Tuesday, September 01, 2020

How protecting our ocean can protect us from climate change. (News-Press guest column)


Guest opinion: How protecting our ocean can protect us from climate change

Ryann Lynn and Francis Rooney
Special to The News-Press
Volunteers with Keep Lee County Beautiful cleaned up Fort Myers Beach near the pier on July 5, 2020. According to Mike Thomas, program coordinator, about 30 volunteers picked up about 250 pounds of trash after the Fourth of July holiday. Some of the items picked up were cigarette butts, cardboard fireworks boxes, bottle caps and more. Thomas said it was a lot less than last year, when they collected 1,000 pounds.

It’s no secret that people come to Florida for the ocean. We may be the Sunshine State, but there is no better place to enjoy that sun than standing near the water. The combination of white sand beaches and crisp breezes, while watching the sunset dip below the horizon with the sound of the calming waves is the essence of Florida.

No doubt, people have moved to Florida for decades eager to enjoy crystal clear springs, colorful coral reefs, lush parks, and pristine beaches. But while our beautiful coastal landscapes and diverse wildlife warrant our neighbors’ envy, Florida’s idyllic natural spaces are being increasingly threatened by human activities. If we can take steps to conserve these places, particularly our ocean, the environment will help protect itself.

While we think of hurricanes as a natural phenomenon, they are stronger and more frequent than they once were because of the industrial world we’ve created and its reliance on fossil fuels.

Hurricanes build from more than 2,000 meters below the surface. Since 1970, the water temperature at these depths has soared in large part because atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are higher today than at any point in the past 800,000 years. As a result, Floridians are bracing for larger, slower, wetter storms — storms that can cause more destruction.

More:Guest opinion: From Florida to Alaska, cruise ships need to respect, protect environment

More:How did Lee and Collier fare in a recent national study of fecal bacteria at beaches?

Recently Peter Gaynor, the administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) supported the link between climate change and intensifying storms. His position reflects the growing scientific consensus that global warming is beginning to have real impacts on our weather.

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