Climate Change and Florida
Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Climate change has a great potential to affect Florida and in many ways already has. Temperatures are at all time highs and sea levels are rising around the globe. The numbers may look small, a couple of degrees or a few inches, but small changes can have large effects and, much greater changes are likely if we do not address this crisis now. Florida has a very unique and diverse plant and animal population. Invasive species are always a problem and Florida has more than her share. As of 2015, 26% of the animal species and almost one third of the plant species in Florida were non-native and considered invasive. As climatic conditions change, our native species, which have adapted to the unique conditions Florida has to offer, are going to lose their advantage making it much easier for invasives to get a foothold. Rising sea levels bring the salty ocean water farther into Florida’s estuaries and lagoons which are important habitats for many species. Rises in salinity will affect the very sensitive spawn of the many species that use these lagoons to hatch and rear their young. Salt water from rising seas will further inundate Florida’s fresh water aquifers making water for homes and agriculture even scarcer than it is becoming today. This will happen right at a time when our need for fresh water is increasing because of rising air temperatures and increasing population. In addition, years like 2020, with record tropical storm activity, will become commonplace and the intensity of the storms will increase as the sea surface temperatures increase. Those are just a few of the ways global warming is today, and will continue in the future, to affect the way we humans and the diversity animals and plants that live in Florida, must adapt or perish.