The predicted effects of global climate change on Florida’s environmental resources are significant.  Florida has miles of coastline, bays and estuaries, and low-lying areas, making it one of the most vulnerable states to climate change.

The climate changes of prime concern to all Floridians are: increasing greenhouse gases, increasing air temperatures, water vaporization, ocean temperature, and sea levels.

Levels of greenhouse gases (GHS) such as carbon dioxide and methane in the atmosphere are increasing 100 times faster in recent decades than they have in the past 650,000 years. This increase is making the oceans more acidic which is having an adverse impact on coral, shrimp, and other marine organisms. The average air temperature has been increasing since the mid-20 th century, also due to increases in GHS.

Water vapor, which is the most prevalent GHS, is a major player in climate change and is being watched carefully by scientists. An increase in  temperature allows for more water vapor in air and more water in air causes higher temperatures. Water vapor is estimated to double the climate warming caused by carbon dioxide. The atmospheric column of average water vapor concentration has increased by 1.2 % since the 1980s.

Ocean temperatures increased 0.3 degrees Celsius between the 1950s and the 1990s and continued temperature rise is predicted. A higher ocean temperature has already led to periodic marine die-offs. The combined higher air and water temperatures are more favorable to invasive exotic plants as seen in the harmful algae bloom infestations we see in our springs and rivers.

Of particular concern to Florida is sea level rise. The sea levels around Florida have been slowly rising at 1 inch or less per decade.  As ocean temperature accelerates, so will sea level rise which will threaten coastal development and the ecological integrity of natural communities in estuaries, tidal wetlands, and tidal rivers. These low-lying areas will be more prone to flooding and storm surges.  Beach erosion is already a major concern in many of the barrier island communities of Florida and sea level rise will only compound this problem.

Coastal communities in the Miami-to-Palm Beach and Pensacola corridors need to be planning for further saltwater intrusion problems due to sea level rise. The fresh water supplied by the Florida Aquifer is anticipated to become contaminated leading to water shortages effecting major parts of the population. Secondary water supplies will be expensive and will be in short supply.

Coastal communities will need to plan for infrastructure expenses due to sea level rise. Roads, bridges and buildings will all be subject to damage due to severe storms bringing high winds and flood waters. These predicted climate change related expenses will be reflected in higher insurance premiums and higher property taxes for coastal property owners.

The Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida recognizes climate change as a reality backed by credible scientific knowledge. The Caucus along with the Democratic Party supports all efforts to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change and will promote only those candidates who acknowledge this prospective.