Climate management and water management are inseparably connected in Florida. What happens to Florida’s climate will have enormous impact on waters in Florids. It is odd, therefore, that interest in taking actions to minimize the magnitude of climate change seems to have fallen off the state’s political agenda. New Governor Rick Scott, for example, proposes to abolish the state’s Energy and Climate Commission.
It is not as if the warning signals of climate change are faint. Last year’s global temperatures tied with 2005 for the hottest on record. North of the equator, it was the hottest year ever. Of 22 long-term weather stations in Florida, 9 reported that last summer was the hottest ever. In 2010, the Atlantic Ocean saw the second-highest number of hurricanes ever. We in Florida paid little attention because-this year-little damage was done in this state. However, Florida historically has more hurricane landfalls than any other state-and will have many in the future.
More climate change effects are expected by scientific reports. Unless the emission of greenhouse gases is cut back dramatically, the U.S. Global Change Research Program forecasts that the southeastern United States will have summers in 2080 an average of 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than today. Higher global temperatures will mean higher sea levels. In Florida, over 4,000 square miles are only 4.5 feet or less above sea level and therefore threatened by higher sea levels. A study from Tufts University found that $130 billion of residential land in Florida could be at risk from a rising sea level by 2060, along with half of the sandy beaches, 140 drinking water plants and hundreds of other facilities.
Shouldn’t Floridians be responding to these threats?