DeSantis Deserves a Darwin Award | Opinion

Gov. Ron DeSantis in 2022. Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr.

In the 1850s, British naturalist Charles Darwin proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection. In his book, “On the Origin of Species,” Darwin presented years of data, notations he’d made while observing plants and animals in their natural habitats.

Over decades of painstaking observation, Darwin discovered that organisms with traits that favor survival tend to leave more offspring, causing survivalist traits to increase in frequency over time among successful species. In a word, Darwin concluded, successful survival of all living organisms requires them to adapt.

Species that fail to adapt? They go extinct.

We are approaching unsurvivable temperatures

Last year was the hottest of the past 170 years, which is when meteorologists first began tracking global temperatures. According to NASA, the 10 warmest years since Darwin’s 1850s have all occurred in the last decade, with the same predicted for 2024.

Dead monkeys are falling out of trees in Mexico. Primates are dying, along with toucans, parrots, insects, bats and one million other species. Animals are dying from heat and dehydration at such alarming rates even Fox News has begun reporting it, though they have not yet found a way to blame Biden, inflation or the border.

Last week, avoiding the words “climate change,” Fox News quoted the director of an eco-conservation park in Mexico saying they’d “never seen a situation like what’s happening right now.” The conservation park resuscitates and rehydrates dying animals for re-release into the wild, but if heat like this continues, he predicted, “there is not going to be much we can do for the animals.”

As animals go, so do we

Scientists at MIT report that a wet-bulb temperature of 95 °F is the absolute limit of human survival. The human body temperature is around 98 °F, allowing for a constant balance between heat loss and heat gain. But there’s a temperature/humidity point at which the human body can’t lose heat fast enough. At that point, everything in the body, from enzymes to organs, including kidneys, lungs, heart and brain, begins to shut down. 

According to MIT, a sunny area with 50% humidity and no wind will hit an unlivable wet-bulb temperature of 95°F when the thermometer reaches only 109 °F.

Last year, temperatures in many U.S. cities, especially in Texas, Florida and Arizona, repeatedly exceeded 109 °F, to say nothing of newly uninhabitable regions in Mexico, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Many U.S. cities will again surpass 109 °F this year, causing heat-related deaths and illness. Between 2004 and 2021, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports, heat-related deaths in the U.S. increased by a whopping 439%.

Oil-funded Republicans refuse to adapt

No serious debate remains about what is causing the climate to change. Scientists have known, for decades, that this point was coming. We have the technology to reduce carbon emissions and re-develop a grid with sufficient capacity; engineers and scientists calculated years ago that there’s more than enough wind, solar and hydropower to meet the needs of all people — and manufacturers — on earth.

The intelligent adaptation to dead animals falling from the sky would be a transition to renewable energy as quickly as practicable, blending a graduated mix of alternative fuels with decreasing reliance on petrofuels.

But instead of modeling Darwin’s survival of the fittest and adapting new energy strategies, Republican governors of southern states — states experiencing climate change at accelerated rates — are modelling what happens when species refuse to adapt. These strutting Dodo birds are attacking climate science while at the same time seeking federal funds for climate mitigation.

Darwinism on display

In Florida this spring, cities like Miami were hit with extreme heat even before the arrival of summer. Ron DeSantis, addicted to culture wars and language bans, just signed a law that removes the words “climate change” from state publications, forbids the construction of offshore windmills, and halts the state’s clean energy goals. Forget that manatees are disappearing, Floridians can’t afford property insurance, and buildings are collapsing in coastal cities, to DeSantis, people concerned about climate change are “radical green zealots.

Livestock farming, a major methane contributor, creates deplorable lives for the animals while simultaneously warming the planet. There are humane solutions that could alleviate both problems. What did DeSantis do? He banned cruelty-free meat produced in a lab, dictating to everyone else what they can and cannot eat, effectively mandating animal cruelty and methane emissions at the same time.

DeSantis is entertaining know-nothing voters, attacking climate science front stage and collecting donations from Koch Industries backstage. It’s all performative ignorance, like watching Cro-magnon men show up at a board meeting, dragging women by the hair.

The unfortunate twist is that, as long as we share the same planet, DeSantis the Cro-magnon is dragging all of us by our hair.

Sabrina Haake is a columnist and 25 year litigator specializing in 1st and 14th Amendment defense. Her Substack, The Haake Take, is free.


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