Monday, June 2, 2008

Florida urged to heed global warming survival guide

Environment News Service: Environmental groups have issued a coastal, marine system global warming survival guide for Florida in an effort to prod state officials into taking action now while disaster is still manageable. Florida has heated up by about two degrees Fahrenheit since the 1960s and scientists project that average temperatures will keep rising in the coming decades, with lows in winter increasing three to 10 degrees, and highs in summer increasing three to seven degrees.

These warmer temperatures will bring more extreme weather events, higher ocean temperatures and sea level rise, and while these prospects seem daunting, a group of nationally and internationally recognized environmental organizations has drafted a series of key steps that governments and individuals can take to minimize the dangers.

"By assembling the nation's first comprehensive set of guidelines for dealing with the demonstrated effects of climate change on a coastal state, the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition has accomplished a first, said Environmental Defense Fund Climate Director Gerald Karnas.

...The first and most important step, the groups say, is to curb emissions, but even if humans are able to do that, the impacts that are predicted to occur still must be addressed.…Development in vulnerable areas can be halted to prepare for rising sea levels, and natural buffers must be restored and protected, the groups advise. The guide urges governments and individuals to prepare for extreme weather events by protecting and restoring shoreline vegetation and wetlands and upgrading stormwater management. Water use efficiency can be improved through conservation and recycling treated wastewater for irrigation and industrial use.

…Congress should enact climate adaptation legislation that would provide funding and require federal and state agencies to protect and strengthen the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems, the report recommends. "We have a moral obligation to change our relationship with the planet," said David White, regional director of Ocean Conservancy. "Adaptation to climate change will require significant investments in research, education, industry and government, but is within our capacity as a global society."…

Florida from space, NASA, Wikimedia Commons

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