The Florida Bar

Florida Bar Journal

Florida’s Envirowreck


It is heartening, and heartbreaking, to find two passionate and well-researched environment-centric articles in the September/October Journal. The first encourages uniform state disclosure rules governing the potential for flooding of homes for sale or rent (“There Will Be Floods: Armoring the People of Florida to Make Informed Decisions on Flood Risk”). It outlines sensible guidelines to ensure that caveat emptor does not apply when a seller/landlord has prior knowledge of the flood-prone nature of his or her property. This is such a simple fix, and one that would safeguard those considering a home in a danger zone. Who would it not benefit? Sellers and landlords, perchance? And though the legislature could enact such a disclosure requirement (as part of a preliminary set of disclosures, not at closing) it very likely is, once again, turning its heavily lobbied back on the reality of rising sea levels. We wouldn’t want to scare off the next wave of snowbirds, now would we.

The second, and kudos to the Animal Law Section for its support of coral, explains in vivid detail the steps that Florida and the federal government must take to safeguard Florida’s reefs from further degradation (“The Fading Color of Coral: Anthropogenic Threats to Our Native Reefs”). It’s common knowledge that a healthy reef (and mangrove) system serves as a bulwark against storm damage. Why would the state not embrace the reasonable measures wholeheartedly? Because of Big Sugar? Because of unchecked development? Because cashing in in the short term is — and has been for decades — preferable to taking the long view?

Go back and read Condominium by John D. MacDonald. He predicted this devastation in 1977. Of course, Marjorie Stoneman Douglas sounded the alarm in River of Grass 30 years prior. Today, over 70 years later, the same pleas from concerned citizens fall on the same deaf ears. If Mother Nature can pack in a hurricane or two, maybe enough voters will hold enough sway to replace those who continue to ignore science and reality and whose moral compasses are hopelessly compromised.

Medea Isphording Bern, Hillsborough, CA