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Floridians Grapple With Sea Level Rise
Two stories this past weekend highlight how coastal towns in Florida are bracing themselves against rising sea levels.
The AP reports on a Miami-area startup that provides sea level rise assessment reports and advice on individual property parcels in vulnerable cities in South Florida. The firm's services, which have included advising one homeowner on building a seawall out of view of her infinity pool, showcase how private homeowners and property managers are beginning to think about the future for their valuable coastal properties as city planners implement changes around them.
Hundreds of miles away, across the state on the Gulf of Mexico and in the middle of a predominantly Trump-supporting county, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting covers how the coastal village of Yankeetown is protecting its surrounding marshland to use as a buffer against rising seas.
"The Withlachoochee Gulf Preserve and the area around Yankeetown is perhaps the best place in the world to see the effects of sea-level rise," University of Florida forest ecologist Jack Putz told FCIR. "You go from forest to salt marsh to mud flats and sea grass to open Gulf water all in the space of a mile, and it's just a spectacular kind of place to see the whole process."
"This little town on the Gulf coast of Florida was one of the first in the country to develop such a detailed approach for dealing with the inevitable, of sea level rise, he added. "It's remarkable that a small town is leading the charge."
As reported by FCIR:
Across the country, coastal communities are considering how to protect essential infrastructure from sea-level rise and climate change.
In Florida, Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican who is challenging incumbent Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson this year, has doubted whether rising tides and more extreme weather events are threats, questioned whether human activity is speeding the Earth's warming, and banned terms such as "climate change" and "global warming" from use in state reports and communications, as the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting revealed in 2015.
The Sunshine State's policy of denial has led to a lack of leadership on the impact of climate change and left communities on their own as they confront the dangers and infrastructure costs associated with more regular flooding and saltwater intrusion into underground drinking water supplies.
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