Although religious belief is correlated with climate change denialism and less commitment to the environment, Catholics, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, and Evangelical Christians have all issued calls for better environmental stewardship. And yet, on Wednesday, as Key West was experiencing a record heat index of 115°F, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis disappeared climate change, effective July 1.

In the Governor’s own words: “The legislation I signed today — HB 1645, HB 7071, and HB 1331 — will keep windmills off our beaches, gas in our tanks, and China out of our state. We’re restoring sanity in our approach to energy and rejecting the agenda of the radical green zealots. Furthermore, we’re going to ensure foreign adversaries like China have no foothold in our state.”

On that last point, Ron’s not wrong. It will be difficult for anybody — or any building — to have a foothold in a state that’s built on porous limestone bedrock and rapidly sinking into the ocean.

In its Underwater report, the Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that by 2045, housing for more than 90,000 Floridians is at risk of being flooded at least 26 times per year. That means today’s homebuyers could see their property flooding every two weeks before they’ve paid off their mortgage. It gets worse: By 2100, more than 1 million Florida homes across 100 ZIP codes will be at risk of “chronic inundation” from sea level rise.

Dire projections aside, Florida is already experiencing the devastating effects of climate change. It’s ranked first in damages from climate and weather disasters. Rising ocean temperatures are stressing and bleaching coral reefs. Catastrophic algae blooms are killing wildlife and the economy. And with major insurers fleeing the disaster-ridden state, Florida homeowners are paying more than triple the national average in property insurance premiums.

Rather than addressing any of that, the legislation DeSantis signed this week removes nine references to “climate” in state law; deprioritizes renewable energy and conservation; expands natural gas; deregulates gas pipelines; and prohibits bans on gas stoves and other appliances. What DeSantis calls “restoring sanity,” critics call “proof that the governor and state legislature are not acting in the best interests of Floridians, but rather to protect profits for the fossil fuel industry.”

Meanwhile, Donald Trump invited more than 20 of the nation’s top oil executives to Mar-a-Lago last month to offer them a tremendous deal: Give my reelection campaign $1 billion, and I will repeal dozens of environmental rules and energy regulations. “You’ll get it on the first day,” promised the former president.

The 11,000% return on investment is sure to be a tempting offer for the oil and gas industry, which could get $110 billion in tax breaks if Trump returns to the White House — a possibility fossil fuel lobbyists are already preparing for by “drawing up ready-to-sign executive orders for Donald Trump.”

The Christian nationalists behind Project 2025 also have detailed plans to “develop vast oil and gas and coal resources” that go way beyond reversing President Biden’s executive orders on climate change, including abolishing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and selecting the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) science advisor based on managerial skills instead of scientific qualifications.

As is usually the case with the Christian nationalist agenda, it turns out their plans to destroy the planet are wildly unpopular among the people living on it. 7 in 10 atheists say climate change is an important consideration in voting. Our own Secular Survey found protecting the environment is a top priority for nonreligious youth, and new research shows almost half of Gen Z and Millennials have left a job or plan to because of climate concerns. Plus, despite DeSantis’s denialism, 90% of Floridians believe climate change is happening.

But we can’t afford to be complacent when a third of Americans believe recent natural disasters are evidence of the end times and God won’t allow humans to destroy Earth.

And when it’s clear that — whether or not Trump’s quid pro quo proves to be illegal — his most devout supporters will be unfazed by creed, corruption, or coastal flooding. They’ll simply bury their heads further into Florida’s sandy — and increasingly soggy — beaches.

In solidarity,

Nick Fish

PS: If you want to see American Atheists continue promoting science and sustainability over faith and fossil fuels, I hope you’ll set up a monthly donation today. It’s the best way to ensure this organization stays above water and can continue fighting Christian nationalism, anti-science extremism, and all the theocratic threats facing our nation and planet.

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