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Short answers to tough questions about climate change in South Florida

February 22, 2017

How has climate change effected Miami?

According to the Climate Reality Project, climate change has already victimized Miami. Flooding is now a normal occurrence, with higher tides moving progressively inland, made worse by rain and for traffic. A 300 million dollar project is expected to build pumps in order to push out the water when the tide rises to its highest point in the year, during the fall. Florida’s natural ecosystems and unique wildlife must adapt to the increasing salt level in the water. According to the National Park Service, researchers are unsure whether or not the species that inhabit the Everglades can survive increasing salinization, or amount of salt in the water, of the water.


How will South Florida adapt to sea level rise?

Parts of Miami Beach have already installed raised sidewalks to combat the rising sea levels. Sunset Harbour elevated its streets and sidewalks by two and a half feet along with installing more than 80 pumps, a project costing the city 500 million dollars. To rebuild all of South Florida–including homes, businesses, buildings and more–the cost will add up to billions in order to stave off the rising sea.


How does climate change affect Florida’s natural habitats?

The salinization of the Everglades plays a big role in freshwater ecosystems. The landscape is changing according to a study in the journal Climatic Change, salt-tolerant species flourish while salt-intolerant species die out. Plants such as sawgrass, a former dominant plant in the region, retreat while the mangroves take over. Freshwater animals, such as alligators who can live in sawgrass, will be forced to adapt or die as their habitat shifts.


How will the economy of South Florida be affected by climate change?

People flock from all over the world to South Florida, anticipating f tropical paradise. How can they enjoy it if South Florida is underwater? According to the Climate Reality Project, Florida could lose 178 billion dollars annually from the tourism industry, starting with a 9 billion dollar loss by 2025. Florida jobs in real estate, coastal planning, insurance and tourism executives are all in a tough position. The fish industry will suffer as ocean acidity levels rise, making it less habitable to coral reefs and fish. Economically important fish such as snapper and grouper depend on these reefs to survive.


How will the weather be affected by climate change?

Anyone who was in South Florida in 1992 remembers Hurricane Andrew as the most destructive hurricane in American history, costing 26 billion dollars in property damage and 65 lives. A quarter century later, the forecast predicts hurricanes at the same level of Andrew, or worse. Category 4 and 5 storms will form from heavier rainfall and higher winds. Drought, flooding and irregular rainfall patterns will all intensify as greenhouse gases permeate the atmosphere, warming the globe. Heat related illnesses will affect the elderly, young children, those in poverty, fish and crops. The rising temperature promotes an increase in air pollutants, endangering animals, plants and humans alike.

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