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Climate in a Summer of Extremes

The temperature broke 110 degrees for 19 straight days in Arizona. In California, temperatures came close to meeting the 130 degrees Fahrenheit record reached only twice in Death Valley – first in August 2020, and again in July 2021. Unprecedented heat has broken nearly 900 daily high-temperature records since the beginning of June. Across the Northeast, mid-July downpours inundated communities, trapping people in homes, devastating businesses, and washing out roadways.  Over 9 inches of rain fell in Calais, Vermont, causing a river near the capital of Montpelier to rise 15 feet in a single day, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. And from the Midwest to New York City, over 13 million acres of wildfire in Canada have driven residents inside – giving rise to summer days lost to “red zone” air quality, along with the reappearance of N-95 facemasks. This summer, weather patterns and heatwaves are making headlines, and more citizens are experiencing the pernios climate impacts that have long been forecasted, but which many assumed were decades away from occurring.


Florida’s summer temperatures have also soared, and residents scan the Atlantic for disturbances as we approach peak hurricane season. With ocean waters reaching 90 degrees around the Sunshine State, scientists are concerned about the health of coral and fisheries, and we have prime conditions for intense coastal storms. With this in mind, the Fall Y&How Lunch and Learn series kicks off on September 6th at noon with Mr. Dan Summers, the Chief Emergency Management professional for Collier County, who will present Beyond Batteries and Bottled Water. We’ve asked him to discuss the links between climate and increasingly extreme weather including heat, rainfall, and hurricanes – and to share professional insight on preparing for these emergencies. We invite you to REGISTER NOW and mark your calendars for the first Wednesday of the month – stay tuned for additional details as we anticipate tackling unique topics.


Our founding partner, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, shared great news in their long effort to limit future development in the Rural Land Stewardship Area (RLSA), a chunk of eastern Collier County that provides prime habitat for panthers and protects important water resources. A settlement was reached with Collier Enterprises (and an agreement made with Collier County) in their Rivergrass Village lawsuit that would preserve 654 acres of critical habitat and extinguish 65,000 development credits.  The Conservancy’s steadfast work on this conservation effort will curtail sprawl that would negatively impact our natural environment and thwart climate mitigation goals in our region.


On another front, the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Coastal Storm Risk Management (CSRM) Study for Collier County continues.  The CSRM will ultimately recommend a plan aimed at reducing the county’s risk from storm surge, supporting resilience, and enhancing public safety.  In June, the USACE presented an “array of alternatives”, confirming that the surge barrier once proposed for Wiggins Pass is no longer under consideration and pledging to maximize use of nature-based solutions. The County and USACE have committed to keeping the environmental community informed with monthly conversations, and we continue to urge that the CSRM study incorporate compounding flooding impacts.  The USACE and the County will host public “Virtual Monthly Project Status” meetings to share general updates on the study, answer public questions, and hear comments, so we urge Collier residents to stay engaged.


Growing Climate Solutions newsletters aim to connect climate issues to our daily lives and promote sustainable choices in transportation, food, shopping, and recreational activities. In the dog days of summer, we chose to cover aspects of sustainability relevant to our summertime travels.  We hope you enjoy learning a bit about how climate is shaping farming in the Midwest, the sustainability challenges of the cruise industry, and the positive sustainability culture observed in San Francisco.  With many of our readers out and about visiting family and friends, and exploring new places, we wish you a safe, cool, and happy August!

-Ana and Bridget




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