What We Can Do
TAKE ACTION NOW
Common-sense steps go a long way towards a more healthy and prosperous future.
You Can Make a Difference
Many environmental and economic issues have been introduced in the prior webpages with over 80 science, economics, and policy references. You may be interested in what we can do to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and our community. There is no one silver bullet that will resolve climate change. However, there are common-sense steps that will go a long way to ensuring a healthy and prosperous region and country.
Here are five focus areas where you can make a difference. All of these areas overlap among each other; working together in and across these scales will help develop stronger, healthier communities for all.
Source: Student Organization for Sustainability Action, Florida Tech
Source: F. Mays
The IRL and Coastal Ocean
Along the Indian River Lagoon, including the Space Coast and Treasure Coast, the Marine Resources Council has helped initiate and coordinate actions for 30 years among individual citizens and local partners. As coastal waters get hotter, you can help reduce the chance of algal blooms and fish kills by not overusing fertilizers and pesticides, and considering lagoon-friendly lawn options. At the scale of communities, Low Impact Development (LID) practices are essential for our growing population (EPA, 2013; FDEP, 2019). Here are more MRC tips on getting involved to protect our coastal waters. A partial list of other important organizations working the full length of the Indian River Lagoon and coastal ocean includes:
- IRL National Estuary Program
- Brevard Indian River Lagoon Coalition
- Surfrider Foundation, Space Coast Chapter
- Space Coast Climate Change Initiative
- Pelican Island Audubon Society
- Turtle Coast Sierra Club
- Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County
- Restore Our Shores, Brevard Zoo
- Florida Oceanographic Society
- Marine Discovery Center
Homes and Businesses
There are many choices that homeowners and businesses can make to produce less CO2 pollution. For example, the websites of the U.S. Department of Energy and many non-profit organizations have information on everything from building energy efficiency to landscaping for shade. Native trees and plants not only help protect the lagoon and coastal ocean, they also can also reduce the heat-signatures of buildings. Encouraging your friends and customers to take steps expands the positive outcomes.
The solar panel market continues to grow nationally with lower costs and solid returns bringing in more buyers. Small-scale solar generating capacity is projected to increase by 40% from 2019 to 2021, a 9 Gigawatt increase (Energy Information Administration, 2019).
Additional resources include:
Source: D. Schroeder, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
The City of Orlando has an electric vehicle fleet that is not vulnerable to gasoline distribution delays, in addition to many other sustainability innovations. Many cities are also considering solar panels for new construction or renovations to save money, reduce carbon emissions, and be more hurricane-prepared (e.g., RMI, 2017). Contact your city or county to learn how they are reducing carbon emissions or preparing for climate change effects (e.g., increased stormwater flooding, sea level rise) and using best practices in sustainability and resilience (e.g., municipal energy efficiency practices, solar powered buildings, electric vehicles).
City and county governments can also lead-by-example for innovative home and business owners (e.g., Carbon Neutral Cities, 2020). Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach, and Cape Canaveral are among the IRL municipalities developing initiatives that include renewable energy projects, energy efficient operations, and sustainable landscaping. To learn how to get more involved in non-partisan government policy, contact resources such as the Space Coast League of Women Voters.
Additional resources include:
State and Regional Governments
There is much overlap among local and state Florida actions and the more coordinated across scales, the better. The focus of Florida’s new Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection includes “preparing Florida’s coastal communities and state-managed lands from the effects of sea level rise, coastal flooding, erosion and future storms.”. Engaging with this office and other Florida state agencies working on climate change issues can be highly valuable (e.g., Fish & Wildlife Commission, Dept. of Agriculture).
There is a statewide array of regional planning councils and our region’s East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council are developing climate planning for future evacuation routes and long-term adaptation (e.g., the East Central Florida Resiliency Action Plan).
You can contact your state and regional representatives to inquire about actions that are being implemented for the IRL and our coastal ocean. Ask that the state invest in and re-incentivize renewable energy for cleaner governments, businesses, and homes. Upgrading building codes and growth management tools for diverse 21st century challenges is highly recommended (e.g., the Fourth National Climate Assessment (USGCRP, 2018) and East Central Florida Resiliency Action Plan).
Additional resources for all scales include:
Source: State of Florida
Source: Citizens Climate Lobby
If you have thought about climate change and how to tackle such a big issue, you probably have sensed that we will also need action at the national level. Congress has a bi-partisan Climate Solutions Caucus in both the House and the Senate. They are working on across-the-aisle legislation to advance smart climate solutions for America’s economic and environmental future.
One solution put forward by Republicans and Democrats is a carbon fee and dividend policy. This policy will drive down carbon pollution while unleashing American technology innovation and ingenuity. You can learn more about one such bill at Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.
Citizens Climate Lobby works with many national and local leaders on bi-partisan legislation to price carbon and give the proceeds directly to Americans via dividend checks to spend as they wish. If you’d like more information, contact the Space Coast Chapter of CCL or the Treasure Coast Chapter of CCL. Members of the CCL along the IRL are just normal citizens from all walks of life who are concerned about the path of climate change and are working together to make a difference.
Learn more about how to join Citizens Climate Lobby. Individual citizens are asked to write or call your members of Congress. Let them know that you care about climate change and that we need effective solutions – soon, such as those in the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act.