New York – In advance of Earth Day, a new research brief from non-partisan public policy organization Demos sounds a wake up call for policymakers and voters: “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Florida” lays out how Floridians’ health, economy, and environment are already suffering the effects of climate change and how continued inaction on climate change promises dire consequences in the coming decades.
As “The Economic and Environmental Impacts of Climate Change in Florida” explains, the complex array of influences on Florida’s climate makes it one of the most vulnerable states to the impacts of climate change, including increases in sea levels, beach erosion and ocean acidification. Such natural disasters have immediate and long-lasting impacts on one of the state’s most powerful economic drivers: tourism. After Florida was struck by several hurricanes in 2004, causing disruptions and evacuations, surveys of potential tourists found that 20 percent would not return the next year.
Moreover, leading climate researchers have serious concerns about Floridians’ future economic security if climate change remains unchecked. As the research brief demonstrates: Florida’s population is growing and commercial and real estate development are again increasing in the coastal zone, where the threat of increases in sea levels and in storm severity are greatest. For a one-foot increase in sea level, property losses will amount to many billions of dollars, more than $4 billion in South Florida alone.
The report is authored by Robert Repetto, author of the 2011 book America’s Climate Problem: The Way Forward. He is a Senior Fellow in the United Nations Foundation’s climate and energy program. In the report, Repetto calls on Florida’s leaders, whether in politics and government or in the private sector, to support strong, immediate policies at the state, national and international level to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to mitigate the growing risks of global warming.
“A serious commitment to combating climate change is the only way to spare Florida’s state economy and natural environment the certain fate that’s beginning to be played out now,” explained Dr. Mijin Cha, Senior Policy Analyst at Demos. “When policies are being drafted, leaders must consider the real long-term environmental and economic impact our decision will have. Short-sighted planning has gotten Florida where it is today, and it is not where it can afford to be tomorrow.”
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