Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director Frank Jackalone warned Friday that time is running short as the state faces the consequences of climate change.
“It’s just one minute to midnight in Florida, because the state is at ground zero for sea-level rise,” Jackalone told reporters in Tallahassee as he discussed environmental issues for the upcoming 2020 legislative session and other topics.
Jackalone also accused lawmakers and developers of conspiring to create “a new wave of population growth and urban sprawl that will destroy wildlife and make it impossible to control our pollution crisis,” pointing in part to plans that are expected to lead to three new or extended toll roads.
The Sierra Club has been a fierce critic of the toll-road projects, which were a priority of Senate President Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton, during the 2019 session. The group contends that the projects, which would stretch from Collier County to Jefferson County, would lead to urban sprawl in now-rural communities and further threaten water resources and wildlife.
Among other issues, the group would like the state and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to halt plans for a 6,000-acre reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area and redraw a vastly broader and shallower reservoir it believes would be more effective in cleaning and sending water south and cost less.
Jackalone praised lawmakers for being more open to talk about climate change than in the past. But he expressed concern that may not translate into needed actions.
Jackalone warned that by failing to adequately address climate change, money going into Everglades restoration will be wasted.
“We’re seeing waters rising to the point where the southern tip of the Everglades (is already) being threatened sea level rise,” Jackalone said. “If that rise increases exponentially as scientists are forecasting, in 50 years, we’re going to start losing the Everglades for real and does it matter that we have spent $20 (billion), $30 (billion), $40-billion to restore the plumbing system of the Everglades if the sea is just going to wash it all away?”