Water-Related News

Major environmental summit urges focus on challenge of climate change in Southwest Florida

A major regional climate conference brought together a diverse collection of people and their ideas to work together to find a sustainable way of life in the future despite some differing beliefs how to get from here to there.

Dozens of community members from environmental nonprofits, academia, community groups, and local, state, and federal governments attended the day-long Southwest Florida Climate and Community Summit in Naples on Tuesday.

The hope was the gathering would muster a community-wide consensus for developing a strategy to deal with undeniable warming temperatures and more extreme weather events that are now evident, and not just in Southwest Florida where monster storms like Hurricane Ian in September were proven to unleash more energy

“This is timely in that climate change, that was spoken of as a future event, is now clearly bearing down upon us,” said Jennifer Hecker, executive director at Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership. “This information is critical to raise awareness and understanding of what we need to do to adapt mitigate, and lessen the impacts of sea level rise and other climate factors in our region.”

Hecker oversees a watershed that spreads through Southwest Florida and covers Dona & Roberts bays to the north and Estero Bay and Pine Island Sound including the Caloosahatchee River basin to the south. Hecker’s coastal and wetland partnership is part of the EPA’s National Estuary Program.

“We convene our partners throughout the year to tackle regional problems that affect our natural resources and quality of life, which of course includes climate change,” she told the more than 250 people at the summit. “Just this last week we had our management committee meet with 13 federal agencies to discuss hurricane and resiliency needs, as well as a researcher from the national laboratory who analyzed the hurricane (Ian) and found it that it dropped 17% more precipitation due to climate change factors.”