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Climate Change

Angel Portillo doesn't think about climate change much. It's not that he doesn't care. He just has other things to worry about. Climate change seems so far away, so big.

Lately though, Portillo says he has been thinking about it more often.

Standing on the banks of a swollen and surging Arkansas River, just upriver from a cluster of flooded businesses and homes, it's easy to see why.

"Stuff like this," he says, nodding at the frothy brown waters, "all of the tornadoes that have been happening — it just doesn't seem like a coincidence, you know?"

In Satellite Beach, homes perch atop a sand dune, left exposed after a series of storms and hurricanes washed away a sea wall.
Amy Green / WMFE

A ban in Florida on the words “climate change” appears to be ending.

The DeSantis administration is showing new leadership where state government has been absent in the past.

Hurricane Maria was the rainiest storm known to have hit Puerto Rico, and climate change is partly to blame, according to a new study.

The worst rain fell in the mountainous central part of Puerto Rico, from the northwest to the southeast. That part of the island is rainy under normal conditions. In an average year, it gets more than 150 inches of rain.

When Maria hit in 2017, it dropped nearly a quarter of that annual rainfall in just one day.

A two-day conference at St. Thomas University in Miami Gardens is convening the faith community to discuss how the social impact of climate change can be tackled through religious dialogue. 

As the legislative session continues in the Florida Capitol, advocates question if lawmakers are making climate change a priority. 

An international program that has helped South Florida cities address climate change and other livability challenges is ending. 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District is working on more than $4 billion in storm disaster recovery projects in Florida and Puerto Rico.

Over the past few years, Miami native Trenise Bryant has seen her neighborhood, the African-American enclave of Liberty City, start to change. Bryant grew up in one of the area's oldest public housing projects, Liberty Square. Lately, rents have gone up, and Bryant has seen people priced out and forced to move away.

One factor driving this, Bryant says, is climate change.

Julio Ochoa/WUSF

Tampa Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor was recently selected as chair of the new Select Committee on the Climate Crisis.

Leon County eighth grade student Charlotte Stuart-Tilley organized a school strike, held last week, to bring attention on the issue of climate change.

Mayor Rick Kriseman Facebook page

St. Petersburg is one of 25 cities getting money to go green from philanthropist and rumored presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg.


Eight Florida youth have amended a lawsuit accusing the state of failing to protect them from climate change to name Gov.-elect Ron DeSantis.

The lawsuit alleges the state has violated the youth’s constitutional rights to life, liberty and property by supporting policies that accelerate climate change.

2018 was a hot year — in fact, the fourth warmest on record. The only years that were, on average, warmer were the past three, according to the World Meteorological Organization.

It has been warming for decades now. But 2018 brought several major new and markedly more precise reports from scientists about what climate change is doing to the weather and how dire they expect the consequences to be.

That didn't stop President Trump and others from continuing to question the evidence.

The federal government recently released a report claiming climate change is, in fact, real. The report confirms that climate change is an issue that is spiraling, and will likely lead to significant implications that could potentially affect the economy or human safety. Some climate change-caused scenarios are earthquakes, wildfires, floods, increased hurricane intensity, disrupted agriculture yields, or increasingly severe algal blooms and red tide outbreaks.

Leaders from nearly 200 countries, including the United States, are at a big climate conference in Poland this week. They are struggling to agree on rules for how to meet their national promises to reduce greenhouse gas emissions under the Paris climate agreement of 2015. The official U.S. position is making it difficult.

Orlando has committed to powering itself entirely with renewable energy by 2050. Miami-Dade County has a goal to plant 1 million trees by 2020 to achieve a 30 percent tree canopy cover. Satellite Beach, south of Cape Canaveral, is implementing aggressive plans to protect itself against climate change.

This week on The Florida Roundup we dedicated the full hour to looking at the risks from climate change and impacts the Sunshine State faces.

Shortly before noon on October 10, Lt. Col. Sean Cross and Maj. Dave Gentile, pilots with the U.S. Air Force Reserve, turned the nose of their WC-130J “Hurricane Hunter” toward the core of Hurricane Michael as it bore down on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

On a hot day in September, Charlene Jones celebrated her 61st birthday by herself.

The former nursing-home cook made herself a birthday dinner of turkey and dressing, macaroni and cheese, string beans and butter pound cake. She ate it alone, in a dim apartment in an affordable housing complex in Miami’s West Little River neighborhood.

“I wanted to be home,” Jones said. “I don’t really like being out.”

Legislative advocacy group Florida Conservation Voters is asking new leadership in the State Capitol for a joint select committee on climate change.

A new report shows that people who work outdoors in all 67 Florida counties frequently work in dangerously hot conditions as climate change leads to hotter days and more of them.

Everglades restoration needs to do more to account for climate change.

That’s the headline of a report released Wednesday by a Congressionally-appointed committee of scientists.

The report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine says agencies involved in restoration need to do more analysis of how sea-level rise and increasing rainfall impact Everglades projects.

Miami's mayor is joining a list of big names on a new international climate change commission.

Mayor Francis Suarez will be part of a new "Global Commission on Adaptation," led by Bill Gates, former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and current World Bank CEO Kristalina Georgieva.

The commission includes 28 leaders from government, business and non-profits. They represent countries including the Marshall Islands -- one of the nations most at risk of having to relocate because of sea-level rise.

Hurricane Michael approached Florida with ferocious speed this week, hitting the Panhandle as a Category 4 hurricane and leaving behind a trail of catastrophic damage. The storm went from a depression to a serious storm in less than a week.

According to the National Hurricane Center, Michael was the strongest hurricane to make landfall in the continental U.S. since Hurricane Andrew in 1992.

It's possible for the world to keep global warming from reaching a crisis point in the next 20 to 30 years, but it would take an effort that's unprecedented in human history.

That's according to a report released Monday by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a coalition of scientists brought together by the United Nations to guide world leaders on climate impacts.

President Trump and Florida Gov. Rick Scott have been reluctant to acknowledge the link between climate change and some of Florida's current environmental challenges, like King Tide flooding, stronger hurricanes and rising temperatures.

The apples won't be harvested until October. But when fourth-generation fruit grower Phil Schwallier walks through his orchard in Sparta, Mich., he already knows which ones he won't be able to sell.

More than 100 people answered the call from local students to march through downtown Fort Lauderdale on Saturday asking for action on climate change. 

'This Is Zero Hour' is a national climate change awareness and action campaign, but a group of recent graduates from American Heritage in Plantation organized a local campaign march that began in Esplanade Park. 

Dinorah Prevost / WUSF Public Media

As sea levels continue to rise in Florida, repeated flooding and storm surge are major concerns for Tampa Bay.

David Hastings, a climate scientist at Eckerd College, said the region could experience some of the most severe effects of climate change. He told the civic group Cafe Con Tampa on Friday that in the next 30 years, sixty-five thousand homes in Florida will flood twice a month affecting 100,000 Florida residents.

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