Climate Change

The scientific consensus, documented in the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and by other scientific organizations, is that greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and accumulation in the atmosphere are causing and, barring prompt and extensive preventive action, will accelerate climate change. GHGs include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons, and hydrofluorocarbons. The release of carbon dioxide and methane, through extraction and combustion of fossil fuels for energy production and transportation, is the primary cause of climate change.

The earth’s climate responds to increased GHGs through increased global surface and ocean temperatures and sea level rise. Accompanying those responses, ocean acidification has been increasing dramatically. Without preventive action, these increases will be greater and, even more, threatening. Climate change is expected to contribute to altered weather patterns including more severe droughts and flooding as well as to further exacerbate ocean acidification; all effects seen as likely to negatively affect global food security. 

National Audubon Society’s Birds and Climate Change report finds that 314 North American bird species are “climate endangered”. Preserving natural habitats here in Florida's “climate strongholds” helps populations of many species, in not only the state but also the entire Western Hemisphere.

Florida’s built environment is especially vulnerable to the effects of climate change and sea level rise. Eighty percent of Florida’s residents live in coastal areas, and most of Florida’s 80 million tourists visit coastal areas. Florida is especially vulnerable to storms and droughts.

Florida’s natural environment will be affected directly and indirectly as a result of economic and structural losses and efforts to mitigate the impacts of change. Direct impacts to the environment include seawater intrusion, erosion, droughts, and storms. The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact estimates that seas in South Florida will rise another ½ foot by 2030 and two more feet by 2060. Climate-related loss and degradation of ecosystem functions and habitat diversity will stress most birds, and many other plants and animal species, which are not able to adapt to anticipated changes. Sea level rise contributes to erosion and inundation of coastal habitats including parts of the Everglades and saltwater intrusion of freshwater aquifers. Excessive droughts and stormwater reduce nesting season productivity for many bird species. Ocean acidification interferes with the productivity of complex marine ecosystems and organisms such as coral, crustaceans, and mollusks.

Florida businesses, residents, and visitors are significant consumers of fossil fuel energy. Our activities cause significant release of GHGs. Because our state is so vulnerable to the effects of climate change, Florida should be a leader in policies and actions to reduce GHG emissions and to help prevent the effects of climate change from reaching catastrophic levels.

Climate change impact on Florida’s wildlife can be mitigated through protecting, maintaining, and restoring the resiliency of natural habitats as climate strongholds.

Therefore, be it resolved:

Audubon Florida, deploying professional staff and expertise and using information derived from sound science, will call on the volunteer leadership of local Audubon societies (chapters), members and grassroots networks, and will work with conservation allies, business and community leaders, public officials, and agencies to:

Reduce Emission of Greenhouse Gases  

  • Promote local, state, and federal laws, policies, and actions, including the EPA proposed rules to reduce power plant emissions by 30 percent, to set specific and enforceable greenhouse gas emission targets and reduction goals at levels that will reduce overall risks and the most severe impacts of climate change;
  • Encourage state renewable energy policies including a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requiring utilities to supply a percentage of electricity from renewable sources;
  • Promote green building standards, and energy efficiency and conservation by energy customers to reduce consumption of electric power;
  • Support adoption of strong federal vehicle emissions and fuel-efficiency standards to significantly reduce GHG emissions from transportation uses;
  • Oppose transportation projects that increase Florida’s dependence on single passenger vehicle use, and support alternatives including public transportation and safe and expanded bicycle and pedestrian use;
  • Push for conservation and efficient use of water supply, landscape irrigation and wastewater to lower use of electricity to process and pump water;
  • Oppose drilling for oil and gas off Florida’s coasts and in other areas of the nation at risk from the impacts of fossil fuel extraction; and
  • Oppose fracking associated with oil and gas extraction procedures in Florida at least until adequate rules and safeguards for water supply are adopted.

Educate People about Policies and Personal Actions to Reduce GHG Emissions

  • Use energy efficient appliances, lighting and fuel sources in homes and workplaces;
  • Improve homes and workplaces to reduce energy consumption, emphasizing weatherization to reduce loss of cooled or heated air to the outside environment;
  • Use online meetings, ride-sharing, bicycling, walking, and public transportation; support the transition to electric vehicles;
  • Recycle and compost to reduce landfill and waste-to-energy plant emissions;
  • Choose foods and other products with lower energy and water footprints;
  • Conserve water and energy with native and wildlife-friendly landscape practices; and
  • Avoid the use of gardening with peat to help preserve peat bogs which store carbon and provide habitat.

Promote Ecologically Sound Sea Level Rise Adaptation Strategies

  • Conduct research and monitoring to document and report coastal habitats, birds, and other wildlife to inform coastal resiliency programs;
  • Educate people and policymakers about impacts of the rising waters on habitats and water resources;
  • Oppose ecologically harmful and expensive adaptation strategies, including beach armoring, sea walls, and other practices that marginalize or eliminate habitat;
  • Support adaptation strategies like Everglades restoration that aim to make habitat more resilient; and
  •  Support coastal retreat policies that help relocate residents and businesses away from dynamic coastal areas rather than help rebuild severely storm damaged properties.
Florida Climate Change Messenger
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Florida Climate Change Messenger

Make sure the local government response to sea level rise helps Florida's coastal wildlife.

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America’s Bird Species Threatened by Global Warming ‘Gut Punch,’ New Audubon Study Reveals
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America’s Bird Species Threatened by Global Warming ‘Gut Punch,’ New Audubon Study Reveals

Florida’s habitats are projected to be a climate stronghold for the continent’s birds

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News & Updates

Florida Audubon Society Board Votes to Endorse Amendment 4
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Florida Audubon Society Board Votes to Endorse Amendment 4

The amendment would allow the Legislature to exempt property taxes for solar and other renewable energy devices.

Audubon Florida Releases Bird Habitat Protection Recommendations for Coastal Engineering
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Audubon Florida Releases Bird Habitat Protection Recommendations for Coastal Engineering

Report recommendations will benefit American Oystercatchers and other imperiled shorebirds.

Free PDF: Audubon Florida Naturalist Magazine Spring 2016 - "It's a Baby Issue"
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Free PDF: Audubon Florida Naturalist Magazine Spring 2016 - "It's a Baby Issue"

Download your free copy of Audubon Florida's award-winning conservation magazine.

America’s Bird Species Threatened by Global Warming ‘Gut Punch,’ New Audubon Study Reveals
Press Center

America’s Bird Species Threatened by Global Warming ‘Gut Punch,’ New Audubon Study Reveals

— Florida’s habitats are projected to be a climate stronghold for the continent’s birds
Fracking in Florida Update: August 2014
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Fracking in Florida Update: August 2014

Last spring, you added your name to Audubon's petition to show the oil and gas industry that Floridians stand united to protect Florida' water resources.

Fracking Petition Arrives at Capitol
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Fracking Petition Arrives at Capitol

Eric Draper, Audubon Florida Executive Director, hand-delivered a copy of the “Stop Fracking in Florida” petition to Rep. Ray Rodrigues (R-Ft. Myers) on Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

Take Action: Stop Fracking in Florida
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Take Action: Stop Fracking in Florida

Add your name to Audubon's petition to protect Florida's water right now.

How you can help, right now