Climate change affects Floridians more than people acknowledge

About 90% of Floridians believe in climate change and, as Florida is coastal, can expect more flooding and stronger hurricanes.


Nicholas Windfelder

Fallen debris on campus after hurricane Ian.

Jessica Abramsky, News Editor

Climate change has a major impact on South Florida, including the weather and politics. A report published by Florida Atlantic University details the climate change in the state, and specifies that over 90% of adults in Florida believe in climate change. Scientists believe human activity has exacerbated climate change in recent years, with the burning of fossil fuels, and other activities, such as driving cars. 

The National Centers for Environmental Information presents evidence of a worsening climate. The report specifies temperature differences on land and in the ocean, as well as in different hemispheres. It also outlines the 10 warmest years in history, nine of which occurred between 2005-2019. 

Colin Polsky, FAU Professor and Director of the Center of Environmental Studies

In 1988, climate change came to the forefront. At the time, Republicans and Democrats were very much in disagreement about the issue. Polsky says that Republicans denied any real scientific validity to the belief that humans caused climate change. Polsky believes that Republicans started to pay attention to climate change for one of two reasons: profit or trying to help the environment, which is a social problem. Either way, he thinks Floridians will benefit from increased environmental protections. 

He explains how Republicans are, historically, obstructionist on the issue of climate change, so he is happy that things are changing, as Florida’s republican government has passed some environmental action recently. He also believes that republican attitudes toward the issue have completely changed. Polsky believes that over 50% of Republicans are aware of climate change and worried about it.

“To the point now where even our U.S. Congress, which is legendary for not being able to do much because they’re so partisan and split on all sorts of topics, including over the years climate change has actually gotten some stuff done lately,” Polsky said.

Polsky believes that Floridians can do so many things to protect the environment, including not polluting or putting up condos in the Everglades. He describes two categories of things people can do. 

“We can mitigate or adapt, which means either reduce the greenhouse gases that we’re putting into the atmosphere in the first place, or do things to respond to the changes that are coming,” Polsky said. “And most people say we have to do both.”

Fallen debris on campus after hurricane Ian. (Nicholas Windfelder)

Rachel Lapensee, Founder and President of FAU’s Environmental Club

Lapensee founded the club because she saw little involvement on campus and to educate people about environmental issues. The club engages in environmental activities and community service work, such as beach cleanups and a plant garden on campus.

Lapensee points out that a big problem of climate change and advocating for the environment is politics. The topic is polarized heavily, often by a Democrat Vs. Republican mentality. 

She states that people believe in climate change, but don’t think of it as a priority. 

“Some of the ways that we see already, the effects of climate change, are in stronger hurricanes and hurricane season, oftentimes lasting longer and starting sooner than it used to,” said Lapensee. “The people who are running your community, they’re the ones where you’re going to see the most change more fast and how you want things done than compared to state and federal levels.”

Editor’s note: This story is in the UP’s latest issue that can be found physically on the  distribution boxes around campus or digitally through our Issuu page.

Jessica Abramsky is a contributing writer for the University Press. For more information on this article or others, you can reach Jessica at [email protected].