FLORIDA PUBLIC EMPLOYEES
Message from Florida Public Employees founder Robert Asencio
The 2016 hurricane season started yesterday—lasting until November 30—and it is important to make sure we are all prepared in the event that South Florida is in the path of a strong storm. This means buying water, non-perishable food, batteries, a radio, and flashlights; installing shutters to protect our homes from flying debris. If you have a portable generator, be careful to make sure that it is not in or near your house, which could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts “a 70 percent likelihood of 10 to 16 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 4 to 8 could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 1 to 4 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5; winds of 111 mph or higher).” Dr. Gerry Bell, lead seasonal hurricane forecaster with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says the “prediction for this season suggests we could see more hurricane activity than we’ve seen in the last three years, which were below normal.”
Despite Florida’s natural history as an inevitable victim of tropical storms and hurricanes, we do have some control over how we are affected by weather phenomena. For the last few years, each successive year has set a new record for heat—and this heating contributes to the intensity and frequency of rain events. This has largely been due to human-led energy consumption and deforestation, which pump billions of pounds of carbon dioxide into our atmosphere each year, and acts as an insulator—which prevents heat from sunlight from returning to space.
Hotter temperatures are also causing glacial sheets to melt, adding to the amount of water in our oceans and rivers. Global sea levels rose about 6.7 inches in the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century—which makes the future of low-lying South Florida especially vulnerable. University of Miami Geological Science professor Dr. Harold Wanless predicts “With a further two feet of sea level rise (possibly before 2048), most of the barrier islands (of south Florida and the world) will become abandoned and the people relocated; at the same time, low areas (e.g. Sweetwater and Hialeah bordering the Everglades) will become flooded more frequently and therefore become increasingly difficult places to live.”
We have to do something. We have to spread the information about the fragility and beauty of our natural world to inspire everyday citizens, entrepreneurs, community leaders, and politicians to act and take the right steps to ensure the survival of Florida, so that her wonders—natural and man-made alike—can be enjoyed for generations to come.
Florida House of Representatives – District 118
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