In 2015, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Francois Hollande, the then President of France spoke about both the current and future effects of global warming. “We have a single mission: to protect and hand on the planet to the next generation” Hollande explained. His words hold truth and relevance to the issues of climate change. It is imperative that we recognize the dangers created by climate change such as carbon toxification of the air.
Toxification is caused by large amounts of greenhouse gases which degrade and corrode the structure of the Earth’s ozone layer. Erosion of ozone layer affects the equilibrium of weather patterns, causing storms, surges, hurricanes, droughts, fires, and floods. These natural disasters are getting worse with rising temperatures around the world. According to Robert Repetto, and a study done by the Sandia National Laboratory, Florida is one of the states most vulnerable to devastating climate change impacts. These climate change effects may continue for many generations to come.
Florida, which is historically hot and humid, has already put itself and its environment at the risk of climate change effects, as evidenced by the rising sea levels and eroding coastlines. The costs of fluctuating weather due to climate change also poses a threat to the growing ecosystem and coastal populations of animals and humans. The fluctuating weather around Florida is better explained by El Niño and the Southern Oscillation, also known as ENSO, which is a periodic fluctuation in sea surface temperature (El Niño) and the air pressure of the overlying atmosphere (Southern Oscillation) across the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The hurricanes and surges are expected to double the damage and economic loss every decade.
In the article, “Economic and Environment Impacts Of Climate Change In Florida”, Repetto states that the worst of these storms is yet to come. Due to their severity, hurricanes are topics of great concern in the scientific community. Climate change is expected to cause financial loss worth billions of dollars over the next 50 years, $40 billion to be exact, and all of it is from Florida alone.
To get a further understanding of this issue, I went on a volunteer trip to the Saint Augustine Brewery in Saint Augustine, Florida. The brewery hosted a climate change seminar where they brought in a public archeologist of the North East/ East Central Florida region, Emily Jane Murray, M.A. Murray spoke for the North Florida Land Trust, a non-profit organization that focuses on eco-friendly alternatives, historical relevance, and archeological studies.
Murray explained that the geological side of climate change and global warming are working together to affect our state,
“Global Warming effects more than just the climate and weather patterns. We go out every day and look at the coastlines and other areas throughout Florida to identify archeological sites, just to find a lot of the hard work has been eroded away every year.”
Studies have shown that coastline disappearance due to water rising and storm erosion, has grown within the last five to eight years. Murray presented charts to help give a visual representation of the loss of shorelines within the past decade compared to past examination. After the seminar, everyone had a chance to ask questions and have a few popular drinks presented by the brewery. A tour was conducted, and we were told about the reasons for the discussions being hosted by the brewery.
The Saint Augustine Brewery minimizes its environmental impact by operating a large scale eco-friendly water system. Their water systems for gin, vodka and, bourbon production has a renewable water filtration system that saves water and electricity. The grains are soaked and put into containers that are taken in twice a week by a local farmer; the farmer grows the grains for the brewery. In the end, the brewery saves money, energy and water.
Later in the week, I attended a local cleanup which was held on Jacksonville’s public beach near the Jacksonville Beach Pier. There I stumbled across two students who are currently biology majors at the University of North Florida. They introduced me to Lisa Blizzard, the coordinator for the beach cleanup event. Blizzard is one of the administrators that brought the Sea Sheppard Conservation Society into existence. The cleanup was beyond enlightening, with the wonderful conversations along the beautiful beach that I know and love. However, what truly made the event enlightening was the knowledge I was able to gain from other environmental stewards.
As large as climate change seems, small groups of individuals working together can still make an impact. The beach is like a second home to me and to know that it may one day be gone is a likelihood that I would prefer to remain just as a thought. The cleanup ended around noon, the cold morning air was gone, and people started to take their stationed position on the beach for yoga, sports, and the everyday civilian tanning. Our jobs were done and after many conversations, I got to speak face-to-face with both Lily Nagel and Genna Troiso, biology majors and conservation activists.
When asked about how global warming is affecting our oceans, Nagel explained the process of ocean acidification affecting crab, lobster, and other shelled ocean dwellers’ calcification. They are not able to keep healthy because their shell growth is getting stalled due to the lack of calcium. Other events like the overrunning amount of hydrogen ions in our waters that cause ocean acidification is a growing problem. The subject is touchy because of the current study of how these ocean dwellers are currently adapting to the calcium carbonate and whether it is a benevolent factor in a form of evolution or a malevolent factor to the oceans’ occupants. Acidification does have a lot of negative effects and if it does pose as a malevolent outcome, then it could disrupt a large portion of the local sea food resources, as well as the growth of algae and red tide. Algae will continue to grow due to the lack of local water bottom dwellers and the water population will be in jeopardy.
The scientific community will continue finding alternatives for detoxing the earth and ways to help bring back the earth’s equilibrium. There are many explanations for what might happen with global warming and climate change, as it continues to pose threat to the immediate future and many generations to come. Florida is home to many people and that alone should be enough to compel people to reach out to their leaders and take a stand for the earth and its inhabitants.
by Meghan Dranguet