What If Everyone’s Wrong About Climate Change in South Florida?

What if everyone’s wrong about climate change in South Florida (and beyond)?   

Excerpt: On Friday, federal officials released their followup, the Fourth National Climate Assessment, which over the course of 1,000 pages looks at how climate change is already disrupting life in the United States — with more hurricanes, wildfires, heat waves and other disasters — and what communities are doing to deal with it. 

The report — produced by 300 scientists, many from 13 federal departments and agencies, and overseen by the U.S. Global Change Research Program — warns that humans must take action now “to avoid substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades.” 

“You’re going to be seeing heavier rainfall, an increase in hot days, a decrease in colder days and you’re going to have all the issues with sea level rise,” said David Easterling with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversaw the release of the report. Florida, in particular, has been seeing an increase in what he called “sunny day flooding,” with water washing across roads and sidewalks on days when there’s not a cloud in the sky. 

The report notes, as evidence, that the U.S. is already 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was 100 years ago and that the seas that surround the country are on average 9 inches higher and climbing. 

“The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities,” Easterling said during a conference call with reporters. 

Bottom Line: Probably more than any other particular political football this one annoys me the most because routinely no one in the mix seems to be an honest broker when it comes to the topic. Let’s start with anyone who denies climate change.  

Climate change is real, always happening and always has been. We’ve had periods of extreme heat, ice ages and everything in-between. Earth has experienced a minimum of three mass extinction events due to these changes. So again, to assert there isn’t climate change is simply absurd. Also, all of that occurred prior to modern human activity, which is why statements like this: “The global average temperature is much higher and is rising more rapidly than anything modern civilization has experienced, and this warming trend can only be explained by human activities.” 

That’s the only possible explanation? That’s almost equally as absurd as suggesting there isn’t climate change. Again, the most extreme periods of documented heat on this planet happened well before we were around to mess with it. By definition that’s a false statement as well so here we are back to square one in a political football that shouldn’t be but is because of the lack of pragmatism all around.  

It’s not a question as to if we have an impact on the planet. The question is how much of one and what we might sensibly be able to do to meaningfully make a difference. I’ll give you an easy example to digest about how we negatively impact the environment. What happens when you place a solid object in water? Does it displace water leading to a rise in water overall? Of course, right? So, after hundreds of years of many societies using our oceans as garbage cans, countless sunken vessels and more vessels in and on the water than ever before you’d naturally have some degree of sea rise from those factors alone, aside from even getting into temperature conversations. 

Of course, we could and should be better stewards of our environment. Less pollution is better for society in just about every way including directly impacting air quality aside from other factors. These are the conversations we should be having but instead, we can’t seem to get to the pragmatic middle ground. We’ll often hear about how common-sense doesn’t exist anymore. This topic might be exhibit A. 

Photo by: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images

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