Over the weekend, signals that President Donald Trump intends to abandon the landmark Paris Agreement on climate change began blaring.
A group of 22 Republican senators, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell along with White House aide Steve Bannon, White House counsel Don McGahn, and EPA chief Scott Pruitt, have reportedly urged Trump to exit the agreement, which requires signatory nations to take whatever steps they deem necessary to limit worldwide temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius.
While Trump tweeted on Saturday morning that he would make a final decision in the coming days, several people close to Trump have said that he is “[planning] to leave” the deal, according to an Axios report.
The reports appear to have unnerved even some Republicans, specifically those whose districts stand to take on a fair amount of water should the agreement fall apart and sea levels continue to rise — which could occur at a terrifyingly rapid rate without a serious global effort to curb carbon emissions.
On Tuesday, Florida GOP Rep. Vern Buchanan tweeted a picture of his coastal district, along with a message for the president.
Buchanan’s district includes the city of Sarasota and a group of barrier islands, all of which are threatened by rising sea levels.
A 2013 study found that if the rise in carbon emissions continues at the current rate, parts of Florida’s 16th congressional district could see half or more of its population displaced by 2100.
Buchanan is not the only Republican asking Trump to reconsider withdrawing from the agreement either.
Sen. Lindsay Graham, who represents South Carolina, home to a number of coastal cities and low-lying islands, added his voice to the chorus on Sunday, telling CNN’s Jake Tapper that leaving the agreement would be “bad for the [GOP], bad for the country.”
It might be relatively easy to ignore the problem of rising sea levels from landlocked states like Kansas or Montana or Tennessee.
Or from Air Force One, for that matter.
But it’s not so easy when, like Buchanan, Graham, and others, you wake up staring at the potential consequences each morning.
Buchanan’s record on climate change is certainly mixed — at best. Last year, the congressman earned a 29% rating from the League of Conservation Voters and just a 21% rating overall. But even if he’s late to the party, voices like his are unfortunately rare enough to be essential.
The more pro-climate GOP voices join the debate, the easier it will be for more Republicans from coastal areas who want their beautiful views to continue on undisturbed to face reality and stand up against climate change.
It’s in everyone’s best interest. Reality, after all, has a way of biting back before too long.