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Florida Matters: Sea Level Rise In The Sunshine State

Many scientists say sea level rise in Florida is accelerating. How is that affecting coastal communities now, and what can residents and elected officials do to brace themselves for future change?

This week on Florida Matters we're talking about the impact of sea level rise in the Sunshine State and what some local governments are doing to prepare for it.

We get a better understanding of the science behind sea level rise, and hear from panelists who say the phenomenon is already impacting stormwater systems on the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts.

We discuss the potential impact sea level rise could have on property values, land development and infrastructure. And we ask, who should be responsible for paying to build new protections or repair future damages?

We also debate whether climate issues have become too politicized, and what U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement really means for Florida.

Our guests include:

  • Tampa City Council Member Harry Cohen, representing District 4 which includes most of South Tampa, Harbor Island and Davis Islands.
  • Davina Passeri, research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey’s St. Petersburg Coastal and Marine Science Center
  • Stephen Tilbrook, South Florida environmental lawyer with the firm GrayRobinson

We also hear from some of the many listeners who shared their questions and concerns about sea level rise. Special thanks to all who participated in the discussion both on and off the air.
Keep the conversation going in the comments section below, email floridamatters@wusf.org or visit our Facebook page.

You can view simulations of potential impacts from coastal flooding and sea level rise in your community with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's interactive Sea Level Rise Viewer.

I cover health care for WUSF and the statewide journalism collaborative Health News Florida. I’m passionate about highlighting community efforts to improve the quality of care in our state and make it more accessible to all Floridians. I’m also committed to holding those in power accountable when they fail to prioritize the health needs of the people they serve.
Carson Cooper has become a favorite of WUSF listeners as the host of "Morning Edition" on WUSF 89.7 since he took the job in 2000. Carson has worked in Tampa Bay radio for three decades.