American Survival Guide

FIRST HAND IN­SPEC­TION

- Weather · Ecology · Climate Change · England · Florida · New Hampshire · Mexico · Homosassa, FL

In an ef­fort to get out of New Eng­land’s cold and snow, and to get a good look at how cli­mate change is af­fect­ing other ar­eas, I trav­eled to Florida in March of this year.

What I found re­ally opened my eyes.

Day one found me deal­ing with air tem­per­a­tures that were in the mid-30s, not much warmer than what I had left in New Hamp­shire; not the norm for Florida.

Tem­per­a­tures were not the only is­sue. Ac­cord­ing to some of the lo­cals, this past win­ter had been ex­tremely dry. Win­ter is nor­mally their wet sea­son, so this lack of rain would def­i­nitely show its ef­fects dur­ing the sum­mer.

To in­spect the en­vi­ron­ment, I took to a kayak and made my way down the Ho­mosassa River. De­spite the lack of rain, the river was run­ning nor­mal, but the cold snap had changed the habits of the lo­cal wildlife, par­tic­u­larly the mana­tee. Mana­tees are very vul­ner­a­ble to tem­per­a­ture changes. Nor­mally they would be head­ing to the wa­ters of the Gulf of Mex­ico, where they feed on sea grass but, be­cause of the cold, they were stay­ing in the rel­a­tively warm wa­ters of the river. The rivers are fed by un­der­ground springs that keep the water tem­per­a­ture at about 70 de­grees (F). Will the im­pact of ris­ing ocean wa­ters and chang­ing air tem­per­a­tures have enough of an ef­fect on this en­vi­ron­ment to en­dan­ger this crea­ture’s sur­vival?

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