Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A healthy South Florida for a healthy planet

Did you know that a healthy Biscayne Bay can actually help us fight climate change?

When healthy, coastal and marine ecosystems such as seagrass meadows, mangrove forests, and saltwater marshlands absorb carbon dioxide, the leading cause of climate change, and help mitigate this global threat.

Recent reports find that these ecosystems, all found in and around Biscayne Bay and throughout South Florida, are more effective at storing carbon than terrestrial solutions, such as restoring forests.

Conserving our coastal marine ecosystems may also be worth money. Congress is currently considering legislation that could direct billions of dollars towards carbon mitigation activities.

If we can advance policies that appreciate the natural carbon roles our coastal and marine ecosystems play, then their restoration and conservation could potentially create economic stimulus and become a source of increasing revenue for our coastal cities and our state.

In fact, many current South Florida coastal restoration activities may actually already be helping us fight climate change. Potential local projects that come to mind include the restoration of the Everglades and Virginia Key, the Miami Science Museum’s Reclamation Project, and efforts to clean up southeast Florida sewer outfall pipes.

Projects like these should be supported and expanded because they create jobs, restore the environment, and counter climate change. A healthy Biscayne Bay is also vitally important to local tourism and fisheries, including lobster and stone crab fishing.

The call for marine conservation solutions is part of a new and increasing movement. In November of last year, the Blue Climate Coalition, a large alliance of environmental groups, scientists, and other interests, issued letters to President Obama and the U.S. Senate asking for marine conservation options to be included in climate change legislation and international treaties. Many South Florida groups signed the coalition letters, including
Blue Climate Solutions, Friends of the Everglades, Save the Manatee Club, Urban Environment League, Urban Paradise Guild, Reef Rescue, and Cry of the Water.

After the recent Copenhagen climate talks, the eyes of the world will turn to the United States for direction on climate change. Marine conservation options represent an opportunity for our nation to play a leading role in countering this global threat.

Those interested in joining the call for marine conservation solutions to climate change should contact their congressional representatives and let their voice be heard.

For more information and how to join the call for ‘blueclimate solutions:
(Click-on ‘Citizen Action Alert’)

Image: Nurse shark searching for lunch off Key Biscayne, FL
(credit: Steven Lutz)

-Steven (Blue Climate Solutions)