Street flooding swamped a car near Gainsville. Alachua County Fire and Rescue, Facebook page.

FL - Opinion: Living with climate change in North Central Florida

When coastal communities start losing their battles with sea level rise, king tides and storm surges, one of the first signs of retreat will be the relocation of their water supplies even further inland to escape saltwater intrusion. An emerging motivation for Florida cities and counties is fear of losing their municipal bond credit ratings and tax bases.

The farther north you are in Florida, the sweeter the tea, the thicker the southern accent and the stronger the climate change denial. That’s changing. Places like Gainesville, Alachua County, St. Augustine and Jacksonville are recognizing climate change is happening and is getting worse.

In Gainesville and Alachua County, grassroots citizen groups representing youth, workers, seniors and religious organizations are leading the way for local climate action. The local NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Committee has brought these groups together with a call for community action and accountability.

The Gainesville City Commission recently declared a climate emergency. On Feb. 4, the Alachua County Commission will review new climate initiatives, including a citizens Climate Advisory Committee and Climate Action Plan.

Efforts to combat climate change will require strong mitigation and adaptation measures.

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