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LWV speaker discusses greenhouse gases, rising sea levels and more

By Staff | Mar 22, 2018

PHOTO PROVIDED Dr. Rick Bartleson, research scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, spoke on March 15 at a luncheon held by the League of Women Voters of Sanibel.

The League of Women Voters of Sanibel hosted a luncheon on March 15 at the Sundial Beach Resort featuring Dr. Rick Bartleson, research scientist with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

He spoke about greenhouse gases, rising sea levels and the South Florida ecosystem.

Scientists predict that at the current rate of global warming, even assuming some mitigation efforts, much of Florida – including Sanibel and Fort Myers – is expected to be under water by 2100. Sea level rise in Fort Myers and Miami is expected to be even more severe than in other parts of Florida because of wind, sea currents and other factors, according to Bartleson.

By 2100, about $1 trillion in U.S. gross domestic product will be lost per increased degree Fahrenheit. He reported that Florida will experience one of the highest levels of economic damage in the country. Florida’s state government holds a below-average grade in steps taken to mitigate the expected damage. The National Resource Defense Council awarded Florida a grade of C minus in climate preparedness.

The current administration has rolled back a number of steps to limit climate change. In 2017, the League of Conservation Voters gave some of Florida’s politicians scores of 0 percent in protecting the environment, with a number of elected officials in the state receiving scores of 8 percent or less.

Bartleson reported that a perfect storm of conditions is leading to increased atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane, which cause global warming, rising sea levels and other serious impacts, resulting in:

– Warming ocean temperatures killing coral reefs

– Stronger and more frequent storms

– More red tides

– More flooding

– More extended and serious droughts

– More wildfires

In addition, oceanic acidity is expected to continue to increase rapidly as atmospheric carbon dioxide increases. Many shellfish will be unable to produce shells and will become extinct, he reported. Other sea animals, ranging from Atlantic flounder to blue crab to striped bass, are also at risk. In 2014, acidic waters killed 10 million scallops off Vancouver, Washington.

Population growth is a key contributor, as carbon dioxide production correlates closely to population growth. By 2025, the world’s population will rise to more than 8 billion – a dramatic increase from 3 billion in 1960. However, the growth rate has slowed from 2.1 percent in 1960 to 1.2 percent in 2015.

Individuals can take steps to slow climate change and help mitigate the worst effects by:

– Reducing individual carbon footprints

– Eating less meat

– Attending future sea level rise related meetings

– Minimizing fertilizer use

The League of Women Voters of Sanibel is a non-partisan organization, which offers educational activities throughout the year that are open to members and the public. The goal is to encourage citizen education and participation around important issues in every sector of American life. The LWV also offers voter services in the form of voter information and registration.

For more information, visit www.lwvsanibel.org.