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.

Claire Thornton

Just two days before the official start of hurricane season, Florida International University hosted the world premiere Wednesday of “BUILT TO LAST?,” a documentary that warns of risks to homes and other buildings in “the age of disaster.”

“When someone loses their home, it’s like they’ve lost everything,” said Aris Papadopoulos, of FIU’s Extreme Events Institute, whose book, “Resilience – The Ultimate Sustainability,” inspired the film.

Kate Stein / WLRN

Solar panels are not going to fix sea-level rise.

They're an energy source that does not release carbon into the atmosphere. So, switching to solar panels will limit the carbon in the Earth's atmosphere in the future. That could help prevent sea-level rise from getting worse.

But solar panels do not take out the carbon that’s already there — the carbon that's already begun to cause global warming and rising seas.

At a roundtable in Miami’s Little Haiti neighborhood on Wednesday, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson got that fact wrong.

Kate Stein / WLRN

"Seventy-two hours. Three days."

That's how long officials expect residents to be able to survive on their own after a hurricane strikes, which includes having on hand three days' worth of food, medicines and other necessities, according to Mark Moore, deputy emergency manager for the City of Miami.

Michael Seeley / Courtesy

Flanked by sea turtle nests, the vandalized Key West "ghost ship" that mysteriously washed ashore in Melbourne after Hurricane Irma will likely remain beached until at least November.

Because endangered turtles recently laid eggs there, officials in Brevard, on Florida's Atlantic coast, say they'll leave the boat alone for now.

Cuki, the beached 45-foot sailboat won't be removed until nesting season ends on Oct. 31 — at the earliest.

Rosamaria Gonzalez / USDA

A low-tech method is saving a threatened species of bird from getting sucked into jet engines at the Naval Air Station Key West airfield on Boca Chica Key.

USGS via Wikimedia Commons

A reservoir project that could help address water challenges in the Everglades is one step closer to being built.

Congressional committees on Thursday approved a bill that, if passed, would authorize construction of a $1.4 billion water storage reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee. The reservoir would help reduce water discharges from Lake Okeechobee that contribute to algae blooms on Florida’s coasts; it would also increase water flow south to Florida Bay.

Adrianne Gonzalez / WLRN News

In a Miami-Dade courtroom, Judge Spencer Eig heard arguments Thursday both for and against a controversial development planned on an environmentally rare Pine Rocklands habitat in South Miami-Dade, near Zoo Miami.

Floydphoto / Wikimedia Commons

Sea-level rise is going to cost Broward County -- and leaders don't know yet how they're going to pay.

A roundtable meeting in Davie on Thursday brought together more than 40 elected officials, city staff and business leaders from across Broward. Many expressed concern over a lack of funding for sea-level rise adaptation projects.

Ron Wallace, the city engineer for Parkland, said he's concerned about drainage in South Florida's current system, which moves water from west to east.

Grains are the bedrock of civilization. They led humans from hunting and gathering to city-building. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization, the fruits of three grasses provide the world with 60 percent of its total food: corn, wheat and rice. Aside from energy-rich carbohydrates, grains feed us protein, zinc, iron and essential B vitamins.

But rice as we know it is at risk.

Advocacy Groups Say Florida Parks At Risk By Offshore Drilling

May 24, 2018

Eleven national parks in Florida are threatened by White House proposals to open to oil drilling currently protected parts of the nation’s outer continental shelf and to revise the 2016 Well Control Rule, according to a report released Wednesday by environmental conservation groups. 

Danny Hwang

Peak mosquito season is coming and Miami-Dade County officials say they are ready to fight it with a new weapon: a bacteria that makes mosquitos sterile. 

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Giménez said in a press conference Wednesday that the county will be using the Wolbachia bacteria to handle the Aedes Aegypti mosquito, which is seen as being primarily responsible for transmitting diseases like Dengue and Zika.

South Florida Water Management District

Florida is marking a milestone in its attempt to control an infestation of Burmese pythons in the Everglades.

 

The state has been paying a select group of hunters to kill the invasive snakes on state lands in South Florida since March 2017. On Tuesday, the 1,000th Burmese python collected in that program will be weighed in at the South Florida Water Management District's field office in Homestead.

The seas are rising, frequently flooding the streets even when no storms are on the horizon. But that hasn't stopped foreign investors from shelling out big dollars for Miami real estate. Many are in it for the relatively short-term investment, then they'll try to sell before climate change takes its toll, observers of the local market say.

Hundreds of opponents of offshore oil drilling gathered at Florida beaches and held hands.

Kate Stein / WLRN

In one of Miami-Dade’s most flood-prone areas, county officials on Thursday night collected public input on what to do about water from storms and and rising seas.

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