So, it’s HOT! In fact, it’s extremely hot. Have you felt it? I know I have. That feeling like you will never be able to cool off again, the air seems heavy, its humid out, it is hard to breathe. As a Florida native, I have picked watermelons, worked outside often, and played sports in August. I thought I knew about heat but this year things seem different. Hotter. And the news reports say so, too.
Last week was the hottest on record in numerous places across the globe and in the United States. This makes me wonder, are we doing enough about climate change and managing exposure to extreme heat? Hurricanes kill, but so does heat. Florida’s economy is based on water, many outdoor tourism activities, beaches, and agriculture. While I believe tourists will still come for some time into the future, will they eventually stop due to sweltering temperatures? What about crops? Will we be able to grow the same things in the future, at the same time of year? Will the human beings that work in the fields still be able to do so safely? Will we be able to meet the increased demand for energy to cool our homes? All interesting and important questions.
Some areas, like Phoenix Arizona, are providing heat relief stations. In Florida, Miami-Dade County hired the world’s first Chief Heat Officer, they are planting more trees to provide shade, and working across departments to provide an integrated approach to resilience. Private sector energy companies are doing a great deal to plan for increased storm activity and energy demands. They are working toward reducing carbon emissions and alternative energy production technologies. These efforts are successful in many ways and are examples we can all learn from.
So what’s next? How do we continue to make progress? Various areas of the state are moving in the right direction. Examples include the Southeast Florida Climate Compact, the Tampa Bay Regional Resilience Coalition, the Emerald Coast Area Resilience Alliance, and the East Central Florida Regional Resilience Collaborative. It will take regional cooperation through groups like these, and a statewide approach through organizations like Resiliency Florida and others to continue to ensure that needed investments are made in planning, infrastructure, and innovation to meet the needs of the future.
We all must continue to work together.
If you are interested in learning more about Resiliency Florida, discussing these topics, or would like to join us, please email me at ExecDir@resiliencyflorida.org