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President's Letter - October 2023

The evidence for climate change and global warming continues to mount, in ways that everyone can see. This summer, the weather has been very strange, and most of the aberrant and extreme weather events can be explained by a warming globe.

Specifically, the formation of aggressive and monstrous hurricanes that intensify radically over record-breaking warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans. The devastating wildfires in Canada and Hawaii are the result of significant and unprecedented droughts that provide dry timber fuel for these fires. Flooding events are occurring across the globe, and especially in unexpected sites, including Vermont and the southwest United States.

Dr. Ariaan Purich of Australia’s Monash University has been studying sea ice in Antarctica, finding a 36% reduction in sea ice expanse in 2023 compared to area coverage from 1979-2022.

This is concerning because the melted ice adds water to the southern oceans while the open water absorbs the sun’s heat much more effectively than the white ice that reflects it. Warm water is bigger in volume compared to cooler water, which raises sea levels.

In addition, the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service reports that the temperatures in the northern hemisphere in June through August 2023 were the warmest ever recorded. And here, small increases in sea-level are already impacting the local communities and ecosystems around Tampa Bay.

The St. Petersburg tidal gauge has recorded an increase of 7.8 inches since 1946, with the most recent readings showing the most significant changes, according to Libby Carnahan, the Florida Sea Grant agent for Pinellas County.

While there are some who doubt that human impacts related to carbon levels have increased global warming and are the basic cause of climate change, it seems reasonable to take action to reduce carbon accumulation – just in case it is the reason that the planet is getting warmer.

We do know that we won’t like the results of a warmer Earth, no matter where we live. And for us in Florida, and specifically in the Tampa Bay area, every hurricane season provides good reasons to work collaboratively to reduce our individual carbon footprints.

So what can we do? There are many ways to participate to save our world:

- Eat lower on the food chain – growing beef, pigs, and chickens for food is generally carbon expensive.

- Avoid processed food and purchase locally grown foods – reduce the expense of transporting them. These are also healthier for us.

- Increase your home and car efficiency by using efficiency-rated appliances, sufficient insulation, carpool, and consider solar panels and high-mileage vehicles. Keep your thermostat higher in summer and lower in winter and use fans or wear sweaters for comfort.

- Support conservation land acquisition, management, and restoration programs. Plant native trees and plants.

I know you will think of other ideas. Thanks for letting me share this with you. I’m worried, and want to ensure a good future for our world, the one we leave for my children and grandchildren. And yours.


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