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Think globally, adapt locally with CIC!
Beaches are part of the lifeblood of the state of Florida – and right now they are under threat. This opening chapter of Ahead of the Tide introduces us to the various factors affecting one of the most important aspects of the sunshine state: our natural sandy beaches.
Florida is ground zero for sea level rise. Chapter 2 of “Ahead of the Tide” explains why seas are rising and why Florida is especially at risk. We explore from the geography to the geology why Floridians are already being affected by rising seas and “sunny day flooding” in their everyday lives.
Florida is one of the most exposed areas in the United States in terms of the economic consequences of sea level rise. In Chapter 3 of Ahead of the Tide, concerned local residents speak to the economic sustainability of continued coastal development and the impact on the quality of life for all Floridians. They are urging state government to engage on sound coastal and climate policy.
The intense development along Florida’s coast has drawn an untenable line in the sand. Chapter 4 of Ahead of the Tide explores the incentives, policies, and subsidies shaping the shoreline. The continuing overdevelopment and unchecked expansion is leading to an economically unsustainable situation effecting all Floridians statewide.
As the sea level continues to rise, we face unique challenges in managing our beaches. Chapter 5 of Ahead of the Tide highlights various ways coastal towns and cities have begun to address eroding beaches. From the consequences of armoring the shore with more and more sea walls to the rising cost of continually renourishing our beaches, Floridians are speaking out about the need for new and enlightened policies to manage our coastal communities and beaches.
Florida’s beaches are not only important economic drivers and assets for its citizens, they are also part of their culture, health and welfare. In Chapter 6 of Ahead of the Tide we examine the latest struggle for fair and sustainable beach access. From areas of recreation for Floridians and tourist alike to vital habitat areas for the unique and precious wildlife such as sea turtles, continued beach access is crucial for Florida and its brand to succeed.
Sea turtles are an indicator species; they tell us how the beaches and marine environment are doing. Explored in Ahead of the Tide’s Chapter 7 is the symbiotic relationship between sea turtles and humans. Where turtles are successfully nesting, coastal environments are doing well. But where turtles are unable to nest, we see residents along those same beaches also at risk. It is crucial we understand how coastal development and sea level rise affects these majestic creatures and the habitats we share.
We can no longer ignore what is happening in Florida’s coastal communities: the time has come for Florida to become a leader in how to adapt and address flooding, loss of water supplies, beach erosion, failing infrastructure and wildfires. As the state’s government continues to refuse to acknowledge the realities of sea level rise and climate change, Ahead of the Tide’s chapter 8 focuses on Floridians turning to local and regional government for solutions.
Chapter Nine of Ahead of the Tide focuses on the various ways people have been engaging in the conversation to address the ongoing challenges of sea level rise. From joining marches in the streets to participating in public meetings to voting in leaders who are willing to work towards viable solutions, the public voice can bring about the necessary changes. Through these and other actions we must demand that we stay ahead of the tide.
Something must be done about rising seas in Florida. Chapter 10 of Ahead of the Tide is a call to action for anyone and everyone who wants to see a healthy and vibrant future for Florida’s coastal communities. Whether considering the devastating economic consequences of eroding beaches, impacts of sunny day flooding, losing the Florida Beach brand, or disappearing coastal habitat for wildlife, the Ahead of the Tide Series has been focused on bringing attention to the need for Floridians and Americans to take an active role in the future of resilient, beautiful beaches for generations to come. It is time for all of us to step up and be the change we want to see.