Florida Climate Change Action Plan 

Florida aquifers

​I. Problem Statement

 

The Florida Climate Change Action Plan is a series of new policy options that identifies and provides continued research to the state of Florida's impact on climate change. The Florida government system faces a direct impact from the existing climate crisis. The United States Federal government's initiative on climate change has provided guidelines for the state government system to follow which includes 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity on a net annual basis by 2030, including 50 percent 24/7 carbon pollution-free electricity, 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027, 65 percent reduction in scope 1 and 2 greenhouse gas emissions from federal operations by 2030 from 2008 levels, climate resilient infrastructure and operations and climate sustainability. These goals of the federal government are requirements of federal operations but the states have a moral obligation to create statewide policies that require state operation systems to function at the standards and capacities as the federal government. The Florida Climate Change Action Plan includes a series of vital components that require the state to process policies that are economically sustainable, environmentally resilient, and politically feasible. 

II. Introduction

The Florida environment is a delicate working organism that functions with all living species and natural elements. The process of Florida government on the environment is to ensure that the safety of our communities, living species are protected against the harshness of natural elements. Natural disasters are obstacles that the Florida government tackles every day and continues to be the challenge of our society as new problems arise. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been countless wildfires, infrastructure failures, tropical storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, species endangerment, increased population of invasive species, water pollution, food insecurity, biological outbreaks, air pollution and chemical spills. Our world is changing and our moral obligation to combat these natural disasters is evident. 

Background History

Florida is home to a population of 21.78 million people since 2021. Florida is projected to be the third most populous state in the entire United States of America. The recent climate change initiatives regard a emphasis on the human-induced impacts on the sustainability of coastal environments. To address the climate change impacts, the state of Florida must invest in the collection of statistical analysis of historical data to quantify trends in variability of coastal ecosystems. Rising sea levels trend and the Florida peninsula takes on heavy storms. Floridians must prepare every year for hurricane season and the state of Florida issues public health and emergency preparedness supplies, information, and public services. Sea level rise trends are a critical factor for the sustainability and proposed changes to coastal watersheds, the appropriate policies and techniques must be in place to ensure effective restoration of impacted Floridian livelihoods. The General Circulation Models (GCMs) are simulations that use historical conditions in the state of Florida to project typical storm and weather patterns. GCM climate projections use a guide (a sensitivity analysis) using a regional-scale hydrologic model and water management model, is conducted to understand the vulnerability of the water management system with respect to environmental restoration, water supply, and flood control due to future changes in the climate regime. This Action Plan describes current work on the assessment of climate change projections and their potential impacts on the management of agriculture, biodiversity, coast & oceans, forestry, infrastructure, public health & emergency preparedness, water, and clean energy. 

Water Resource System 

Water is a vital element of life to Florida. Florida aquifer systems are underground areas that were formed and can hold large amounts of water. The water underground is called ground water. There are two major aquifers in Florida: the Floridan (the whole state, and the Biscayne (South Florida). The Floridan aquifer stretches for 82,000 square miles beneath Florida and parts of Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina. Trash, sewage, litter, oil, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, and other pollutants can contaminate the watershed and the water flowing across it. Florida's aquifer system is extremely vulnerable to pollution because it is near the surface in many areas. Wetlands are important to the health of the watershed system that brings wildlife and keeps other natural resources sustained. Conservation of Florida's water systems are vital to the regional water resources and environmental protection policies across the state. Rising global temperatures and rising sea levels put the Florida aquifer and surface water systems at risk. The political ecology of Florida's water resource system must be resilient to the environmental impacts that are projected for Floridians to endure, as our government continues to combat environmental disasters. Rising temperatures means that Floridians are working longer hours in the summer, the El Niño patterned storms cause hurricanes, tropical storms, typhoons, and tornadoes frequently. Coastal areas are being submerged as the rising tides come in giving Floridians limited time to prepare for the next natural disaster. Yet, Florida has become more resilient after every hurricane season and made new adjustments to political ecology every legislative session. 

Restoration of Florida's Everglade system and water resource systems requires urban and agricultural users to evaluate metrics, hydrologists, and biologists to conduct research on climate change. Generations of scientists and political ecologist must work together to limit Florida's vulnerabilities to climate change and increase our resilience to natural weather changes. The water element is fundamental to the livelihood of all Floridians which means we must enhance the GCM systems. Hydroclimatic drivers for rainfall and potential evapotranspiration (PET) that determine Florida's rainfall, temperature and other meteorological parameters. Seasonal and temporal changes to water resource supplies involves the constant scientific analysts for general trends and new discoveries. Mesoscale is an intermediate scale between the scales of weather systems and of microclimates, on which storms and other phenomena occur. Mesoscale phenomena within the climatic spatial patterns result in the changes in our sea and lakes. Florida surface water and ground water can also be affected by mesoscale patterns because of the exposure to other pollutants including soil, air, human waste or byproduct waste. 

In the 21st century climate change initiatives, Floridians have shown a higher skill in simulating observed climatic regime changes and predictions of future climate change under increased greenhouse gas emissions. 

Biodiversity

Biodiversity, also called biological diversity, is the variety of life found in a place on Earth or the total variety of life on Earth. A common measure of this variety, called species richness, is the count of species in a area. Biodiversity also encompasses the genetic variety within each species and the variety of ecosystems that species create. Biodiversity also includes the range of ecological communities that species form. Biodiversity means protecting the different types of trees from long pine, short pine, palm trees, oak trees, sap trees and many others in the state of Florida. Biodiversity also means regulating species of fish every fishing season to limit over-fishing for certain types of popular fish that are easily caught in regions of the state. A typical example of this biodiversity protection would be Florida red snappers, which are a bright red colored fish that is found commonly in the Big Bend area of the Gulf Coast. Florida has limits on the red snapper fishing until the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation regulations allow for certain seasonal fishing periods. Florida Statute Title XXVIII Natural Resources; Conservation, Reclamation, and Use Chapter 379 Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) covers the regulations and authorities of the FWC that help keep human from over-fishing certain fish species.

Currently, scientific researchers are finding new methodology and creating theories about the impacts of climate change and biodiversity. Extinct and at risk species must be studied to discover new ideas on preventing natural disasters and increasing the resilience of at risk species. Ideally we must also invest in the zoonosis of certain species and their direct impact on human life. A zoonosis (zoonotic disease or zoonoses -plural) is an infectious disease that is transmitted between species from animals to humans (or from humans to animals). Certain identified diseases include rabies, blastomycosis (blastomyces dermatitidis), psittacosis (chlamydophila psittaci, chlamydia psittaci), trichinosis (trichinella spiralis), cat scratch disease (bartonella henselae), histoplasmosis (hisoplasma capsulatum), Coccidiomycosis (valley fever), intestinal illness acquired from animals (E.coli, cryptosporidium parvum, campylobacter, and salmonella), Bioterrorism diseases (anthrax, plague, brucellosis, and Q fever). These transferable diseases are essentially a important part of biodiversity within our Florida ecosystem because we must understand the biological impacts that these disease pose as a threat to our Floridian livelihoods. 

Coast & Oceans

The peninsula of Florida is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Gulf of Mexico to the west. The Straits of Florida surround the Florida Keys in the south and separate the gulf from the ocean. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FLDEP) releases an annual science research plan on the resilience and coastal protections. Protecting Florida's ocean and coastal ecosystems are critical to maintaining the recreational and commercial economic activity they support. The coastal and ocean resources are shaped by geology, water movement, and the plants and animals that interact. The research priorities of 2014-2015 for the Coast and Oceans ecosystems were: 

  1. Mapping the sea floor and coast which includes distribution and abundance patterns of coastal marine organisms and other resources. The importance of mapping identifies Florida's data on on the coast and oceans which leads to improved decisions for marine boundaries and spatial authorities

  2. Hydrological linkages are used to study the coastal and ocean hydrology which shows the relationship between freshwater input and coastal waters. Financial budgets on water management systems that links factors of hydrologic models and controlling freshwater input to coastal and nearshore waters. 

  3. Research modeling is vital to Florida's climate change initiatives on coasts and oceans. The marine wildlife protected areas and human population must be in balance to ensure there is proper sustainability for the delicate wetland ecosystem. Fisheries and linkages to the popular fish species are important study to minimize human over-hunting and gathering techniques. 

  4. Ocean and coastal economics research help increase the value of fishery markets and brings awareness to the values of non-market resources. Some non-market resources might include visibility of coast and ocean lands or geographic sustainability of tides and currents. Ocean and coastal economics help researchers understand the socioeconomic impacts of natural and human induced events. For instance, we use ocean and coastal economic research to find our collective moral ground on how we treat our wetland environment. Florida research provides solutions to the wetland resilience and sustainability of markets based on the produces and resources of oceans and coastal lands. 

Forestry

Florida Forever is Florida's premier conservation and recreation lands acquisition program; a blueprint for conserving Florida's natural and cultural heritage. Florida Forever replaces Preservation 2000 (P2000), the largest public land acquisition program of its kind in the United States. Approximately 10 million acres managed for conservation in Florida, and more than 2.6 million acres were purchased under the Florida Forever and P2000 programs. Since the inception of the Florida Forever program in July 2001, the state has purchased more than 897,785 acres of land with approximately $3.3 billion. The Florida Forever program creates a priority list for 2022 which includes Northeast Florida Timberlands and Watershed Reserve in Clay, Duval, Nassau countries as a high priority work plan. Wolfe Creek Forest in Santa Rose county is identified as a medium priority on the list for 2022 Florida Forever with a cumulative 427,592 acres and 4,613 acres left to cover. The state must create a project like the Wolfe Creek or Northeast Florida Timberlands and Watershed Reserve to create boundaries on the protected lands. Clear guidelines are placed to help regulate the preservation of economic resources and conservation of the natural forestry

2022 Florida Forever Priority List is approved by the Board of Trustees every year and in place to determine the places that are protected against cutting down forest for profit like paper, commercial wood, and log sales. Although the priority list might be a pathway to keeping our forest conservation forever, data shows that medium priority listing areas have higher remaining acres to cover in boundary than high priority areas. This could be a direct cause of the human population masses that are in the high areas than in some of the rural areas of the Florida natural forests. For example, Forest and Lakes Ecosystem in Bay and Washington have a cumulative acres of 356,404 but there is 54,862 still remaining. Bay and Washington countries are not filled with a large amount of Floridians like some of the high priority list country including Orange, Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade in the Strategic Manage Area Lands List with only 239,069 cumulative acres and 11,518 remaining acres. This data analysis could mean that there are not enough environmental protections personnel to cover the remaining acres, resources and funding to keep these high, medium and low protected areas sustainable. 

Infrastructure

The historic Biden-Harris Administration Infrastructure Framework will provide additional funding for Florida to repair and rebuild our roads and brides with a focus on climate change mitigation, resilience, equity, and safety for all users. In Florida there are 408 bridges and over 3,564 miles of highway in poor condition. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework will devote more than $312 billion to transform our nation's transportation infrastructure. It will build $110 billion for roads, bridges and major projects to becoming more resilient and sustainable. From 2010 to 2020, Florida has experienced 22 extreme weather events, costing the state up to $100 billion in damages. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework includes $47 billion to improve the resiliency of our infrastructure and support communities’ recovery from disaster. The vital importance of this Biden-Harris Administration Infrastructure laws include the ability for all Floridians to be safe and protected against the harsh elements of natural weather. Climate change impacts the asphalt and concert buildings in the summer time as many of the infrastructure foundation is not resilient to the scorching Florida heat causing cracks in roads and critical foundations to bend. 

Infrastructure is an important asset to Florida's foundation of buildings and economic growth. The Surfside condominium collapse on June 24, 2021 at 1:25 am was a tragic incident that happened because the critical infrastructure was faulty and was not repaired. In the result of this tragic incident, a Florida judge approved an $83 million settlement for the former condo owners and heirs of those killed in the Champlain Towers South residential building in Surfside partially collapsed. Almost $50 million of the settlement comes from the payout from the condo association's insurance carrier while the remaining $33 million would come from the sale of the property where the building once stood. The 98 people killed on that night when the building collapsed sent waves of anger, fear, and confusion among many Americans. The victims of this tragic incident ranged from 1 years old to 92 years old and have since remained in the hearts and minds of Americans today. Florida remembers the sacrifices that the Surfside residents endured when they lost people they loved. It is the power of effective government action that allows for new changes and protection against the harshness of climate changes over decades. Florida government officials have an obligation to uphold new property insurance laws and regulations on apartments and condominiums

Public Health & Emergency Preparedness 

The Florida Department of Health (DOH) has provided provisions on the environmental health preparedness of the state. Public emergencies can have a direct impact on public human health risks from the environmental components. Certain health risks can be posed as accidental spills, waste disposal and water contamination, disease outbreaks and rates of transference. DOH has partnered with other state agencies to protect drinking water supplies from contamination, controlling food and waterborne illnesses, controlling biomedical waste, and preventing chemical exposure. Certain public precautions can include issuing a precautionary boil water notice to the country health department that must help notify the public of the infected water. Pursuant to section 381.006 Florida Statutes (F.S.), the Florida Department of Health (DOH) is responsible for conducting an environmental health program consistent with the state's public health mission of preventing illness within our community. A vital part of the DOH's role in the state government system ins to conduct the research analysis of food, air and water contaminants on human health. In the incident of a microbiological contamination there must be a precautionary boil water notice that is issued where the confirmed water samples show presence of fecal coliform bacteria, E. coli or other waterborne pathogens. 

The DOH has a role in controlling the food and waterborne illnesses in the state of Florida. The Bureau of Epidemiology team has eight regional food and waterborne illness epidemiologist and laboratorian. This bureau is responsible for investigating illness outbreaks, intentional or otherwise, associated with food and water consumption and recreational water use. Their job is critical to public health management systems that inform the public of the potential contamination in the Gulf Coast area. At the local Big Bend beaches there are signed at entry ways to the public beaches that are ready to give notice to the public in case there has been water contamination detected. If there noticed sign tells the public that there has been contamination in the beach area water then it is up to the DOH and partnered agencies to spread the news about the contamination to prevent illnesses among Floridians and visitors

Food product recalls are issued when conditions are discovered to make food products potentially unsafe for eating. The interagency connections that work to protect Florida's complex food industry help manage a wide variety of food sources. The food sources include meat and dairy herds, manufacturers, processing plants and food distributors, retail stores, restaurants, schools and food facilities that distribute food to the mass public. A food recall is when a food producer takes a product off the market because there is a reason to believe that it may cause consumers to become ill. Certain situations of food recalls pertain to the discovery of organisms (Samonella or Cyclospora parasites), the discovery of foreign objects (broken glass or metal) and the discovery of major allergens that are not on the product label. The food recall system is important and has an updated system that describes the types of food products affected by the recall system. For example, items such as Celery Peanut Butter Cup G&G and Apple Peanut Butter Cup, Jif Peanut Butter due to potential salmonella contamination, Fudge made with Jif Peanut Butter, Smithfield Packaged Meats Corp. Recalls a Ready-to-eat bacon topping products due to possible foreign matter contamination. Certain big brand recalls are important to public health and emergency management to ensure that the public has notice of these products and immediately return the product or dispose of the product. There have been foodborne outbreaks that occur when two or more people get the same illness from the same contaminated food or drink. When the outbreak is detected it is up to the DOH and county DOH systems to gather as much information on the illness and the probable causes of contamination. Public health management systems work closely to determine the new ways of preventing mass public outbreaks due to food and water borne illnesses. 

Agriculture Industry 

The Florida agriculture industry includes a variety of markets that are affected by climate change. The agriculture industry includes, but is not limited to, aquaculture, bees/apiary, livestock, horses/equine, plants and nurseries, fruits and vegetables. Climate change affects certain agriculture industries more than other but it is important to take action on the different factors that might disrupt the flow of agriculture as Florida takes action to prevent climate change disasters. Aquaculture includes the Apalachicola Bay Oyster Harvesting every year that results in the delicate process of farming oysters and wild caught oyster harvesting. Much of the agriculture industry relies on farmed oyster harvesting than wild caught oysters. The process of oyster farming similar to other aquaculture industries show that Florida has a vibrant market for ocean and coastal farmlands. Nurseries for small seed clams or oysters care produced in a hatchery with food and protection from predators until they are ready to be harvested. 

Honey Bee Protection in Florida is an initiative of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Cervices (FDACS). Florida has more than 300 species of bees that assist in the pollination of agricultural commodities and support from the ecosystems across the state. Pollination has been a factor that has been impacted by the rising global temperatures, as legislators and government officials create new mechanisms that reduce global temperatures under1.5 degrees Celsius. The development of Florida's ecosystem health on farms and pollinator forage, water quality, nutrient provisions, pesticides on vital plant life, and soil health protect Florida's agriculture from extreme climate change. The Florida Apiary Rules and Regulations are highlighted in the Florida Statute 586: Honey Certification and Honey Bees, which require bee keepers to follow guidelines to protect these small but powerful species. Florida's beekeeping industry continues its growth spurt with a total of 833 new beekeeper registrations processed in the 2019-2020 season. The Florida beekeeping industry has 4,902 registered beekeepers that are subject to inspections to uphold their proper regulations. 635,964 colonies of bees are accounted for since the 2019-2020 beekeeping season which is promising news to the threat of climate change on our world's top pollinators. In the summertime Floridians can expect high pollen alerts that bring awareness to individuals that are pollen-sensitive and the types of agriculture plant life that will cause symptoms like weed, tree, and grass. Individuals that are affected and considered pollen-sensitive must take precautions that help alleviate their impact to strong pollinators like weed, tree, and grass. Individuals must wear high-performance masks, anti-pollen sunglasses, do not wear woolen clothes outdoors, take a shower after going out, close windows and doors and turn on air purifier, and avoid outdoor activities entirely. 

Clean Energy

Clean energy is a critical component of our everyday livelihood. Floridians have transformed into clean energy producers through solar energy and water powered energy generators. Green energy is a modern application to the climate crisis that affects our communities at the fundamental levels. Clean energy economic growth is the future of Floridian households that hold a mass amount of public approval on new legislative and agency partnerships. Currently, Florida's utilities estimate electricity generation will need to increase 7.6 percent by 2027 according to the Florida Public Service Commission (FPSC) Ten-Year Site Plan. The increasing annual energy consumption (ACE) 5-year comparison shows that in FY 2017-18 the State of Florida consumed 3.85 billions of kBTU (one thousand British Thermal Units). 

Legislative Tax incentives for clean renewable energy 

  • Sales Tax exemption for solar systems and related items

  • Property tax exemption of 100 percent of the increased value for residential renewable energy installations and 80 percent of the increased value for commercial renewable energy installments

  • Prohibits homeowners' associations and other entities from installing solar energy systems

  • Net metering requirement for Investor Owned Utilities up to 2 megawatts capacity

Climate change impacts on clean energy substations exposes Florida to flooding from a Category 3 storm that can more than double by 2050 and triple by 2070. These substations across the state of Florida are vitally important for the fundamental infrastructure of Florida's renewable energy and extension to the energy grid that spans the state connectivity structures. Storms and Hurricanes can wipe out entire energy grids for miles from the direct impact of the storm system hits a substation energy system. It is important to the Climate Change initiatives of Florida to expand the protection against major storms and make our clean energy systems more resilient to natural disasters. 

Florida's energy is the lifeblood of our cities, transportation systems, industries, homes and workplaces. Energy is the source of power that we need everyday. The process of creating energy through sustainable development, operations production, transmission, and the distribution of both renewable and traditional sources can be risky to the health of humans and wildlife. Clean energy sources can help preserve our natural and cultural resources and help Floridians identify new inventions for clean energy in the future. Deliberations of clean energy groups, companies, Native nations, Local, State and Federal agencies can increase the innovation programs that deliver clean energy. The quickest way forward is for Floridians to participate in clean energy decisions that affect their customers like landowners, apartment buildings, manufacturing companies, infrastructure raw material creators, utilities, gas and oil companies, and technology companies. 

Conflict resolution services can provide value in the following areas of clean energy production:

  • National Environmental Policy Act processes.

  • Energy facilities and infrastructure.

  • Transmission infrastructure and pipelines.

  • Re-licensing and decommissioning of energy facilities.

  • Site cleanup and remediation.

  • Energy and climate policy development.

  • Energy distribution systems.

  • Community planning for energy needs and/or development.

  • Climate resilience planning.

  • Energy efficiency programs.

  • Tribal energy sovereignty and energy resilience planning.

  • Training in stakeholder engagement, Tribal engagement, Government-to-Government Consultation, and collaboration and conflict resolution.

Although this list of clean energy conflict resolution services can be offered, they are stepping stones to the real global challenge to climate change initiatives. 

biodiversity