January 2009

Dear President Obama:

I live in the state that is ground zero for the costliest impacts of global warming. Our fisheries, our beaches, and our service industry are being damaged by pollution from fossil fuels. Because of the current rise in sea level from ocean thermal expansion, the loss of migratory bird habitat, the bleaching of this nation’s only coral reef, or the threat to our human health (See: Scientific American, August, 2000, lead article.), Florida is already experiencing the costs of climate change related problems as it recovers from the unprecedented impact of four severe hurricanes in one season and the 2008 economic collapse.

Please see that your State Department strengthens the Climate Treaty and extends the hothouse gas reduction targets now set by the Kyoto Protocol.

Do you realize ten Boards of County Commissioners, representing the largest urban counties -- this state's most densely settled shorelines -- passed resolutions in favor of heat trapping gas reductions? Elected officials representing over half of the state's residents called for actions in compliance with the Kyoto Protocol to implement meaningful and effective greenhouse gas measurement, monitoring and targeted reductions. They did so because these actions make immediate economic sense with longer-term efficiency.

Why? Because reducing our emissions, cleans the air, saves people money, makes the US globally competitive in the sale of solar electric or energy efficiency devices, and begins to liberate us from the vice of foreign fuel dependency. It makes sense to do so.

Please instruct your negotiators to extend the 1992 Climate Treaty to begin reducing the rate of hot house gas build-up by setting and eighty percent reduction in emissions by 2050. While far from perfect, this modest first step will only begin to deal with the destabilizing impact of accelerating consumption that is damaging our atmospheric thermostat. Though small, it remains an important start to exploit what little time remains for effective action.

County Commissioners in the Florida Keys, in 1999, were so concerned that the State Department was not representing their interests that they voted to join the Association of Small Island States. Why did that happen? Because our State Department does not recognize that greenhouse gas emissions, which are now increasing at the rate of two percent per year, pose a serious threat to our common air and oceans.

These gases trap heat and heat expands the molecules of the air and the ocean. Ocean thermal expansion is now causing the noticeable death of palm trees in west Florida and the loss of freshwater saw-grass vegetation in the Everglades National Park. Saltwater tolerant mangroves are spreading over a three-kilometer threshold of coastal land in the southern part of Florida.

Our state is sinking as our policies encourage air pollution by weakening the Kyoto Protocol. This is not sensible or realistic, since the US produces a fifth of all greenhouse gases in the world!

You must tell your negotiators what the National Science Foundation and now the National Academy of Science told you. Global Warming is real. Solutions exist, but we need to begin now before a narrow window of opportunity to reduce pollution shuts. Negotiating seriously to impose real reductions in heat trapping gases in the wake of the world's adoption of carbon reduction is the primary way to assure economic recovery and our future prosperity. Together we have a duty to properly protect the atmosphere that our current level of emissions is wrecking.


(Your Name)

(Your address)

Floridians for a Brighter Future

Joseph V. Siry
Rollins College
Winter Park, Fl.