By Bob Bunting
Florida’s Suncoast has climate-induced impacts and disruptions that are becoming more serious with time. We are experiencing:
• Sea level rise.
• Hurricanes and related storm surges that are more intense than ever before.
• Increased flooding.
• More occurrences of red tide.
• Less biodiversity.
• Greater impacts on human health.
These are real threats to our region. Rather than ignore them, we must find ways to mitigate them – and to take advantage of the opportunities they present to our growing climate economy.
The Climate Adaptation Center Inc. is Southwest Florida’s only nonprofit completely dedicated to our state’s unique climate challenges in our increasingly warmer world. The center’s mission is to educate and inform decision makers in government, the private sector and academia – and to work with these sectors to find effective solutions to lower the risk of climate induced or enhanced disruptions.
Led by a group of scientists, entrepreneurs and community leaders, the center helps facilitate and expedite regional actions that are cost effective, timely and capable of spurring economic growth. It is making an impact by predicting hurricanes and protecting the area from them – while also working with engineers to stabilize eroding beaches and much more.
In short, the Climate Adaptation Center has provided the community with support and results that are leading to adaptation and mitigation. During the past two years, for example, the Climate Adaptation Center has hosted conferences featuring nearly 30 experts who have shared their expertise with the Suncoast area.
Last year’s conference delivered the first-ever Florida Climate Weather Forecast for 2030, 2040 and 2050 – and it offered informed discussion on how we can help our communities adapt to the new normal.
Here are some things we can do:
• Use existing technology to make our homes and buildings more energy efficient.
• Raise our roads in critical areas to ensure resilience, and to provide safe evacuation routes from sensitive areas like the barrier islands.
• Update and upgrade building codes so that our structures can weather storms.
• Design our beaches to protect shoreline from higher tides and storm surge; indeed, Climate Adaptation Center scientists are already assisting on a shoreline project on the north end of Longboat Key.
Meanwhile, companies can work to expand their service offerings to include products or processes that can reduce the effects of climate change. And students can use their knowledge for the noble purpose of creating entrepreneurial solutions to help protect our way of life in Florida and beyond.
During the last five hurricane seasons, there have been more than 100 named storms. That has set an all-time record, and the Climate Adaptation Center Inc.’s 2022 hurricane season forecast calls for 22 more storms – with potentially five of them being major Category 3-5 storms. That’s why all of us should join in the effort to find ways to resolve our local climate issues.
For details, visit https://www.theclimateadaptationcenter.org/
Bob Bunting is the CEO of the Climate Adaptation Center, Inc., which is based in Sarasota. This piece first appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which is part of the Invading Sea collaborative of Florida editorial boards focused on the threats posed by the warming climate.