Environment

In South Florida, where the Everglades meet the bays, environmental challenges abound. Sea level rise threatens homes and real estate. Invasive species imperil native plants and animals. Pesticides reduce the risk of mosquito-borne diseases, but at what cost? 

WLRN's award-winning environment reporting strives to capture the color and complexity of human interaction with one of the most biodiverse areas of the planet.

Lauren Woeher wonders if her 16-month-old daughter has been harmed by tap water contaminated with toxic industrial compounds used in products like nonstick cookware, carpets, firefighting foam and fast-food wrappers. Henry Betz, at 76, rattles around his house alone at night, thinking about the water his family unknowingly drank for years that was tainted by the same contaminants, and the pancreatic cancers that killed wife Betty Jean and two others in his household.

There’s a new study into the resilience of Lake Okeechobee’s toxic algae as it flows from the fresh water lake into the brackish estuaries.

Islamorada Backs Off From Ban On Plastic Straws

Aug 10, 2018
plastic straws
Fairywren/Flickr Creative Commons

The Village of Islamorada for now will not join a growing list of municipalities, including Miami Beach, that have limited the use and sale of plastic straws.

Jessica Meszaros / WUSF Public Media

A toxic red tide algae bloom that’s been persisting in Southwest Florida for nearly a year is now making its way to the Tampa Bay area. It’s been most recently reported as far north as Pinellas County.

The Seminole Tribe of Florida plans to eliminate plastic straws at its six casinos in the state.

Pedro Portal, Miami Herald

Toxic algae is an increasing problem in Florida, whether it’s red tide on the state’s west coast, or from releases from Lake Okeechobee. Jill Roberts, from sister station WQCS in Fort Pierce, tells us about a statewide event to focus attention on the toxic water. Hands Along the Water will remind politicians that toxic algae is an important issue to the state's voters. 

John O'Connor / StateImpact Florida

The group Code for Miami aims to develop data- and technology-based solutions to local quality-of-life challenges. On Saturday, as part of a "National Day of Civic Hacking," they're inviting other local programmers and civic-minded volunteers to help them tackle some of South Florida's pressing issues.

Susan Jacobson, a journalism professor at Florida International University and a longtime Code for Miami participant, says this weekend’s event will include coding projects on transit and ocean pollution as well as sea-level rise.

Andrew West / The News Press via the Miami Herald

Everglades advocates are telling Congress to get moving on a major restoration project needed to help prevent future algae blooms like the ones currently choking inland and coastal waterways in Florida. 

Pedro Portal / Miami Herald

Marco Rubio announced Tuesday that he will ask federal agencies to oppose the 836 expressway expansion into West Kendall, a major roadblock for Mayor Carlos Gimenez and the Miami-Dade County Commission after they gave preliminary approval for the 14-mile highway in June.

The Republican senator’s alignment with environmentalists, who say the highway would damage the Everglades and cause urban sprawl, could affect the project’s progress due to federal land swaps from the Department of Interior that are needed before construction can begin.

State Waives Rules To Help Red Tide Cleanup

Aug 8, 2018

Cleanup rules are being waived for the removal of dead fish from areas of red tide in Collier, Lee, Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. 

Tesla Motors started selling its stock to the public in 2010 — the first initial public offering of a U.S. automaker in more than a half-century. On Tuesday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said he's considering a reversal — taking the electric car company private.

As he often does, the outspoken entrepreneur took to Twitter to deliver the news. "Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured," Musk tweeted in early afternoon.

Andrew West / News-Press

When Florida Sea Grant director Karl Havens, who is a well-regarded expert on water and has studied pollution all over the world, began hearing about a deepening algae bloom in his own backyard in Lake Okeechobee this summer, he struggled to find information that could tell him what was going on.

State scientists sample water in the lake, but too infrequently to track rapidly evolving algae blooms. Instead, Havens had to rely on satellite images that were taken on sunny days when clouds don’t get in the way.

Scott Calls For Action On Red Tide Amid Political Clamor

Aug 6, 2018

Political broadsides continue over who is to blame for ongoing water-quality problems across South Florida, as Gov. Rick Scott on Friday ordered more action to address red tide in coastal communities. 

Riane Roldan / WLRN

There's a buzzword among people who work on quality-of-life issues in South Florida: "Resilience."

It’s a concept we often apply to a person, someone who's able to cope with difficult circumstances. But more and more, the word is being used in the context of how communities respond to issues like traffic, hurricanes, affordable housing and rising seas.

Tourists weren't scattered on beaches in southwest Florida on Thursday, but hundreds of dead fish were.

The Herald-Tribune reports that visitors piled into the parking lot of Venice Beach, got out of their cars, started hacking, coughing and sneezing and then quickly left.

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