| Opinion contributor
Climate change is no distant threat for generations far down the road. Here in Florida, we are already experiencing and aware of the well-known effects of global warming, from stronger and more frequent hurricanes to sea-level rise.
But, as an inland community seemingly distanced from these threats, it can be easier to talk down the dangers of climate change. Unfortunately, we are not as distant from climate issues as we might think.
In the Gainesville area, climate change poses real threats to our food and water supply. While saving the polar bears and our coastal cities are strong calls to act on climate, it can seem intangible and out of individuals’ reach unless it is impacting them directly. I am here to tell you that all communities, even inland, will be affected by the climate crisis and must act accordingly.
Saltwater intrusion will threaten our drinking water
Florida uniquely rests on limestone, and in it lies the Floridan Aquifer, which serves as our fresh water supply in Gainesville.
The Floridan Aquifer is surrounded by the ocean’s saltwater. The waters have historically remained intact and separated, but our activities are causing our aquifer to be contaminated as saltwater intrudes into our limestone.
Sea level rise, as well as over-pumping from the aquifer, is causing saltwater intrusion. This sea-level rise won’t only contaminate the coastal aquifers, but move inland through aquifers in contact with the ocean or through canals exiting to the ocean.
As our water supply becomes contaminated with saltwater, more and more of it will become undrinkable. Climate change is a threat to our state’s water supply — which we all rely on to survive.
Food insecurity will prey on the vulnerable
Not only will we lose our abundant source of freshwater, but climate change also threatens agriculture and food production as well. With hotter temperatures and more extreme weather, major crops like corn, rice and wheat will experience stagnated growth rates, causing price increases as a result.
These effects will be felt by the most vulnerable communities, exacerbating the issue and adding to the 19% of Alachua County residents that are already food insecure. Climate change is not a single issue — it permeates into all aspects of our lives.
We must act, and vote, on climate
The issues won’t go away on their own. For too long, the leadership in Florida has refused to act on the climate crisis. As a student, I am looking at these issues with a long arm into the future, and I can confidently say that the generations in power right now are not helping give me confidence in our collective future.
It’s time to act. It’s time to vote for the people who will put environmental issues first. Because it’s not just an environmental issue. It’s a humanitarian issue. It’s an economic issue. It’s a survival issue.
We can’t just keep throwing this ball further down the generations. As adults…