New report documents rising temperatures
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07/24/07 Seán Kinane
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

The environmental advocacy organization, Environment Florida, has published an analysis of climate data called “Feeling the Heat: Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the U.S.” This morning in Ballast Point Park in South Tampa, the group announced the findings of that report along the shores of Tampa Bay. Adam Rivera, the Citizen Outreach Director of Environment Florida, spoke about how global warming is affecting temperatures in Tampa.

“The message of the report is clear: throw out the record books, because global warming is raising temperatures here in Tampa, and around the state and around the country. The long-term forecast is for more of the same unless we quickly and significantly reduce global warming pollution from passenger vehicles and from power plants. According to the National Climatic Data Center, the 2006 summer and 2006 overall were the second warmest years on record for the lower 48 states. 2007 is on track to be the second warmest year on record globally.”

Across the bay from where Rivera spoke is the Apollo Beach power plant that burns coal and releases tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Under dark storm clouds -- gulls, crows and a solitary osprey flew, while Rivera described the effects of global warming on Florida.

“Scientists are sounding alarm bells about the impacts of continued global warming. This warmer than normal weather is indicative of what Florida can expect if global warming continues, including increased droughts and wildfires, stress on already scarce water resources, and more frequent and intense tropical storms.”

The Environment Florida report was based on government data comparing recent to historic temperatures, as Rivera explained.

“We looked at temperature data for 255 weather stations in all fifty states and in Washington, D.C. We focused on temperature data for the years 2000 to 2006 and compared these temperatures with the historical average from 1971 to 2000. This is what meteorologists refer to as the ‘normal’ temperature.”

Lily Weinberg is a director of the Tampa office of Environment Florida and is concerned about how climate change is affecting the state.

“All over the nation, all over the world, especially in Florida, we have seen the temperatures are rising; the effects that are occurring; people have higher levels of skin cancer; the CO2 in the air. It is a reality and we need to start doing more about it.”

Julie Peterson is a Field Manager with Environment Florida and spoke with WMNF about sea level rise.

“You know, with the melting of the icebergs, that is definitely going to effect the rising sea levels, even all the way down here in the warmer temperatures. And that’s definitely been a factor over the past couple of years.”

But Adam Rivera also spoke about legislation pending in Washington that his group hopes will pass.

“The good news is that scientists say we can avoid the worst effects of global warming by taking bold action now to reduce global warming pollution. And the even better news is that just past week, Governor Charlie Crist took bold action by signing an executive order to put cleaner cars on the road and get more of our energy from clean renewable sources. And also to reduce pollution to levels that science says is safe. Congress is now poised to consider global warming legislation this fall. The Safe Climate Act in the US House and the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act in the US Senate are the only bills that would reduce pollution to levels that scientists say we need to reduce them to in order to prevent the worst impacts of global warming.”

Representative Kathy Castor is a Co-sponsor of the Safe Climate Act, which mandates an 80-percent reduction in global warming pollution by 2050. But neither of Florida’s US Senators have taken a position on the Senate version of the bill. Rivera said that Florida’s senators should follow Governor Crist’s lead and support the Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act.

“He set the standard really high and we really can’t accept any less from our senators.”

You can read the new report about Global Warming and Rising Temperatures in the US and get tips on how you can help control climate change on the Environment Florida website, environmentflorida dot org .

Learn more:

Environment Florida

Feeling the Heat report (.pdf)

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