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Climate Change

Four thousand years ago, rising seas decimated huge swaths of mangroves in Florida Bay.

Today, seas rising at a far greater rate, combined with increasing storms and drought, could lead to another catastrophic loss of mangroves that help keep the state from sliding into the sea, according to a new study published by the U.S. Geological Survey in the journal Nature Communications.

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Florida agriculture leaders met in Gainesville this week to talk about climate change solutions within the industry.

The meeting came after a warning from the United Nations urging farmers and foresters to adapt to global warming -- for the sake of the environment and the agriculture industry.

WUSF's Jessica Meszaros spoke with Lynetta Usher Griner, a logger and one of the organizers of the Gainesville meeting. 

Randall Dasher is a fourth-generation Florida farmer and until last year, he never had a crop of iron-clay cowpeas fail.

"Something has changed and somewhere, someway, that has affected our yields," he said Monday during a panel at the University of Florida, where farmers met with U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa, scientists and agriculture officials.

As the planet heats up, polar ice melts, seas rise and Biblical-size rains become more frequent, hurricanes are expected to get wetter and more intense.

But less certain is how much climate change is making these fierce storms, which target Florida more than any other U.S. state, more punishing now.

Pixabay/ vegasita

Agriculture and forestry leaders are meeting in Gainesville on Monday to talk about farming and ranching as part of the climate change solution.

Budget Cover
City of Tampa

The City of Tampa will hire a sustainability officer to create a long-term plan for dealing with the effects of climate change. It’s one of the proposals Mayor Jane Castor announced in her first budget.

You can read Castor's budget presentation here [opens in a PDF file].

Florida’s heat set record highs last month. The Union of Concerned Scientists says in less than 20 years, Florida will be so hot for so much of the year that it could literally be life threatening. The scientists in a new report say the world must reduce carbon emissions now or face extreme heat that will take lives within decades. 

A report released this week predicts a lot more days of extreme heat - so much that they're being called "killer heat" days. We conclude our three-part series with a plea from scientists for politicians to do something - before it's too late.

Heat Index
Union of Concerned Scientists

By Steve Newborn

In 1995, a heat wave killed more than 700 people in Chicago. It affected mostly elderly, African-American women who lived on their own.

A report released this week shows climate change could mean a lot more days of extreme heat for Florida and Tampa Bay, and with it, the likelihood residents will be exposed to significant health risks.

A report released Tuesday says that the nation will face extremely hot days - along with deaths from killer heat waves - in the near future if carbon emissions aren't reduced. And perhaps not surprisingly, Florida may experience some of its hottest days on record.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

By Jessica Meszaros

A new study describes the future mass redistribution of plants and animals on Earth due to climate change.  The research conducted by the University of Florida and the University of Tasmania appears in the journal Nature Climate Change. An author of the study says Florida is already experiencing this migration due to global warming. Brett Scheffers, a professor of wildlife ecology at UF, spoke with WUSF's Jessica Meszaros.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

The Government Accountability Office says the military isn't doing enough to deal with the effects of climate change, after more than $9 billion in hurricane and flood-related damage to three bases in less than a year.

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

Scientists and politicians in Florida are highlighting climate change ahead of the Democratic presidential debates in Miami this week.

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.

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