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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Hermine, Louisiana, rising sea levels: a ticking time bomb

Did any of you Gators go surfing over the summer? Well, bust those boards back out and buy an extra pair of swimming trunks, because we’re about to get some serious rain over the next couple of days. Tropical Storm Hermine is set to hit the Big Bend area (aka armpit) of our not-so-Sunshine State today at about 1 p.m.

This is deeply concerning for two reasons: One, if Hermine attains hurricane strength, it’ll be the first one we’ve had in 11 years — since most of us were in elementary or early middle school. Two, who on earth came up with the name Hermine? All you had to do was add an “o” to make it “Hermione.” Maybe then we could just fly Emma Watson down to the panhandle and cast away the storm with a spell. Problem solved. But alas, here we are — an impending storm and no Emma Watson.

We should consider ourselves lucky, though. Our storm won’t be nearly as bad as what Louisiana has endured in recent weeks. Almost three weeks ago, intense rains and flooding devastated certain towns in Louisiana, amounting to what the Red Cross said is the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy. Thirteen people dead, at least 40,000 homes destroyed, $205 million in financial support to flood survivors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency: This is serious.

Why should we care about what happens in Louisiana, you may ask? Well, first off, it’s only a 10-hour drive away. If whatever deity you pray to — God, Allah, Morgan Freeman, Queen Bey (we don’t judge) — decided to aim those floods further south, we’d be the ones in deep water right now. Second, Bill Nye. The science superstar appeared on CNN on Aug. 23 to discuss Louisiana and said, “This is a result of climate change. It’s only going to get worse.”

And if Bill Nye isn’t good enough for you, then take NASA’s word for it. Global temperatures are rising in ways we haven’t seen in 1,000 years, NASA officials have said. And with rising temperatures come rising sea levels, which means very bad news for Florida.

So, what can we do? If you’re particularly bold, or if you just really don’t like the classes you got stuck with after the drop/add period, you could make the trip out to Louisiana and help at the various relief sites. Or, for a more practical approach, you could call our very own Florida representatives and voice your concern over Florida’s lack of preparation given the rise of sea levels and the very real dangers that could result.

Does calling representatives’ offices actually work? If one or two of you do it, then probably not. But, if each of you reading this paper right now took five minutes to call Marco Rubio’s office, for instance, and speak with his staff members, then maybe all of you together could actually make some waves. And honestly, given how much water Rubio drinks in the middle of his speeches, he’d probably appreciate us making a splash.

The point is: Do something, anything. For years on end far too many of us, both citizens and policymakers alike, have looked at climate change and said, “Eh — I’m sure Al Gore’s got that taken care of.” But he doesn’t. Al Gore doesn’t have a lot of things taken care of.

That’s why it’s up to you to make these things happen. And if we don’t act? Well, let’s just hope other states decide to care about us when we start having massive floods. Or maybe one-way flights to Canada come at a cheap rate? (Spoiler: they don’t).

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