wrote. “It’s also a dangerous fossil fuel that emits about half the carbon into the atmosphere as coal.”

“DeSantis has done nothing to promote the electrification of transportation, such as requiring higher fuel efficiency,” Cole wrote. “The Sun-Sentinel adds, ‘Florida is ranked 47th nationally in the percentage of electricity generated from renewable energy at only 2 percent, mostly from biofuels, such as sugar cane waste.’”

But according to the federal U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), natural gas is one of the cleanest energy products: 

Burning natural gas for energy results in fewer emissions of nearly all types of air pollutants and carbon dioxide (CO2) than burning coal or petroleum products to produce an equal amount of energy. About 117 pounds of carbon dioxide are produced per million British thermal units (MMBtu) equivalent of natural gas compared with more than 200 pounds of CO2 per MMBtu of coal and more than 160 pounds per MMBtu of distillate fuel oil. The clean-burning properties of natural gas have contributed to increased natural gas use for electricity generation and as a transportation fuel for fleet vehicles in the United States.

Cole said DeSantis’s support for President Donald Trump is also a threat to Florida:

But remember, DeSantis is a big supporter of Trump, who is using the executive power of the presidency vastly to increase use of fossil fuels and carbon emissions nationwide. If you really cared about the environment you couldn’t ally with Trump.

As a result, the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the state “played a role in making Dorian into a raging calamity of a sort seldom seen in the state in recorded history.”

But according to AccuWeather, the deadliest hurricane in Florida happened long before climate change was invented.

“The 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane was one of the deadliest Atlantic hurricanes on record,” AccuWeather Meteorologist Dan Kottlowski said in an article in 2018. “The hurricane made landfall near West Palm Beach as a Category 4 hurricane.”

“It also is the seventh strongest hurricane to make landfall in the contiguous United States,” Kottlowski said.

The storm made landfall on Sept. 16 and 2,500 people died, many from drowning in Lake Okeechobee. In one town, Belle Glade, 611 people died.

Cole also blames the American lifestyle for weather events like Dorian.

“Gee, human beings are putting 37.1 billion tons of a heat-trapping gas into the atmosphere every year by driving our cars, cooling and heating our homes, making cement, and industrializing our agriculture,” Cole wrote. “A passenger car weighs two tons, so this is like shooting 20 billion exploding automobiles into the sky with catapults every year.”

“What human beings have done is to magnify hurricanes by causing billions of tons of heat-trapping gases to enter the atmosphere,” Cole wrote. “We have sort of acted on the climate the way radioactivity works on Dr. Bruce Banner (nowadays played by Mark Ruffalo), turning him into a large, green, angry incredible Hulk.”

Cole concludes by calling for DeSantis to step down and “just go home.”

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