Down here in the Sunshine State of Florida, things aren't so sunny these days. Oh, if you listen to Governor Scott talk about growth and development opportunities and all of the jobs he is bringing here, you'd think those who live in Florida would be ecstatic.
In reality, most of us are anything but ecstatic and take a look just below the surface, in fact, you don't even have to look very deep and you'll see what's happening. The Governor's grandiose plans to develop or pave over every square inch of our paradise is causing natural stress that could destroy everything about out state. In the case of the poor fish in the picture found dead on the beach, he had the misfortune of swimming in a sea of toxic green slime instead of crystal clear waters.
The release of water from Lake Okeechobee by the Corps of Engineers due to excessive rains, with all of the pollutants of the sugar industry running downstream, is creating a disaster on the coast, Atlantic and Gulf alike. Nasty, smelly, sometimes chunky algae is killing marine life where it arrives, including fish and manatees alike, while tourists are forced to sit on a smelly beach or limit their vacations to shopping or sitting by the pool. Scott talks about his goal of growing industry and huge population infusions into a state that is already the third most populous in America despite having a fragile landscape and much smaller landmass than it's rivals and a rapidly diminishing water supply.
The Governor apparently forgets that the number one economic engine in Florida is tourism and enjoying pristine, beautiful beaches is always the major attraction, both summer and winter. Yet when tourists come to enjoy the crystal clear and blue-green water, they never thought it would be in green chunks. If he keeps it up, watch the attempts to add a state income tax to correct his follies, but long after he has gone off to some other place to wile his retirement days away in luxury while he leaves behind misery.
And there are many culprits to blame other than the sugar industry, for greedy developers are always looking for land, no matter if it is low and swampy, to put postage stamp lots together in subdivisions which demand much more than they return, including infrastructure which is paid for by the general populace. The developer takes the money and runs, leaving taxpayers to pay for the flooding, mosquitoes, overcrowding and destroyed quality of life which always follows for those who were there first. Consider that there is fracking in the Everglades, phosphate mines in multiple locations including here in North Florida in neighboring Bradford County and dredging of rivers for "Dream Port" cities that never pan out and you've got a disaster not just in the making, but one that is already here. Even where a major port is doable, the dredging of silt beds near the coast generates horrific results on the nearby bodies of water, their silty sand excess killing coral reefs like the one in Biscayne Bay with resultant killing of the recreational fishing industry, a prime tourist endeavor, and the city's natural storm barrier as well.
There is also a huge impact on good, potable drinking water which will be lost in only a generation or two if Florida doesn't stop the madness. Florida, now at twenty million inhabitants, can't survive another ten, twenty or even thirty million more residents, plus increased visitor numbers, and maintain sufficient water to sustain her existence as a viable state.
Remember several generations ago, when Detroit was failing, the joke they made about Michigan? It basically went like this: Last one out, turn off the lights. In the case of Florida we just might be saying sooner rather than later: Last one running out of tap water, turn the spigot off and head for another state. Here's suggesting that our illustrious Governor face reality and stop the madness before we lose the beauty of a state which is different than any other. Let's work to keep it the Sunshine State, not the Sunset State, shall we?