As Florida cities wrestle with how to haul out millions of tons of post-hurricane debris and where to put it, the environmental community is asking whether the storms could mark a turning point in the state’s reputation for minimizing the issue of climate change.
Despite Florida’s vulnerability to sea level rise and extreme weather events, state employees are discouraged from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming.” But Ken Berlin, president and CEO of the Climate Reality Project founded by Al Gore, said the state has gotten the ultimate wake-up call.
“You know, the key thing about climate change is you can’t hide from it. You may be able to hide from it for a while, but you can’t hide from things like Harvey and Irma,” Berlin said. “And you can sort of, for a while, say, ‘Well, I don’t believe it.’ But the evidence is becoming stronger every day that you have to pay attention to this.”
“The key thing about climate change is you can’t hide from it…the evidence is becoming stronger every day that you have to pay attention to this.”
Now, he said, it’s important for Floridians to take steps that show they are paying attention. They can ask policymakers to spend disaster-relief dollars on more resilient infrastructure designed to withstand the effects of a warming climate.
Berlin said Florida families can also work to minimize their own impact on the environment. He recommends investing in distributed energy like solar rooftop panels, reducing household carbon footprints, and rethinking insurance coverage.
But Berlin said acknowledging the problem is the first step.
“What we really say to climate change deniers in this situation is, these storms are a tremendous risk to you in Florida and a risk to the whole state of Florida – as is rising sea level a long-term risk to the state of Florida,” he said. “And it’s critical to take the insurance you need to prevent that from happening.”
Researchers at the University of Florida published findings in the journal Geophysical Research Letters that sea levels in parts of South Florida are rising six-times faster than the global averages. And that was before this year’s hurricane season.
by Trimmel Gomes
Public News Service – FL
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