DANIELLE LINDSAY | Orlando Sentinel

FL - Harnessing hurricane season: Taking action on climate change | Commentary

The need for a new environmental movement in Florida is not just a talking point; it is an urgent necessity. The adverse effects of climate change are no longer distant threats but daily realities for Floridians.

As a transplant to this beautiful state and an avid outdoorswoman, I have seen the unique effects of climate change up close. The devastation caused by Hurricane Ian in 2022 and subsequent hurricanes, such as the recent Hurricane Idalia, laid bare the state’s vulnerability.

Hurricane season in Florida is no ordinary weather forecast; it’s a stark reality check. The gales and torrential rains reveal the vulnerabilities of our coastal communities, accentuating the pressing need to address climate change and its impacts. Rising sea levels, intensified storms and the extensive damage they cause are not hypothetical scenarios but real-life threats that Floridians confront each year.

Florida faces an array of other environmental challenges too. Algae blooms and red tide outbreaks are becoming all too common. These toxic algal blooms harm marine life, wreak havoc on the tourism industry and pose health risks to our residents. The sight of once-pristine beaches littered with dead fish and murky waters is a wake-up call, one that should stir our collective resolve to protect our natural treasures.

My journey to the American Conservation Coalition (ACC), the largest right-of-center grassroots environmental organization in the country, is a testament to the growing movement that recognizes the urgency of conservation and the need for pragmatic, market-oriented solutions to protect our environment. My diverse background, including degrees in business, my previous role as a financial analyst, and hands-on experience in both environmental advocacy and politics, equips me to be a leader in our movement.

You might wonder why ACC’s new Florida state director, originally from Wisconsin, chose to relocate to Florida. The answer is simple: the environment matters. My journey into environmental advocacy stems from a deep-seated connection to Florida’s unique ecosystems. While visiting family in West Florida as a child, I developed an early appreciation for our state’s diverse landscapes, from its lush wetlands to its pristine coastal regions.

One thing that fuels my passion for conservation is the time spent kayaking through the breathtaking springs in Central Florida. The crystal-clear waters and vibrant aquatic life painted a picture of nature’s splendor. But over the years, we have seen these fragile ecosystems suffer due to pollution and ecological mismanagement. It’s a testament to the pressing need for conservation and sustainable practices in Florida. This connection is what ultimately led me to the field of environmental advocacy.

ACC members across the state of Florida are working to showcase how economic prosperity and environmental stewardship are not at odds but can go hand in hand. From promoting renewable energy solutions to advocating for sustainable water management practices, we are dedicated to finding practical, market-based approaches that protect our state’s natural beauty. Through initiatives like oyster bagging for reef restoration, tree planting and monthly beach cleanups, ACC is forging connections that bridge the gap between conservation and conservatism.

As I step into my role as Florida state director with ACC, I am committed to working tirelessly to promote a thriving and vibrant Florida while preserving the natural beauty we all cherish. Our state’s environmental challenges are vast, but so is our capacity for change. Let us use this hurricane season not just as a reminder of our vulnerabilities but as a catalyst for transformative action in the realm of conservation.

Danielle Lindsay, based in Orlando, is the Florida state director at the American Conservation Coalition (ACC). You can reach her at for more information on ACC’s initiatives in Florida.

This opinion piece was distributed by The Invading Sea website ( The site posts news and commentary on climate change and other environmental issues affecting Florida.

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