Protecting species often seems to come with what some people view as a downside. To protect recently-deemed-threatened staghorn and elkhorn corals, that could mean tougher looks at beach widening, sewage discharge, ship anchoring and other coastal activities if the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service goes through with a designating parts of southern Florida as critical habitat for these corals, according to the Sun-Sentinel.
Florida reportedly has the third-largest coral reef system in the world (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia and the barrier reef in Central America near Belize. Many of Florida’s reefs have died off or suffered from bleaching. The staghorn and elkhorn corals in question have seen a 90% decline, according to the article. There is an economic importance in saving the corals, as well: NOAA has estimated the reef is worth $7.6 billion to the economy.
Read more at the article linked above….
I just found out about the Drought Diary blog by Palm Beach Post reporter Bob King. Interesting stuff — especially the post Are we all in a drought? Really?
I have always preached the necessity of having a campground reservation. Sun-Sentinel columnist Ralph de la Cruz is now lamenting the fact many campsites are booked 11 months in advance after he couldn’t get a campsite for a father/daughter camping outing because everything was already booked. It’s a combination of not having enough public campgrounds, he says, and the fact many people practically live at Florida campgrounds during the winter….
Should conservation land be used to support alternative energy? Many people in St. Lucie are saying no, according to Craig Pittman at the St. Petersburg Times.
And Real Simple magazine has a feature on its Web site about compensating for your carbon footprint. Other links on the page take you to information about cutting energy costs and ways to reuse items in your home.
Finally, there’s an interesting Q&A about the environmental impact of drinking orange juice from concentrate vs. fresh at Slate. Because Florida is the orange juice king, I thought this was interesting on a local angle.
Today, a state senate environmental committee is set to look at legislation that would phase out pumping sewage into the Atlantic Ocean.
Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are the only three counties that pump treated waste into the ocean, according to news from the Miami Herald, to the tune of 300 million gallons a day. The counties are supposedly balking at the idea of it, saying it will be costly and that there’s no proof the treated waste is harming coral reefs (although scientists have been studying that).
I don’t claim to know the answers about where the sewage should go, but there has to be a better place for it than the ocean. Even if you don’t do it for the coral reefs, or for the sea life, consider the economic impact. Florida’s main industry is tourism, no small part of that thanks to the beaches. If beaches have to turn people away because the bacteria levels are too high, that sends a bad message to tourists. It also tells residents we don’t care about cleaning up our own messes.
I, for one, don’t care to swim in a cesspool.
Is it just me, or does red tide seem to plague Florida’s southwestern coast every summer? Red tide — the result of naturally occurring algae that increase in number during warm months — kills fish and other sea life, creates breathing problems for some people and drives beachgoers away from the shore.
A new report on red tide by a division of Mote Marine Laboratory takes a detailed look at red tide and what we can do to ease it, according to a Charlotte Sun-Herald article. The article says the report recommends reducing pollution, studying ways to control red tide, looking at ways technology might help red tide, improving how we monitor red tide blooms and improving how we oversee red tide research and management.
Many environmentalists have speculated that red tides have been increasing due to polluted runoff, and while the report apparently maintains that can’t be proven, it says pollution could be a factor — and pollution needs to be addressed anyway, so that’s why reducing pollution is one of the recommendations.
Floridians and tourists both love the beach — but not when it’s too polluted to be safe. A new report says in 2006, fewer Florida beaches were closed because of pollution, according to this article. The National Resources Defense Council, which developed the report, says there were fewer beach closings because it rained less, meaning less runoff of polluted water. Even so, there were 285 beach advisories in 2006, the report says.
The thought of your favorite beach being closed because it’s too polluted — apparently from runoff, the NRDC says — should get us all to think about the water quality everywhere in the state, as that water eventually ends up in the ocean, right?
So that especially makes filling Lake Okeechobee with polluted water look like a bad idea.
U.S. Geological Survey photo
I love it when newspapers offer images like maps and pie charts to show you what’s happening with the “big picture.” The St. Petersburg Times’ environment writer Craig Pittman does good work, and here he lays out how Florida’s coastline suffers from warming, where greenhouse gases come from and what Gov. Charlie Crist’s new rules on warming would do.