We offer these suggestions for how you can help address sea-level rise, raise our region’s call for help in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., and mitigate your contributions to the impacts of climate change, which include sea-level rise.
At Your Home
- Buy flood insurance, even if not required by your mortgage company. Just because your address is outside the 100-year flood zone doesn’t mean you’re not at risk. You just face a lesser flood risk. Take advantage of today’s lower rates. Many Houston homes flooded after Hurricane Harvey not because of rainfall, but because the antiquated stormwater system couldn’t drain away the flood waters.
- Educate yourself on the future flood risk in your community and neighborhood, including on this interactive map. Ask community leaders about plans for infrastructure improvements for flood protection. Find out how they’re taking sea-level rise into account.
- Explore options for flood protection, such as panels that can be inserted in doorways to keep flood waters at bay. We must own our personal flood risk, much like we harden and prepare our homes for hurricanes. Because a consequence of a warming planet is more frequent and more powerful storms.
- Reduce impervious surfaces in your driveway or patio. Use materials that allow water to seep into the ground. Preserve swales, those shallow slopes and contours along roads, sidewalks and hopefully, at the foot of your driveway. These hold water and keep water off the roads. Don’t fill in the swale when repaving your driveway.
- For short-term and temporary flooding, have sand bags ready. Raise your air conditioner off the ground. Check for roof leaks. Consider waterproof wrapping, as some beach hotels are doing to waterproof ground floors.
In Your Neighborhood
- Talk to your friends and family about climate change and sea-level rise.
- Convene a gathering at your church, in your neighborhood, at your school or place of business to share information about sea-level rise. Engage leaders on what needs to be done to adapt to the change coming our way, and how to mitigate today’s behaviors so as not to make matters worse. Send us a summary of what people thought. We might like to publish it. And let us know when your meeting is scheduled. We might like to attend.
- Help identify solutions. Are there any parks or public spaces that can be better used to hold water or deal with flooding? Can neighborhood volunteers plant more trees — and the right trees? Can neighborhood kids be put to work on climate projects like replanting mangroves?
- Contact your state and federal representatives and senators. Ask what’s on their agenda regarding sea-level rise. Ask them to support policies that place a price on carbon emissions. Ask your representative in Congress to join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
- Attend meetings of your city or county government. During public comments, encourage them to address questions and plans related to sea-level rise. Ask them to sign the Mayors Climate Protection Agreement or join a regional climate compact, such as the South Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Let us know what you hear.
- Study what candidates at all levels of government say about sea-level rise. Ask their positions at candidate forums. Support those willing to take action to reduce greenhouse gases, who support goals for renewable energy and energy efficiency, who want to create a more competitive energy marketplace for solar and wind power, and who support a world agreement to limit carbon pollution, such as The Paris Accord.
To reduce your contributions to a warming planet, consider these steps:
- Install solar panels. Every roof is different, but it’s more affordable than ever. Group buying through co-ops gets you a discount. Plus there is a 30 percent federal tax credit through 2019, which drops to 26 percent 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.
- If your house is on septic, switch to sewer lines, if available.
- Plant resilient, native plants around your home.
- Make your home more energy efficient by adding insulation, caulking, weather stripping, new windows, a water heater blanket and Energy Star appliances.
- Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Replace traditional lightbulbs with LED light bulbs, which last longer and use up to 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescents.
- Lower your thermostat in the winter and raise it in the summer.
- Hang your clothes to dry and avoid the dryer.
- Get rid of your second refrigerator, especially if it is more than 10 years old.
- Buy used products and recycle items you no longer use. There is a significant footprint in the manufacturing, transport and disposal of consumer products and packaging.
- Eat locally grown foods. Transporting food requires petroleum.
- Bring your own bags and buy in bulk.
- Choose paperless billing for your bank account, credit card and phone bills.
- Get out of your car and walk, bike, carpool or take public transportation.
- Avoid travel, when possible, by using videoconferencing tools like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Go To Meeting.
- Buy an electric vehicle, hybrid or plug-in electric hybrid. At the least, consider miles per gallon the next time you buy a car. Go to NextCarPledge.com for more information.
- When driving your car, know that speeding and acceleration can reduce mileage as much as 33 percent. Properly inflated tires and regular maintenance can increase fuel efficiency. Empty your trunk because extra weight wastes gas. Combine your errands for fewer trips.
- Save fresh water (which takes energy to supply) by washing your car less often, xeriscaping your garden, installing drip irrigation and getting water-efficient shower heads, faucets, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines.
- Turn off the timer on your sprinkler and water only when necessary.