Annie Sneed reports for Scientific American – “[M]eteorologist and disaster risk expert Stephen Strader says… that as cities grow and there are more people, we’re seeing increased disaster potential – more and more people are being affected by disasters. Florida is a perfect example… We’ve seen high-rises built on barrier islands, which are the first to be affected by hurricanes. We’ve seen developers take out marsh and swamp land and fill it in, and create areas of dry land to build homes and other structures. All this has resulted in Florida increasing its odds of disaster over time, because we shouldn’t be in these locations… Disaster amnesia is a real thing. Take 1992, with Hurricane Andrew… [W]e seem to have forgotten what happened and started building right back to where we were before. As long as we keep filling up natural wetlands and marshes, building [expensive] hotels and resorts in these areas prone to hurricanes, it’s only a matter of time before a hurricane creates another disaster in this area worse than Hurricane Andrew.” Read Hurricane Irma: Florida’s Overdevelopment Has Created a Ticking Time Bomb
Tamara Lush reports for the Associated Press – “The storm left Tampa and St. Petersburg with only power outages and downed tree limbs to contend with. But many are wondering: Was Irma merely a dress rehearsal for The Big One? Study after study has shown the Tampa region is among the world’s most vulnerable when it comes to major storms. Yet so far it has failed to take some key precautions, such as… ending the practice of filling and building in wetlands and putting brakes on residential development.” Read Tampa dodged Irma’s worst, but still at risk and unprepared
Amy Green reports for WMFE – “In Florida there is worry about more flooding in Irma’s wake. Managers are taking steps like diverting water temporarily from the St. Johns River to the Indian River Lagoon to stem the river’s northward flow to flooded Jacksonville. St. Johns Riverkeeper Lisa Rinaman worries more flooding is possible throughout the region as storm water drains into the St. Johns from its massive watershed. Jacksonville’s flooding is described as historic, with water that rose to four feet in some places.” Read In Florida, Flooding Worries Continue Even After Irma
Chelsea Harvey reports for The Washington Post – “[T]he Florida Reef Tract… is in big trouble – scientists estimate that less than 10 percent of it is covered with living coral, the result of a long history of damage that, most recently, includes warming waters and back-to-back bleaching events… Now, scientists say these losses may have weakened the reef’s storm buffer. Research demonstrates that ‘if you reduce coral reef health… you have increased run-up in flooding,’ said Curt Storlazzi, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey. In a follow-up email to The Post, he added that, based on recent observational and modeling studies,’ the science indicates that had coral reefs been healthier across the Caribbean…, the resulting wave-driven run-up and coastal flooding of areas fronted by coral reefs would have been less than did occur…’… One 2014 meta-analysis… suggested that coral reefs may reduce the energy of incoming waves by up to 97 percent. Another meta-analysis from 2016 suggested that reefs may reduce the height of waves by 70 percent.” Read Scientists say damage to Florida’s coral reef has made the state more vulnerable to storm surges
Jaymi Heimbuch reports for Mother Nature Network – “While some species can sense the approaching danger and head to safer areas, those that cannot escape the path of the hurricane are displaced or don’t survive. ‘When Hurricane Andrew hit Louisiana the government estimated that more than 9 million fish were killed offshore…,’ wrote the National Wildlife Federation… Sharks… are known to detect barometric changes that cue them to head for safer water… Marine mammals such as dolphins also may sense changes and head out of the area. It could be… sudden salinity changes from the driving rains that trigger dolphins to seek safety… It isn’t always the case that dolphins and other cetaceans… get out of the way, though. Some dolphins have been pushed by the strong waters of hurricanes into shallow lagoons or even into drainage channels where they need to be rescued, rehabilitated and released back into the ocean… Huge waves and turbid waters can shift massive amounts of sand that smother sea sponges and sea whips and break apart coral reefs. If they survive the initial storm, corals still may undergo life-threatening stress from cooled water temperatures or murky water that blocks out the sunlight needed for photosynthesis.” Read What happens to marine wildlife during hurricanes?
The TC Palm reports – “The Army Corps of Engineers announced Tuesday it found no areas of concern on the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee after Hurricane Irma battered Florida over the weekend… ‘The lake level continues to rise,’ said Col. Jason Kirk, Jacksonville District commander. ‘We will continue to monitor conditions in the area so we are in the best position to respond should any issues develop.’” Read Army Corps of Engineers: Herbert Hoover Dike OK after Hurricane Irma
Jim Johnson writes for the Los Angeles Times – “[S]ome wildfires are caused by nature and some by humans. The point is that humans routinely extinguish both because natural causation is no excuse for surrender… Similarly, though humans are responsible for neither nocturnal darkness nor pathogens, humans routinely compensate for them, respectively, with electric lighting and antibiotics. It is reported that neither the sun nor volcanoes are responsible for climate change. But even if they were, if the problem can be solved by humans reducing their greenhouse gas emissions, that’s what matters.” Read Humans have solved both man-made and natural threats. We can do the same on climate change.
Michael Grunwald reports for Politico – “Senator Bill Nelson, after surveying the damage that Hurricane Irma inflicted across his state, blasted Republican politicians who reject the science and minimize the importance of climate change… Nelson said it’s clear that manmade global warming made Irma worse by increasing the temperature and the height of the seas that fueled the storm… Nelson, a former astronaut, launched into a detailed explanation of the science of climate change and the greenhouse effect, and how it has helped make the waters around Florida higher and warmer in recent decades… Nelson pointed out that politicians don’t question government scientists when they say a hurricane is coming – but when the same agencies use the same scientific instruments to measure long-term climate trends, opinions suddenly differ.” Read Florida Sen. Bill Nelson: Republicans ‘denying reality’ on climate change
From Our Reader
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Upcoming Environmental Events
September 16, 9:00 AM – Participate in the Big Talbot Island Cleanup. For more information, click here.
September 20, 7:00 pm – Attend the premiere of the “Hidden Secrets of Florida Springs” documentary in Winter Park. For tickets and more information, click here.
September 22-23, 9:00 AM – Attend the Florida Wildflower Symposium in Orlando. This is Florida’s only event focusing exclusively on native wildflowers and the wildlife depending on them. The event features field trips; garden walks; presentations on conservation issues, bees, butterflies and other wildlife; and hands-on workshops on propagation and wildflower meadow installation. For more information, click here.
September 22, 9:00 AM – Attend a Conservation Lands Workshop in Punta Gorda. For more information and to register, click here.
September 23, 9:00 AM – Attend “Solar Rocks for the Equinox” at Rum 138 (2070 SW County Road 138) in Fort White. The event will feature solar experts and exhibitors to showcase affordable solar energy solutions. The event is free and open to the public. Live music and local food options will be available. For more information, contact Chris Mericle (firstname.lastname@example.org, (386) 855 – 5096) or Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson (email@example.com, (352) 222 – 8893).
October 7, 9:00 am – Attend the 2017 Everglades Symposium: Citizen Empowerment in Miami. For more information and to register, click here.
October 11, 12:45 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussions Group meeting at the Belvedere Library Community Room in The Villages. Gary Kuhl and Amy Giannotti will be speaking. Gary Kuhl is a former Executive Director of the SWFWMD and Amy Giannotti is the Water & Lakes Manager in Winter Park, FL. For more information and to RSVP, email firstname.lastname@example.org
October 11, 7:00 pm – Attend “Losing the Grand Canyon: FAF Presents an Unforgettable Evening with Kevin Fedarko” in Orlando. Kevin is one of 24 who have hiked the entire 800-mile journey through the Canyon. What he learned along the way should concern all of us in Florida who love our environmental treasures. The evening will be moderated by Diane Roberts and tickets are $100. For more information and to buy tickets, click here.
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