The Fourth National Climate Assessment report has a dire warning for all humans within its more than 1,650 pages: People need to take immediate action on global warming to avoid "substantial damages to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health and well-being over the coming decades."
The report produced by 300 scientists and 13 federal agencies outlines the devastating consequences in Florida and the rest of the southeastern United States, including:
- Extreme coastal and inland flooding: The combined effects of extreme rainfall and sea level rise will increase the frequency of flooding in coastal and inland areas, to the point where it will be a daily occurrence in some cities. The report also says these higher sea levels will cause storm surges to travel farther inland, causing more damage to property. "Extreme rainfall events have increased in frequency and intensity in the Southeast, and there is high confidence they will continue to increase in the future," the report said. "These projected increases would directly affect the vulnerability of the Southeast’s coastal and low-lying areas. Natural resources, industry, the local economy, and the population of the region are at increasing risk to these extreme events."
- Mosquito-borne diseases: Warming temperatures have the potential to expand mosquito habitat and disease risk, especially from the species Aedes aegypti. This specific mosquito can spread dengue, chikungunya and Zika viruses. "Climate change is expected to make conditions more suitable for transmission of certain vector-borne diseases, including year-round transmission in southern Florida," the report stated. "Summer increases in dengue cases are expected across every state in the Southeast."
- Hurricanes: High-intensity hurricanes, such as Hurricane Irma, are expected to become more common in the future due to climate change. Irma, the fifth recorded hurricane with winds of 185 mph or higher in the whole of the Atlantic Basin, was kept extremely strong partially due to the very warm waters it passed over on its journey to Florida, which exceeded 86 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the report. "Rapid intensification of storms is also more likely as the climate warms, even though there is also some historical evidence that the same conditions that lead to this intensification also act to weaken hurricane intensity near the U.S. coast, but it is unclear whether this relationship will continue as the climate warms further," the report said. Irma reportedly claimed 84 lives and cost about $50 billion.
- Invasive species: Natural ecosystem will be greatly modified by changing winter temperature extremes, wildfire patterns, sea levels, hurricanes, floods, droughts and warming ocean temperatures, to the point where species are expected to redistribute. In South Florida, the Burmese python, a problematic invasive species that has decimated the mammal population in the Everglades, will be favored by the changing winters. The warmer winter temperatures will help the Burmese python and other problematic invasive species move north.
- Coral reefs: The report makes clear that the situation for coral reef ecosystems are "particularly dire." These biologically diverse ecosystems have had high mortality rates in the Florida Keys because of warming ocean temperatures, nutrient enrichment, overfishing and coastal development – all leading to reefs dying. "When coral reefs are lost, coastal communities lose the many benefits provided by these valuable ecosystems, including lost tourism opportunities, a decline in fisheries and a decrease in wave protection," according to the report.
- Heat-related health threats: Winters and summers will be warmer in every city within about 30 years, according to Vox. That includes Orlando, where summer highs and winter lows are expected to go up by more than 3 degrees Fahrenheit. The National Climate Assessment report finds these warming temperatures will increase risks for outdoor jobs and activities. "Workers in the agriculture, forestry, hunting and fishing sectors together with construction and support, waste, and remediation services work are the most highly vulnerable to heat-related deaths in the United States," the report said.
- Toxic algae blooms: The increase in intensity and frequency of toxic algal blooms has been linked to warming ocean temperatures, acidification and deoxygenation. This year's red tide outbreak in Florida caused the deaths of thousands of marine animals and led to respiratory problems for nearby residents.
"Climate change tends to compound existing vulnerabilities and exacerbate existing inequities," the report stated. "Already poor regions, including those found in the Southeast, are expected to continue incurring greater losses than elsewhere in the United States."
It's a good thing Florida elected Gov. Rick Scott, who reportedly banned the words 'climate change' from his administration, to the U.S. Senate, as well as Republican gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis, who once said, "I’m not a global-warming person. I don't want that label on me."
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