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Survey: Climate change concerns most people in Southwest Florida

Posted at 6:27 PM, Feb 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-01 12:13:30-05

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Between Hurricane Irma and major flooding problems, Southwest Florida has seen some rough weather in the past couple of years. But what, if anything, does the wild weather have to do with climate change?

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida partnered with a group called ecoAmerica to conduct a survey of Southwest Floridians to find out how people feel about the issue.

"A big number of respondents connect the challenges of extreme weather and algae blooms to their health," said Jennifer Roberts of ecoAmerica.

The survey's results indicate that sixty-nine percent of Southwest Floridians believe red tide and blue-green algae blooms have been made worse by pollution and climate change. The same survey shows that sixty-seven percent responded that Hurricane Irma caused them to be more concerned about climate change.

"We found that Hurricane Irma was a wake-up call," Roberts said.

Last month, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis established the Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection.

Rob Moher, president of the Conservancy, said a big part of protecting the coast should include preserving mangroves, which act as a buffer against severe storms and coastal flooding.

"The number one thing we can do is protect nature," Moher said. "Mangroves were some of the best defenses when Irma came through."

Other results from the survey:

- 93% agree governments should do more to protect mangroves and wetlands

- 78% agree that rising sea levels threaten the well-being of the community

- 63% say Irma has motivated them to do more to prepare for climate change

- 56% say Irma has inspired them to do more to stop pollution that causes climate change