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Climate Matters

Climate Matters

 

Why does it matter?

Community leaders are calling for action to stem the impacts of climate change due to long-term effects on our environment that are affecting Earth’s life support systems. Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties are vulnerable to coastal flooding, more frequent storms, and more days of extreme heat. Identifying the most vulnerable members of the community will be the imperative. Providing public health education about the impact of extreme heat with information on how to recognize and respond to heat stress and heat stroke will provide for a safer learning environment. There is no certainty of knowing how extreme environmental conditions could be in the future with the continued influence of human-induced climate change.

Average Annual Temperature

Pensacola Metro Area (Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties)

Sources: “County Time Series,” National Center for Environmental Information, 2015-2020, Datasheet retrieved from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov. Data visualization provided by the UWF Haas Center.

 

Where are we now?

Youth may be disproportionately affected by climate induced stresses (Majeed 2017) A recent global survey by researchers at the University of Bath and under peer review in The Lancet found: “Climate change has significant implications for the health and futures of children and young people, yet they have little power to limit its harm, making them vulnerable to increased climate anxiety.” (Marks el al 2021) Youth need to feel empowered to make changes that assure their future on the planet. They also need to witness the adults in their lives and their communities actively participating in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Extreme heat, high humidity, and increasing numbers of storms are predicted for our area. Planning should include public education, neighborhoods organizing, vulnerability assessments, and coordinated public, private, and citizen action. Escambia and Santa Rosa County have long been resilient to hurricanes and have an infrastructure of services and public information systems that can be used to respond to climate induced changes in weather.

The City of Pensacola’s Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Task Force has published a report with recommendations. Santa Rosa County is currently assessing its vulnerability to flooding from climate change. These are positive indicators that the two-county communities are actively planning to adapt to climate impacts. Public health education with assistance provided to the most vulnerable members of the community will empower them to adapt to climate changes.

How do we measure it?

  • Majeed Haris and Johnathon Lee. 2017. “The Impact of Climate Change on Youth Depression and Mental Health.” The Lancet Planetary Health. 1: e94-e95. https://doi.org.

  • Marks, Elizabeth, Caroline Pihkaka Hickman,  and Panu Pihkala, et al. 2021. “Young People's Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon.” The Lancet: First Look: http://dx.doi.org.

What call to action is linked to this indicator?

Our region’s economic vitality has long depended on the unique and beautiful natural setting where we live, work and play. For most of its history, Northwest Florida tourism was the driving industry. With climate change, however, infrastructure is threatened by sea level rise and extreme weather while labor and community life will be impacted by extreme heat. Keeping the natural buffer of beaches and dunes, and planning for the health of bays and watersheds is critical. Weatherization of homes in the most vulnerable areas, and building codes that incorporate designs that reduce energy use and utilize landscaping that cools soil and produces shade—all build resiliency in the human and built environments. Efforts to protect shorelines, stabilize roads, buildings, homes, bridges, and ports will contribute to economic health that has characterized the region for centuries.

Average Annual Temperature

Escambia County, Santa Rosa County, The state of Florida

The annual average temperature by location measured in degrees fahrenheit.

Sources: “Climate at a Glance: Statewide Time Series,” National Center for Environmental Information, 2015-2020, Datasheet retrieved from https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/cag/. Data visualization provided by the UWF Haas Center.