ST. PETERSBURG -- The just-released 2018 update to the National Climate Assessment, “NCA4 Vol. II,” offers more proof that Florida will face increasingly dire consequences if action isn’t taken to dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions.
“We used to say that climate change would impact our kids and grandkids, but we are experiencing worsening, terrible impacts now,” said Jennifer Rubiello, state director of Environment Florida. “From some of the most destructive and tragic wildfires on record out in California to the devastation of Hurricane Michael here in Florida, this report documents that such disasters will be the new normal if we don’t take immediate action to cut global warming pollution.”
In the Southeast United States, which includes 11 states from Florida to Louisiana to Virginia, the report predicts:
• An additional 100 nights per year with temperatures above 75℉ by the end of the 21st century.
• Loss of many of the region’s coral reefs by mid-century.
• Extreme heat will pose health risks to outdoor agricultural workers, with some communities projected to lose an average of 570 million labor hours each year by the end of the century.
• An increase in cases of West Nile virus and “conditions more suitable for transmission of certain vector-borne diseases, including year-round transmission in southern Florida.”
• Bridges in the region will be the most vulnerable of any other in the country.
• Extreme coastal flooding will be more frequent and lasting with “more than 30 days of high tide flooding” by mid century.
• With a just over 3 feet of sea level rise, the region “would lose over 13,000 recorded historic and prehistoric archaeological sites and more than 1,000 locations currently eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places” including historic sites in St. Augustine.
• “Florida alone is estimated to have a 1-in-20 chance of having more than $346 billion (in 2011 dollars) in property value (8.7%) below average sea level by 2100 under a higher scenario.”
• In South Florida alone, 590,000 will “face “extreme” or “high” risk from sea level rise, with 125,000 people living in these areas identified as socially vulnerable and 55,000 classified as medically vulnerable.”
• Double the number of heavy rainfall events, which “would directly affect the vulnerability of the Southeast’s coastal and low-lying areas.”
• The movement of invasive species like burmese pythons and brazilian pepper trees northward with warmer temperatures.
“We have to act strategically, with urgency, to stifle climate change. It’s time to generate 100% of our energy from clean sources and adopt transportation modes that give off zero emissions,” concluded Rubiello. “It’s up to all of us -- from our elected officials, to the companies we buy from, to our families -- to study what the scientists say in the report, roll up our sleeves, and solve this existential challenge for our country.”