ADAPT

Federal scientists are predicting that this summer’s “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico will be larger than average.

Nesheiwat at lectern
Brendan Rivers / ADAPT/WJCT News

The newest edition of ADAPT, published Monday by WJCT Public Media, introduces a six-part podcast and web series profiling people working every day to help communities across the First Coast adapt to climate change and sea level rise.

In 2019, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis appointed the state’s first-ever chief resilience officer. In the midst of her initial meetings with local officials, Julia Nesheiwat shares the lessons she brings to the position from her time in the military and academia — and the time she created a federal bureau from the ground up. Technology, collaboration and cutting back on fossil fuel emissions should all be part of Florida’s strategy to adapt to climate change, she says.

Northeast Florida Regional Council Resiliency Coordinator Sean Lahav is just 24, but he’s already coordinating resilience efforts across all of Florida’s First Coast. His job includes getting “movers and shakers” from the private sector to think about incorporating sea level rise into their plans.

LEED certification, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, was created to encourage builders to be more sustainable. But last year, the entire city of Atlantic Beach undertook the process. City Manager Shane Corbin says the data gathering it required has given planners a roadmap for improving everything from energy efficiency to the amount of waste residents generate.

Trees do all sorts of amazing things —  trap and store carbon, protect us from floods, absorb pollutants and increase property values. Jacksonville’s Urban Forestry Manager Richard Leon looks at them as critical urban infrastructure and plans to plant as many as possible in the nation’s biggest city.

Scientists say the most important thing individuals can do to help fight climate change is to talk about it. But 64% of Americans say they rarely or never do. Lauren Watkins is trying to fix that. She teaches people how to have productive, non-polarizing conversations about environmental issues. She opens up her toolkit for us  — and opens up about the communication challenges in her own family.

Before we can talk about what to do about climate change, we have to understand what it is. Luckily, University of North Florida biology Professor Adam Rosenblatt has experience explaining the basics to his classes. He breaks down the science and then talks about his advocacy efforts on the local, state and national level.

ADAPT Trailer

Jan 21, 2020

Last year was the hottest-ever on record in Jacksonville—where some areas of town are still recovering from the last major hurricane.

And with seas projected to rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century, builders continue to put homes and businesses along the waterfront.

So who are the people in Northeast Florida working to protect us and help us adapt to sea-level rise and other effects of climate change?

We’ll meet them in the upcoming ADAPT podcast, hosted by Brendan Rivers.

City Hall exterior
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

At its final meeting on Friday, Jacksonville’s Storm Resiliency Committee recommended the city take steps to protect wetlands.

City Councilman Jim Love (a new member of the AAA Working Group) looks at a floodzone map of downtown Jacksonville.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s sea level rise work group voted unanimously Friday to expand its boundaries to include areas that have been impacted by flooding in recent hurricanes.

Florida's Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer.
IFAS News / University of Florida

In a call with reporters from across the state on Friday, Florida Chief Science Officer Tom Frazer said he recognizes Florida’s ongoing struggle with harmful algal blooms and will make water quality issues his priority moving forward.

These proposed additions to the red book would go through the Subdivision Standards and Policy Advisory Committee established via section 654.142 of the city charter.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s storm resiliency committee looks poised to recommend several changes to city development rules that members hope will improve drainage and reduce flooding.

Flooding in Jacksonville during Hurricane Irma.
Robert Torbert

After two months of fact finding meetings, Jacksonville’s Adaptation Action Area Working Group is ready to move to the next step.

The first order of business: expanding the group’s area of focus beyond the coastal areas mapped out when it was first established.

Jacksonville City Hall
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Councilmembers Lori Boyer and Jim Love have filed a bill they hope will better prepare Jacksonville for sea-level rise and flooding.

The Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine.
Castillo de San Marcos National Monument

An international conference on climate change and sea level rise and the threat they pose to historic resources in coastal and river communities is coming to St. Augustine.

Davide Tanasi taking 3D digital images at Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

In coastal cities like St. Augustine, historic sites are facing modern threats - climate change and sea level rise. Now historians and preservationists are turning to technologies like 3D imaging as they look to protect those cultural resources for future generations.

Jacksonville City Hall
Brendan Rivers / WJCT NEws

Members of a Jacksonville committee looking at infrastructure and resiliency against storms agree they need to bring in a consultant as they look to protect the city.

Welcome to Atlantic Beach sign.
Davide Santoriello / Flickr.com

The City of Atlantic Beach is trying to become Florida’s first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified city under a new U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) pilot program.

Jacksonville City Hall
Steven Martin / Flickr.com

More than two months after its first meeting, members of Jacksonville’s Storm Resiliency and Infrastructure Development Review Committee are beginning to spend less time learning and listening and more time putting together proposals they think will help prepare the city for sea level rise and flooding.

Green algae bloom in Palatka.
Sam Carr

The St. Johns Riverkeeper says multiple blue-green algal blooms have been reported in the Welaka, Satsuma and Palatka areas of Florida.

U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, says lawmakers cannot afford to ignore the environmental impacts of rising temperatures.

Trees in downtown Jacksonville.
qwesy qwesy / Wikimedia Commons

With a grant from the U.S. Forest Service, Jacksonville has hired a Virginia-based nonprofit to study the city’s trees and how they can be better utilized to address the problems of urban stormwater runoff, among other things.

Congressman John Rutherford
Bruce Lipsky / Florida Times-Union

Many Democrats in Washington D.C. have come out in support of the Green New Deal, a congressional resolution that lays out a sweeping plan for addressing climate change, but the legislation is facing stiff opposition from some Florida lawmakers.

How A Green New Deal Could Affect Storms, Floods And Heat In Jacksonville

Feb 20, 2019
Florida National Guard soldiers going door to door in the Jacksonville area around Ortega Island following Hurricane Irma, Sept. 11, 2017.
The National Guard / Flickr.com

When Hurricane Irma destroyed the house that Tom Davitt was renting on Jacksonville’s Westside, it also wrecked tens of thousands of dollars worth of his uninsured possessions and forced him to find a new home. “I rolled out of bed because I thought it was my alarm and it was a tornado warning - and I stepped into a foot and a half of water,” the yacht broker said. “I'm basically starting all over at my age, and I'm 56 years old.”

Storm Resiliency and Infrastructure Development Review Committee members met for the first time Friday.
Brendan Rivers / WJCT News

Jacksonville’s new Storm Resiliency and Infrastructure Development Review Committee met for the first time Friday afternoon and members agreed their first order of business will be to take a look at the rules and regulations surrounding new developments in the city and how to retrofit existing infrastructure.

JEA

Florida is seeing strong job growth in the solar sector.

Flooding in San Marco during Hurricane Irma.
Jessica Palombo / WJCT News

Local environmental advocates and policy experts say they’re cautiously optimistic about two recently announced committees designed to address sea level rise and flooding in Jacksonville.

Flooding in St. Augustine.
City of St. Augustine

The City of St. Augustine, with help from allies on Capitol Hill, is asking the federal government to help pay for a $3 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers study on sea level rise and flooding.

With clear skies and breezy winds, Florida Atlantic University (FAU) revealed its newest invention Tuesday at Pahokee Marina, in the southern half of Lake Okeechobee: a solar powered sailboat that will monitor and test for harmful algal blooms.

The Nav2 is the first autonomous vessel to be used for in-land algae monitoring. It’s the brainchild of FAU and the company Navocean. The two had an early version of the vessel monitor red tide on the west coast of Florida in December 2017 before making the official launch in Lake Okeechobee.

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