Aerial view of Punta Gorda, Florida
Punta Gorda, Florida Aerial view of residential neighborhood. © Carlton Ward, Jr.

Stories in Florida

Florida

Adapting to a Changing Climate: Leadership in action.

Impacts of climate change

Climate change is already beginning to transform life on Earth. Around the globe, seasons are shifting, temperatures are climbing and sea levels are rising. 

Since 1880, our changing climate has led to a global sea level rise of about 8 inches and recent research indicates that sea levels have been rising at a rate of 0.14 inches per years since the 1990’s. Sea level rise greatly increases the risk of flooding for coastal cities, and one of the primary impacts from climate change affecting our coastal cities and communities is more frequent storms that can cause increased damages to our growing infrastructure.

Becoming Resilient

Climate resilience is the ability of a system to absorb stresses imposed by climate change and still function while adapting and becoming better prepared to handle future climate impacts.

Along the front lines of sea level rise and impacts of climate change near Fort Lauderdale’s famous beaches, the ninth annual Southeast Florida Regional Climate Leadership Summit played out in front of a room of more than 650 business, government, nonprofit and university climate thought leaders.

“Lending our voice to inform audiences that are making decisions about climate policy and taking action on climate issues, is critical to combatting climate change and its impacts,” said Chris Bergh, The Nature Conservancy’s South Florida program manager and participant in the summit.

The Summit focused on resilience—how we can and must plan adaptation strategies for communities to meet the challenges of climate change. This includes the financial investment needed to ensure that infrastructure such as roads, stormwater systems and energy supply are in place and appropriately designed to ameliorate risks.

As the Conservancy and other climate leaders actively work to increase resiliency to current and future impacts, the focus is on managing threats to urban centers confronted with more frequent and intense storms, raised roads to combat flooding and a reduction of carbon emissions. Also on the agenda: supporting an increase in solar energy, encouraging the use of green infrastructure—trees and green rooftops—and championing affordable housing to reduce long commutes.

There are many steps we can take now that will make a difference to our collective future. Conservancy teams in Florida and across the world concentrate on climate issues in their day-to-day work. Partnering with the  Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, The NatureConservancy’s Bergh has led teams that to develop natural systems and agriculture strategies for the compact’s climate action plan. The plan will guide efforts for the years ahead and serve as a resource for local governments and others interested in reducing the causes of climate change, while adapting to some of the unavoidable consequences already impacting the region.

Help us continue our conservation work in Florida.

Punta Gorda aerial view
Punta Gorda Aerial view. © Carlton Ward, Jr.