No doubt most Floridians are aware of the potential challenges of sea level rise–at least in relationship to their houses, property, and communities. Ecosystems, though, may be a less visible problem for many residents of the sunshine state.
Francis E. “Jack” Putz wants to bring the plight of at least one ecosystem community to the foreground. He recently published an article, “Coastal Forests Retreat as Sea Levels Rise,” about how Florida’s coastal forests will likely respond to sea level rise.
“I hope that Floridians accept that sea level rise is something about which we need to be concerned now, and not just people in [other countries] and not just our children’s children,” Putz wrote in an email release about the article that has been published in the Palmetto, a quarterly journal for the Florida Native Plant Society.
“[The article] is 20 years of research,” said the professor of conservation biology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Fla. Putz teaches courses on the ecology and management of local and tropical ecosystems. His research includes silviculture, fire ecology, and ethnobotany.
Florida is one of the states least ready to deal with water issues due to climate change, according to an April 5 report by the National Resources Defense Council. The ratings are based on a list of criteria including rainfall predictions, water supply challenges, extreme storm events sea leave rise, saltwater intrusion, and preparedness.
In her NRDC blog Rebecca Hammer discussed her take on some of the reasons Florida fared poorly in the report:
Florida lags far behind other states in preparing for climate change impacts. Under former Governor Charlie Crist, the state seemed well on its way to getting ready—statewide greenhouse gas pollution reduction goals were set, and the Florida Energy and Climate Commission was established to implement actions to reduce emissions of global warming pollution and prepare for climate impacts. However, under the administration of current Governor Rick Scott (who doesn’t believe in man-made climate change), the commission has been abolished and state agencies are doing very little to prepare for climate change.
Visit the NRDC Web page for an interactive map of the U.S. showing each state’s preparedness, a list and explanation of the criteria involved in creating the rankings as well as a pdf of the NRDC brief on the report.
A New York Times article, published today in the Environment section presents the risks of climate change and sea level rise on coastal communities where nearly 3.7 million live, more than half of them in Florida. The Southeast is predicted to be the most adversely affected in the U.S. because of low lying coastal areas. Residents of Florida’s densely packed coastlines will see impacts of increased and more frequent flooding and salt water water intrusion. Source: The New York Times online, March 14, 2012.