October 14 Weekly Newsletter
The IRNA and CWC are here to give you the info you need. Before the elections for the Sebastian and Vero Beach City Councils, we sent out a questionnaire to the candidates about water conservation, managing growth, and what they see for the future of our cities.
For the Vero Beach City Council, Honey Minuse, Taylor Dingle, and John Cotugno got back to us with their thoughts.
For Sebastian City Council, Damian H. Gilliams (Sr.), Sherrie Matthews, and Bob McPartlan replied. Damien L. “Junior” Gilliams, Fred Jones, and Christopher Robert Nunn, though, didn't get back to us, even after a few tries.
If you're voting, take a minute to look over the candidates' answers. It'll help you get a feel for where they stand. Remember to vote on November 7!
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Your support is more than a donation; it's an investment in education and a cleaner, healthier community. By backing our mission, you're taking a stand for safe, reliable water access. We're grateful for your partnership; we can't do it without you, please donate today. Thank you.
With statewide, tangible actions, we can collect and process the number of signatures we need in the time we have left -- but only if we're honest, only if we're courageous, and only if we truly love what we're fighting for. Get involved! IRNA will be at several events in the next few weeks collecting petitions from attendees and we could use your help! Reach out to Karen Wynn at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up for a shift!
News Headlines and Articles
Tired of clogged roads, clear-cut trees, worse in Vero Beach, Sebastian, Stuart, PSL? Act (TCPalm) - If you're looking to get involved, the IRNA is a great organization that deals with this kind of issue all the time. We are always looking for more help and volunteers.
Will Florida manatees be listed as an endangered species again? Feds to review data. (Tampa Bay Times) - Federal wildlife officials are reviewing whether to reclassify Florida manatees as an endangered species again, following a spike in deaths largely due to human-caused seagrass loss in Indian River Lagoon and other areas.
Cold front coming to Vero Beach next week (Vero News) - A cold front is expected to hit Vero Beach early next week, bringing temperatures in the upper 50s to lower 60s in the mornings and mid-70s in the afternoons.
The race to protect Florida's Wildlife Corridor (WUSF) - The Florida Wildlife Corridor, home to diverse wildlife and crucial for conservation, faces threats from development on 8 million unprotected acres, discussed in the documentary series "Protect Our Paradise" with a focus on preservation costs and the potential to safeguard this vital corridor.
‘There won’t be anything left’: Florida teens battle city over plan to loosen wetland protections (The Guardian) - Good to see youth involvement. Florida teenagers are actively opposing a Manatee County commission's proposal to reduce the buffer distance between wetlands and development, arguing that it prioritizes construction profits over the preservation of native flora and fauna for future generations.
Some Manatee County voters say they won't forget wetlands decision (Your Observer) - After a 5-1 vote to reduce wetland protections in Manatee County, residents vow to impact future elections and question the commissioners' motivations, particularly their focus on property rights for developers at the expense of environmental conservation.
Climate change is a fiscal disaster for local governments − our study shows how it’s testing communities in Florida (The Conversation) - The impact of climate change, including sea-level rise, on Florida's municipalities is substantial, with over half of the state's municipalities at risk, potentially causing significant losses in property tax revenues and forcing difficult decisions regarding development and fiscal sustainability.
Coral researchers see ‘mass mortality’ amid Florida Reef bleaching crisis (Tampa Bay Times) - The corals offshore of Key Largo, Florida, including elkhorn and staghorn corals, have experienced a devastating "mass mortality" event, with over 90% of parent corals dead following a summer of record ocean temperatures, leading to concerns about the ability to restore these vulnerable populations.
A fascinating and troubling documentary: The Story of Plastic is a searing exposé revealing the ugly truth behind plastic pollution and the false solution of plastic recycling. Different from every other plastic documentary you’ve seen, The Story of Plastic presents a cohesive timeline of how we got to our current global plastic pollution crisis and how the oil and gas industry has successfully manipulated the narrative around it. From the extraction of fossil fuels and plastic disposal to the global resistance fighting back, The Story of Plastic is a life-changing, Emmy-winning film depicting one of the world’s most pressing environmental issues. The Story of Plastic is available to watch on the subscription DiscoveryGo streaming service, for rent on Amazon, on Apple TV, and on Xfinity video-on-demand.
Dirty money: How ‘pay for play’ media helps special interests slant the story (VoteWater.org) - Florida Politics, a media site covering state issues, (which we have linked to before in this newsletter) allegedly offers paid coverage to politicians and special interest groups, according to an NPR report. The outlet is accused of pushing narratives beneficial to its advertisers, like Big Sugar, affecting the quality and integrity of news. This compromises efforts for clean water and politics in Florida.
Scientists count huge melts in many protective Antarctic ice shelves. Trillions of tons of ice lost. (AP News) - A new study reports significant shrinkage in Antarctic ice shelves since 1997, contributing to sea level rise and altering ocean density. The most drastic losses occurred on the continent's western side, with the Thwaites ice shelf losing 70% of its mass.
World breaches key 1.5C warming mark for record number of days (BBC) - The world has breached the key warming threshold of 1.5°C higher than pre-industrial levels on approximately a third of days in 2023, raising concerns among scientists about the acceleration of climate change impacts and surpassing the limits set in the Paris Agreement.
MIT’s New Desalination System Produces Freshwater That Is “Cheaper Than Tap Water” (SciTechDaily) - MIT engineers and collaborators have developed a solar-powered desalination system that utilizes natural sunlight to turn seawater into drinkable water, achieving a high water-production rate and salt-rejection rate, potentially producing drinking water at a rate and cost cheaper than tap water production.
Archaeologists dive into Florida’s past and find lessons on adapting to future sea rise (Miami Herald) - Archaeologists in Florida are using submerged landscape archaeology to study ancient settlements and ceremonial sites that are now underwater due to sea level rise, offering valuable lessons for modern Floridians facing similar challenges.
C-44 Reservoir cost $339 million, but it's leaking and holding 80% less water than it should (TCPalm) - The C-44 Reservoir in Florida, designed to control Lake Okeechobee discharges, is experiencing leaks and holding only 20% of its maximum capacity due to an undisclosed issue, with the Army Corps of Engineers working on a solution without estimating the cost or duration of the fix.
With whales in trouble, conservationists, fishers, and others team up to protect them (Coastal News Today) - A California program is bringing together fishers, conservationists, and officials to adapt to climate change and protect endangered marine animals like whales from entanglements with fishing gear, while still preserving the fishing industry.
People working on climate solutions are facing a big obstacle: conspiracy theories (NPR) - Climate solutions are facing challenges from falsehoods and conspiracy theories that target not only the existence of climate change but also attack climate-friendly solutions like renewable energy and urban planning initiatives like 15-minute cities, making it difficult to enact meaningful climate policies.
Good news from Florida Oceanographic Society!
The summer heat hasn't slowed down the Florida Oceanographic Society's seagrass nursery. Their manatee grass experiment, running for almost a year now, has shown impressive growth rates between 600-1400%.
These findings are backed by a second study in a nearby tank. It turns out that seagrasses cut into individual root/shoot units, known as ramets, outperform uncut ones. Take a look at the graph for the details.
This could be a game-changer for scaling up manatee grass growth in nurseries. More plants open the door for further research and restoration efforts in the Indian River Lagoon.
Is Live Local Act the terrifying bogeyman Florida developers are making it out to be? (TCPalm) - The Live Local Act in Florida, touted by developers as a tool to bypass local government restrictions, actually aims to address housing affordability and isn't as universally advantageous for developers as claimed; it has specific requirements and limitations that balance community and developmental interests.
Florida wants to more than double size of Mosaic’s ‘radioactive roads’ plan (Tampa Bay Times) - Fertilizer company Mosaic plans to more than double the size of its test for using radioactive phosphate waste in road construction, following advice from Florida's Department of Transportation. The move has sparked concerns about potential risks to human and environmental health. Critics point out the political influence Mosaic has, given its financial contributions to state Republicans and lobbying efforts.
‘Without water, there is no life’: Drought in Brazil’s Amazon is sharpening fears for the future (AP News) - Extreme drought in Brazil's Amazon is severely impacting local communities and wildlife, with experts warning that conditions could last until 2024.
We’re playing hot potato with insurance risk, and everybody is losing (Coastal News Today) - Climate change is altering the insurance industry's risk transfer model, leading to increased risk for insurers and policyholders, with low- and moderate-income households being the most vulnerable to climate-related financial devastation, necessitating strategic investments in risk reduction, a rethinking of the government's role in risk management, and means-tested assistance programs for flood insurance to avoid leaving the most vulnerable to bear the brunt of climate risk, according to Carolyn Kousky, Associate Vice President for Economics and Policy at the Environmental Defense Fund.
Microplastics found throughout Missouri cave untouched by humans for 30 years (KSDK) - Research from St. Louis University has revealed that microplastics, which can have detrimental effects on ecosystems and organisms, have been found in a cave near Oakville, Missouri, which has been untouched by humans for 30 years, with the particles being nearly 100 times more concentrated in the cave's sediment than in its water, likely due to flooding events transporting microplastics into the cave and depositing them in the sediment.
A Simple Solution for Keeping Microplastics Out of the Water Supply (The Atlantic) - Researchers in China have developed synthetic sponges made mostly from starch and gelatin that can effectively remove microplastics and nanoplastics from liquids, including tap water and seawater, offering a potential solution to combat microplastic pollution in wastewater-treatment plants or food-production facilities, and even in washing machines to trap fibers shed by synthetic fabrics during washing, although concerns about competition for key ingredients like starch and gelatin exist, and the environmental impact of the production process needs to be addressed.
Dense Micro-Forests Are Thriving in France (Reasons to Be Cheerful) - Boomforest, a French nonprofit, is using the Miyawaki method of reforestation, which involves densely planting native tree species in a layered manner to recreate natural forests, leading to faster forest growth, lower temperatures, reduced noise pollution, and enhanced biodiversity in urban areas, with similar projects spreading globally.
It's a fact!
Manatee ears hear high-pitched sounds well. To communicate with one another, manatees emit sounds underwater best described as chirps, whistles, or squeaks. It is not believed that they are used for navigational purposes, though they are used to maintain contact, especially when manatees are feeding or traveling in turbid water. Most common are vocalizations between mothers and calves. Find more facts here.