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Storm Clouds And Sunshine: How Florida Prepares For Climate Change

Florida is a land of sun and surf. Though as the climate continues to change, the “land” part of that equation becomes more tenuous.

As The Washington Post reported in 2017:

The sea in Tampa Bay has risen naturally throughout time, about an inch per decade. But in the early 1990s, scientists say, it accelerated to several inches above normal, so much that recent projections have the bay rising between six inches and more than two feet by the middle of the century and up to nearly seven feet when it ends. On top of that, natural settling is causing land to slowly sink.

Sea-level rise worsens the severity of even small storms, adding to the water that can be pushed ashore. Hard rains now regularly flood neighborhoods in St. Petersburg, Tampa and Clearwater.

And last year’s National Climate Assessment didn’t give an optimistic forecast. As The Miami Herald reports:

South Florida was name-checked repeatedly, for the heat that already enables year-round transmission of mosquito-borne diseases and the hundreds of thousands of people with “extreme” or “high” vulnerability to sea level rise.

Florida has more real estate at risk than any other state, and its economy is dependent on some of the industries most vulnerable to climate change — tourism and agriculture.

Months earlier, The Herald reported that of all the states, Florida’s climate risk was the highest:

By 2045, nearly 64,000 homes in Florida face flooding every other week. Half of those are in South Florida.

If you buy a house now, before your new mortgage is paid you might have to regularly do the rolled-up-pants, shoes-in-hand commute that has become an enduring image of sea rise.

These numbers, released in a report compiled by the Union of Concerned Scientists, used housing information from Zillow and a flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that predicts 6 1/2 feet of sea rise by the end of the century.

Climate change not only threatens expensive beachfront property — it also limits where all people in the state can live, retire, and go to school.

Speaking of schools, legislation introduced in Florida this year “aims to have schools teach alternatives” to climate change and evolution, according to WJXT.

This comes after a group of students attempted to sue former governor (now Senator) Rick Scott over climate change.

To top it all off, more Americans than ever are worried about climate change. How many of them are in Florida, and what can the state do about it? We’re in Florida today, and we aim to find out.

Source: NPR