The Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board writes – “Developers eager to invade Seminole County’s protected rural area launched a stealth attack during this year’s legislative session. Foiled in that strategy, they’ve switched tactics to a raid in full daylight… Former state Rep. Chris Dorworth has submitted preliminary plans to Seminole County for a massive, mixed-use development on almost 700 acres of pastureland within the area that a majority of county voters designated rural by amending the county charter in 2004… Plans for River Cross also call for a new, multi-land bridge over the Econ, a river the state has declared worthy of special protection as an Outstanding Florida Water. The bridge would compound the development’s environmental impact and pave the way for more encroachments in the rural area… As (Commissioner) Constantine and other opponents have pointed out, once Seminole County makes an exception for one major development, a flood of others will follow… Seminole commissioners… had a wealth of good reasons to offer voters the option of ruling out urban development in the eastern third of the county. All of them still hold true today. Preserving a rural lifestyle in the area. Protecting environmentally sensitive acreage for wildlife habitat and recharging the area’s groundwater supply. Keeping local farms in production. Maintaining and expanding opportunities for outdoor recreation… Commissioners also sold the rural area to voters as a way to steer development to parts of the county where public services… are already available… We urge Seminole commissioners to stand up to [the] pressure. Keep in mind all of the environmental and economic benefits of preserving the rural area. And honor the will of the county’s voters.” Read Repel raid on Seminole County’s rural area
Ron Cunningham reports for The Gainesville Sun – “Can’t we save the aquifer by tapping into our lakes and rivers to support Florida’s booming growth?... Simply switching our dependence from underground to surface waters, [Cynthia Barnett] says, ‘fails to see the connection of all water.’… It turns out that our lakes, rivers and wetlands recharge our aquifers even as they manage stormwater runoff and help control flooding. They also provide the fresh water mix necessary to keep our marine estuaries healthy and productive… Plus the same pollution sources – inadequately treated sewage, agricultural and lawn fertilizers and pesticides, urban runoff, industrial discharges and more – that are contaminating the aquifer are also turning our rivers and lakes into oxygen-depleted algae traps… No, tapping a lake instead of an aquifer won’t save us from our own water excesses… ‘The most important thing we can do is to learn to live with less water,’ Barnett said.” Read Changing water sources won’t save us from our excesses
Tyler Treadway reports for the TC Palm – “Plastics were found at 16 of the 18 sites along the Treasure Coast sampled by volunteers with the Florida Microplastic Awareness Project so far this year… Internationally, microplastic is found in 70 percent to 90 percent of samples, said Mia McGuire, creator and coordinator of the statewide project… ‘We are eating, drinking and breathing plastics every day,’ McGuire said. ‘Plastic fibers are in the air we breathe and in the water we drink, whether it’s from the tap or from bottles. Even if it’s not in the food you eat, it’s landing on the top of the food you eat.’… [T]he bits of plastic are broken into four basic categories: -Fragments: Tiny pieces of plastic broken off larger pieces – Fibers: Usually from clothes with synthetic material and nylon ropes – Microbeads: From toothpaste and abrasive skin-care products – Film: Primarily from plastic bags and wraps… [P]lastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound by 2050… Six of the top 10 items collected each year during the International Coastal Cleanup are pure plastic (beverage bottles, bottle caps, straws, plastic bags, grocery bags, plastic cups and plates); and the top two items (cigarette butts and food wrappers) contain plastic.” Read Microplastics: From your clothes to the Indian River Lagoon to your fish dinner
David Fleshler reports for the Sun Sentinel – “The Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, which covers an area the size of Chicago, has begun exploring opening itself up to a wide range of new activities, plans that leave environmentalists wary they could detract from the refuge’s principal mission of protecting nature… Established in 1951 to protect migratory birds – and currently providing homes to more than 250 bird species – the refuge currently supports bicycling, fishing and hiking, as well as limited hunting for alligators and ducks. But ideas under consideration by its management would add many more activities… [including] hunting for deer, hogs and small mammals. They include camping, walking leashed dogs, more trails for hiking, biking and canoeing, a new fishing pier and an expansion of current hunting for waterfowl and alligators. They include outdoor weddings and yoga.” Read Deer hunting, camping and weddings may come to Loxahatchee wildlife refuge
Kevin Spear reports for the Orlando Sentinel – “Though dwarfed in population and traffic by its neighbor, Lake County has the Orlando area’s most unhealthy air when it comes to ozone smog, according to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report. Lake got a C, Orange got a B and Seminole and Osceola each scored an A. In Florida, only Tampa’s county, Hillsborough, was marked with an F. Janice Nolen, an association assistant vice president, said Lake may be the victim of pollution from Orange and Seminole… ‘Ozone often shows up downwind from those sources…,’ she said. Though invisible, ozone smog is linked to worsened asthma and COPD, heart attacks and strokes, and reproductive and nervous-system harm. Nationally, smog has decreased markedly as cars, fuels and industry have gotten cleaner… The lung association considers smog regulations to be far too lax, including the more stringent limits determined by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency nearly three years ago after contentious debate between health advocates and industry representatives… The Orlando area ranks far better in another category… Particle pollution is a mix of chemicals from tailpipes, chimneys and other sources that react in the atmosphere… ‘Particle pollution and ozone pollution both can shorten life – they can literally kill you,’ Nolen said. ‘But particles are much more lethal than ozone. We know that particle pollution causes lung cancer.’” Read Lake County has least healthy air in Central Florida, American Lung Association says
Steve Patterson reports for The Florida Times Union – “Aquatic preserves created to protect sea life from Australia to the ocean off Mayport stand to lose huge numbers of fish as oceans warm in coming decades, researchers reported… ‘There has been a lot of talk about establishing marine reserves to buy time while we figure out how to confront climate change,’ said Rich Aronson, a researcher at the Florida Institute of Technology… who co-authored the report… ‘We’re out of time and the fact is we already know what to do: We have to control greenhouse gas emissions.’ Marine protected areas have grown mostly unnoticed over a generation, spreading to include big chunks of Florida’s coastline… But if countries don’t significantly shrink their release of carbon greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, which increases water temperatures,… [the] report projects many of the protected areas will just become too hot – either for the fish, or the creatures at the base of the food chain or the corals that become hiding places for tiny creatures that are food for the next bigger sea life there… ‘With warming of this magnitude, we expect to lose many, if not most, animal species from marine protected areas by the turn of the century,’ said John Bruno, the report’s lead writer and a biologist at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill… ‘Though it’s established that well designed and well managed MPAs buffer against the effects of climate change, they will not prevent climate change. Some fish might move to find suitable temperatures, just like they do now during El Nino… years. Some fish may die out. Some fish may be unaffected.’ Villagomez said the best step people can take to be ready is to increase the number of protected areas, ‘as those areas will be the refuges for many species facing a warming planet.’” Read Scientists: Climate change could punish fish habitats targeted for conservation
Jacqueline Howard reports for CNN – “Doctors have long raised alarm about the potential health risks of climate change, but it turns out that children are particularly vulnerable. Children are estimated to bear 88% of the burden of disease related to climate change, according to a paper published… in the journal Pediatrics… ‘The basic message is that climate change is occurring, and I think it disproportionately affects the most vulnerable populations, and that includes children,’ [Dr. Chan, co-author of the paper] said.” Read Pediatricians are concerned about climate change, and here’s why
Eric Lipton and Lisa Friedman reports for The New York Times – “[A] new cache of emails offer a detailed look inside the [EPA’s] aggressive efforts to conceal [Pruitt’s] activities as a public servant. The more than 10,000 documents, made public as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Sierra Club, show that the agency’s close control of Mr. Pruitt’s events is driven more by a desire to avoid tough questions from the public than by concerns about security, contradicting Mr. Pruitt’s longstanding defense of his secretiveness.” Read E.P.A. Emails Show an Effort to Shield Pruitt from Public Scrutiny
From Our Readers
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Upcoming Environmental Events
May 9, 12:44 pm – Attend the Villages Environmental Discussion Group at the Belvedere Library Community Room (325 Belvedere Blvd.) in The Villages. Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Sierra Club Organizing Rep., will make a presentation entitled “Urban Fertilizers… Connections to Our Lawns, Landscape, and Florida’s Waters”. Shari Blissett-Clark, Pres. Of the FL Bat Conservancy, will make a presentation entitled “Bats in Florida’s Backyards.” For more information and to RSVP, email email@example.com.
May 11, 8:30 am – Attend the Save Our Water 2018 summit in Bonita Springs. For more information, click here.
May 17-20 – Attend The Florida Native Plant Society’s 38th Annual Conference in Miami. For more information, click here.
May 19, 10:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Pensacola Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. There will be speeches, snacks, live music, and more. For more information, click here.
May 19, 11:00 am – Participate in Hands Across the Sand at Fort Walton Beach. Hands Across the Sand is an annual gathering of people who come together to express their opposition to dirty fossil fuels and to champion a new era of clean, renewable energy. For more information, click here.
May 22 – June 23 – Solar United Neighbors is hosting several solar co-op information sessions around Florida throughout the next few months. Attendees will learn about solar equipment, financing, and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. For a complete list of sessions, click here.
May 23, 5:30 pm – Attend Before the Flood at the Pensacola Public Library (239 N. Spring St.) in Pensacola. Before the Flood is a film that follows actor Leonardo DiCaprio to five continents and the Arctic to witness climate change firsthand. Following the film, 350 Pensacola and Northwest Florida Move to Amend will discuss how the influence of corporate money in politics is delaying action on climate change and how the public can take action to free the political system of that influence. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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