Marco Rubio Once Again Denies Climate Change as Florida’s King Tides Inundate Streets
Sen. Marco Rubio refused to acknowledge human-caused climate change at a Florida Senate debate Monday even as a foot of water inundated city streets and sewers throughout South Florida, driven by the annual king tide combined with rising seas.
The king tide occurs when a full moon is aligned with the Earth and sun, exerting gravitational forces that are exacerbated by the naturally-occurring high tides. As sea levels around Florida have risen, these king tides have become regular flooding events.
Rubio argued for an "all-of-the-above" energy strategy, including oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear energy, and said he favored mitigation strategies, "if in fact sea levels are rising."
Patrick Murphy, Rubio's Democratic challenger, responded in the debate by saying, "Look out your window, right? There's two or three inches of saltwater on the roads right now. They were not built underwater. Go down to the Florida Keys. The reefs are dying from acidification and bleaching."
Some 76 percent of Florida's population resides in coastal communities—regions that are highly vulnerable to storm surges, high tides, rising waters and hurricanes. According to a 2010 report prepared by the Florida Oceans and Coastal Council, "Much of the current infrastructure of coastal Florida will need to be replaced or improved during ongoing sea-level rise." The report puts the cost at $3 trillion by 2030.
Sea Levels Rising at Fastest Rate in 3,000 Years https://t.co/tJw97sB32t @ClimateReality @sierraclub @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/XEGYAA7Wue— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1456238035.0
"Eventually, the water comes into the roads, comes into the streets, comes into our homes, possibly," Miami Beach resident Norman Cohen told WSVN.
With the unmistakeable evidence of climate change right before them, 15 Florida mayors—including Republicans—earlier this year requested a meeting with Rubio to discuss the risk faced by their communities. The meeting never took place.
15 Florida Mayors to #MarcoRubio: We're Going Under, Take #ClimateChange Seriously https://t.co/rus7W3dYmA @350 https://t.co/7ESx0ZGvmL— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1453994059.0
Asked by CNN's Jake Tapper during a primary debate in March if he would honor the Miami mayor's request to acknowledge climate change, Rubio responded, "There has never been a time when the climate has not changed." He has called the investigation into Exxon Mobil's knowledge about climate change "nothing but a left-wing effort to demonize industries in America."
According to the website Dirty Energy Money, Marco Rubio, who grew up in West Miami, has accepted $637,273 from oil and coal companies and those who promote carbon-based business. Fivethirtyeight.com gives Rubio a 71 percent chance of retaining his Senate seat.
"It is deeply unfortunate that a state like Florida, which is on the frontlines of dealing with climate change impacts, is represented by a climate change-denying senator like Marco Rubio," said Michael Mann, distinguished professor of Atmospheric Science and director of the Earth System Science Center at Penn State University.
Meanwhile, the high waters are rising. This past weekend, roads and streets flooded in South Florida. A seawall in Fort Lauderdale couldn't hold back the tide, beaches continued to erode and untreated sewage spilled from manholes in Jacksonville during Hurricane Matthew.
Here’s a study from @univmiami showing a 400% increase in flooding in #MiamiBeach just since 2006.… https://t.co/FIvmrdOW24— John Morales (@John Morales)1476797960.0
Nevertheless, the unrelenting real estate boom continues in South Florida. Condo builders alone are adding 27 million square feet of living space in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward counties. Florida added 29,000 newly-minted real estate agents in 2015. The boom rolls on even as a Zillow study released in August showed that 900,000 Florida properties will be under water by 2100. A total of $188 billion in residential property is at risk of damage from storm surge.
The state won't have to wait until the end of the century to see the growing effects of sea level rise. Among some scientists, the question is when the exodus of Florida's population will begin.
"Miami and the whole of South Florida is not going to be like this anymore," Henry Briceño, a water-quality researcher at Florida International University, told The Globe and Mail. "And then, sooner or later, we'll have to move. Most of the population will have to move."
Real estate values are soaring now, but the implication is that they will eventually fall as homeowners look to get out. With 2.4 million Florida residents living within four feet of sea level, that may begin within the next couple of decades.
"As the reality of seawater rise sinks in, mortgage companies may conclude that 30 years is too long of a time to gamble on," said Philip Stoddard, a biology professor at Florida International University and the mayor of South Miami.
Our new report shows how coastal flooding is on the rise because of human-caused sea level rise… https://t.co/jameGJlZCG— Climate Central (@Climate Central)1476738242.0
Insurance can only go so far. Most flood insurance comes from the National Flood Insurance Program, which—prior to Hurricane Matthew—was $23 billion in debt. Matthew will add at least another $4 to $6 billion. Many private insurance companies have already realized that they can't rely on historical data to assess risk for future events that will be enhanced by climate change. But Florida and other states cap premiums for those living in more vulnerable areas, which removes any incentive for residents to own up to the risks they're taking.
New research published last week from scientists at Princeton University and Rutgers University showed that New York City could be hit by a Hurricane Sandy-like superstorm every two decades as a result of ocean warming and sea level rise, and said that the study could easily be replicated all along the East Coast. In Florida, the devastating effects of climate change are running headlong into the cadre of climate deniers, championed by Marco Rubio.
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The U.S. reported more than 55,000 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, in a sign that the outbreak is not letting up as the Fourth of July weekend kicks off.
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By Jason Bruck
Human actions have taken a steep toll on whales and dolphins. Some studies estimate that small whale abundance, which includes dolphins, has fallen 87% since 1980 and thousands of whales die from rope entanglement annually. But humans also cause less obvious harm. Researchers have found changes in the stress levels, reproductive health and respiratory health of these animals, but this valuable data is extremely hard to collect.
Researchers work with trained dolphins to learn more about their sensory abilities, seen here testing a dolphin's hearing. Jason Bruck / CC BY-ND
A Lot to Learn From Hormones<p>When sampling the blow, we are looking for hormones in mucus as these can be used to gauge psychological and physiological health. We are specifically interested in <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0114062" target="_blank">hormones like cortisol</a> and <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ygcen.2018.04.003" target="_blank">progesterone</a>, which indicate stress levels and reproductive ability respectively, but can also help determine overall health.</p><p>Additionally, blow samples can detect <a href="https://dx.doi.org/10.1128%2FmSystems.00119-17" target="_blank">respiratory pathogens</a> in the lungs or nasal passages - blowholes evolved from noses after all.</p><p>This health analysis is especially important in areas with oil spills as the chemicals can cause hormonal problems that harm <a href="https://www.carmmha.org/investigating-how-oil-spills-affect-dolphins-and-whales/" target="_blank">development, metabolism and reproduction</a> in dolphins.</p><p>Hormone samples can provide scientists with valuable data, but collecting them from intelligent and unpredictable animals is challenging.</p>
Cetacean Collaborators<p>To build a drone that can stealthily collect spray from moving dolphins, we needed more data on their eyesight and hearing, and this is data that couldn't be collected in the wild nor simulated in a lab.</p><p>We worked with dolphins at facilities like Dolphin Quest in Bermuda, which provides guests opportunities to learn about dolphins while allowing <a href="https://dolphinquest.com/about-us/our-story/" target="_blank">scientists access to animals for noninvasive research</a>. Here the dolphins can swim away if they choose not to work with us, so we had to design the study like a game; the way a kindergarten teacher entertains a class. If the dolphins aren't interested, we don't get to do the science.</p><p>Over the course of hundreds of sessions, we sought to answer two questions: What can dolphins hear and what can they see around their heads?</p><p>To test dolphin hearing, we set up microphones and cameras to record dolphin behavior as we played drone noise in the air. We analyzed the responses to each noise – such as how many dolphins looked at the speaker – and used these as a proxy for their ability to hear the sounds.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="5f31daf07a652b8d64a093b993ee4e96"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UjmQeH3vXHI?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Robodolphin doesn't look like a real dolphin, but it doesn't need to in order to train our drone pilots. C.J. Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND<p>To build robodolphin, we worked with dolphins trained to "chuff" or sneeze on command to measure spray characteristics. We used high-speed photography to see the dolphins' breath as it moved through the air. Then we conducted high resolution CT scans of a dolphin head and 3D-printed a replica of a nasal passage.</p><p>Now, we have a complete robodolphin and are tweaking its sprays to be nearly identical to the real thing. This will allow us to determine how close we need to get to collect the samples, and therefore, how quiet our drone needs to be.</p>
The replica dolphin blowhole was designed from a scan of a real blowhole passage, and the spray it produces closely matches the real thing. Alvin Ngo, Mitch Ford and CJ Barton / Oklahoma State University / CC BY-ND
A Bit of Practice, Then Into the Wild<p>In the next few months, we will test flights over robodolphin with existing drones to determine the timing and strategy for collection. From there, we will fabricate a low-noise drone that can fly fast enough and with sufficient maneuverability to capture samples from wild dolphins. Like a video game, we will use the visual field data to develop approach trajectories to stay in the visual blindspots.</p><p>We plan to test our drones on a truck-mounted robodolphin moving down a runway, then using a boat to simulate realistic conditions. The next steps will involve ocean testing with dolphins trained for open ocean swimming. These tests will determine if our devices can catch and hold the hormones as the drone flies back to a researcher's boat.</p><p>Finally, we will deploy the system to collect data on wild dolphins. Our first goal is to test resident dolphins – animals that live on the coasts and deal directly with boat and oil industry noise – which will allow us to learn more about stress resulting from human impacts.</p><p>Those samples are a way off, but if all goes well we will have a specially built drone capable of flying long distances and capturing samples undetected in a few years. The samples collected will allow researchers to do better science with impact on the animals they study.</p>
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Sunscreen pollution is accelerating the demise of coral reefs globally by causing permanent DNA damage to coral. gonzalo martinez / iStock / Getty Images Plus
On July 29, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill prohibiting local governments from banning certain types of sunscreens.
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Fireworks have taken a lot of heat recently. In South Dakota, fire experts have said President Trump's plan to hold a fireworks show is dangerous and public health experts have criticized the lack of plans to enforce mask wearing or social distancing. Now, a new study shows that shooting off fireworks at home may expose you and your family to dangerous levels of lead, copper and other toxins.
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Billions worth of valuable metals such as gold, silver and copper were dumped or burned last year as electronic waste produced globally jumped to a record 53.6 million tons (Mt), or 7.3 kilogram per person, a UN report showed on Thursday.
Environmental and Health Hazard<p>Experts say e-waste, which is now the world's fastest-growing domestic waste stream, poses serious environmental and health risks.</p><p>Simply throwing away electronic items without ensuring they get properly recycled leads to the loss of key materials such as iron, copper and gold, which can otherwise be recovered and used as primary raw materials to make new equipment, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions from extraction and refinement of raw materials.</p><p>Refrigerants found in electronic equipment such as fridge and air conditioners also contribute to global warming. A total of 98 Mt of CO2-equivalents, or about 0.3% of global energy-related emissions, were released into the atmosphere in 2019 from discarded refrigerators and ACs that were not recycled properly, the report said.</p><p>E-waste contains several toxic additives or hazardous substances, such as mercury and brominated flame retardants (BFR), and simply burning it or throwing it away could lead to serious health issues. Several studies have linked unregulated recycling of e-waste to adverse birth outcomes like stillbirth and premature birth, damages to the human brain or nervous system and in some cases hearing loss and heart troubles.</p><p>"Informal and improper e-waste recycling is a major emerging hazard silently affecting our health and that of future generations. One in four children are dying from avoidable environmental exposures," said Maria Neira, director of the Environment, Climate Change and Health Department at the World Health Organization. "One in four children could be saved, if we take action to protect their health and ensure a safe environment."</p>
Europe Leads the Way<p>While most of the e-waste was generated in Asia (24.9 Mt) in 2019, Europe led the charts on a per person basis with 16.2 kg per capita, the report said.</p><p>But the continent also recorded the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/the-eu-declares-war-on-e-waste/a-51108790" target="_blank">highest documented formal e-waste collection and recycling</a> rate at 42.5%, still below its target of 65%. Europe was well ahead of the others on this front. Asia ranked second with 11.7%.</p><p>The authors said while more that 70% of the world's population was covered by some form of e-waste policy or laws, not much was being done toward implementation and enforcement of the regulations to encourage the take-up of a collection and recycling infrastructure due to lack of investment and political motivation.</p><p>"You have to think about new economic systems," said Kühr.</p><p>One approach could be that consumers no longer buy the products, but only the service they offer. The device would remain the property of the maker, who would then have an interest in offering his customers the best service and the necessary equipment. The maker would also be interested in designing his products in such a way that they are easier to repair and easier to recycle, Kühr said.</p>
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