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.

PEDRO PORTAL / MIAMI HERALD

Climate change is making the planet warmer, but a new report says there's something worse on the horizon: extreme heat.

By The Associated Press

The number of manatee deaths caused by watercraft could hit an all-time high in Florida this year.

From the beginning of this year through June 21, 81 manatees have been killed by watercraft in Florida's waters. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials say 59 manatees died during the same period in 2018.

Sam Turken / WLRN

Volunteers planted more than 200 trees at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park  in hopes of creating more habitat for migratory birds and native animals.

The plantings at the beach have been a ritual for environmental activists and volunteers for the past decade. They have been gradually converting an area that was once cleared for development into natural forests with strangler figs, lantana and other native trees and shrubs.

People across southern Louisiana are spending the weekend worried about flooding. The water is coming from every direction: the Mississippi River is swollen with rain that fell weeks ago farther north, and a storm called Barry is pushing ocean water onshore while it drops more rain from above.

It's a situation driven by climate change, and one that Louisiana has never dealt with, at least in recorded history. And it's raising questions about whether New Orleans and other communities are prepared for such an onslaught.

Nancy Klingener / WLRN

Key West is taking on the island's abundant wild iguana population. They're everywhere, including city-owned property, from the old landfill known as Mount Trashmore to the historic cemetery in the center of the island. 

Miami Herald archives

Extending the 836/Dolphin Expressway over protected wetlands in Miami-Dade County is drawing new scrutiny from South Florida water managers.

Sea levels are rising, and that is sending more ocean water into streets, sewers and homes. For people who live and work in coastal communities, that means more otherwise-sunny days disrupted by flooding.

France plans to put an "ecotax" on nearly all airline flights starting in 2020, French Transport Minister Elisabeth Borne said Tuesday. The new tax could bring in some $200 million annually that would support modes of travel that pollute less — such as trains.

"With the eco-contribution, air transport will play its part in financing the daily transport of all our citizens," Borne said via Twitter. She added, "It is a response to the ecological urgency and sense of injustice expressed by the French."

Plastic waste gets a lot of attention when photos of dead whales with stomachs full of plastic bags hit the news. Pieces of plastic also litter cities, and tiny plastic particles are even floating in the air.

Largely overlooked is how making plastic in the first place affects the environment, especially global warming. Plastic actually has a big carbon footprint, but so do many of the alternatives to plastic. And that's what makes replacing plastic a problem without a clear solution.

A bloom of toxic algae has forced Mississippi to close 25 beaches along its Gulf Coast. State environmental officials say people can still visit the sandy beaches — but they should avoid any contact with the water.

The blue-green algae "can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting," the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says. And it warns that exposure can affect pets.

Jamie Margolin / Courtesy

Students from across the country are in Miami this week for a three-day event, called "This Is Zero Hour: The Youth Climate Summit." It's being hosted by the international youth climate advocacy organization Zero Hour, a group of 25 students who are striving to protect the environment. 

New research just getting underway at Florida Gulf Coast University is exploring a novel approach to possibly someday controlling blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria.

CLAY DEGAYNER

When the Key Largo cotton mouse and woodrat were placed on the Endangered Species List in 1984, federal scientists named several factors that were imperiling the rodents’ existence. Most serious was the loss of habitat due to development.

Task Force Seeks Solutions To Fight Algae Blooms

Jul 2, 2019

Jim Turner / News Service of Florida

Experts looking into toxic algae outbreaks that have exploded in state waterways want to know if anyone has a proven, innovative cleanup strategy that can be used.

And they want to know quickly. 

Florida’s record $90.98 billion spending plan for next fiscal year and more than 100 new laws will hit the books Monday.

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