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Water Quality Report: Climate change, doom and gloom, and a reality check

The myriad effects of our global warming are starting to show all over the planet, and some climate change "doomers and gloomers" are convinced it's too late to do anything about it - but is it?
Tom Toro Yale Climate Correction
The myriad effects of our global warming are starting to show all over the planet, and some climate change "doomers and gloomers" are convinced it's too late to do anything about it - but is it?


Climate Change Gloom and Doom: A Reality Check

Part one of a two-part series

Climate change is expected to worsen saltwater intrusion in South Florida, poisoning our water drinking supply. As the oceans heat up they expand, pushing further inland beneath us, especially in places where deep wells for household use have emptied the aquifer.

Water temperatures in Florida Bay have topped 100 degrees as fish are swimming death circles in the shallows.

Corals, unable to handle the warming oceans, are bleaching white and dying.

Super-heated oceans are primed to fuel the upcoming hurricane season, which every major tropical prediction center is forecasting to be among the most active in modern history.

And so on.

Make no mistake: Climate change is a big deal.

Without major shifts in international policies on fossil fuel burning and a host of other abuses of our planet's natural resources it is almost certain that people will continue to die in bigger hurricanes, hotter heat, more frequent flooding, and due to a lack of potable water and ... you get my point. This is nothing you don't already know.

But now is the time for a reality check.

Doing anything to stem climate change's effects might feel like a hopeless endeavor (it's not). Those feeling gloomy and doomy over the entire issue wonder if the changes in the climate portend an inevitable extinction-level event for homo-sapiens. (Not true.)

Minds far greater than mine have already analyzed the upcoming effects of a warming planet and found that, yes, it will leave a significant mark on humanity but, no, it will not lead to our extinction.

Bill Gates is one well-known environmental activist who has acknowledged the significant threat of climate change but said it will not lead to human extinction. He compared the potential damage from climate change to the COVID-19 pandemic, emphasizing that climate change will cause widespread suffering over a longer period.

“If you think solving the problem of climate change will be easy, you’re wrong," he said. "If you think it will be impossible, you’re also wrong.”

Bill Gates
Bill Gates

Michael Mann is the director of the Center for Science, Sustainability & the Media at the University of Pennsylvania. A climate scientist, he emphasizes that although climate change poses significant risks, the notion of human extinction is implausible.

"The science doesn’t support the notion of runaway warming scenarios, although climate doomists often make such claims," he told Live Science. "There’s no reason to exaggerate the climate threat. The truth is bad enough, and reason enough to take dramatic action."​

Bjorn Lomborg, a well-known Danish environmental economist, is famous for accepting the reality of climate change and its human origins, but at the same time asserting that it remains a manageable challenge.

"Climate change is here, it’s real, and humans are largely responsible for it. However, it is survivable and manageable," Lomborg said in an interview with Peter Robinson of the Hoover Institution. "In other words, climate change is not the extinction-level event it is often characterized as."

These perspectives underscore the urgency of addressing climate change while providing a measured view that avoids apocalyptic predictions.

However, the number of people worldwide flummoxed about climate change's eventual effects cannot be counted, but their "climate gloom and doom" way of thinking must be bumming them out.

Changing that point of view can be done.


Yale Climate Connections, a news service staffed by professional journalists, meteorologists, and radio producers, exists to explain the realities of climate change.

Through articles, radio segments, and newsletters their staff shows that global warming's effects on everything from drought and crop destruction to water quality and quantity problems can be managed.

And so can the "climate doom and gloom mindset."

Read about Yale Climate Connection's tactics in part two of WGCU Water Quality Report next week.


The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission tested waters throughout Southwest Florida and found no trace of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, statewide.

No reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week.

Respiratory Irritation was not reported in Florida over the past week



Things are nowhere near as peachy with that other harmful algae bloom that we all know and do not like.

This week, the Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a new health advisory for blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River, while reporting that a previous bloom had dissipated.

The new finding of blue-green algae at Hancock Creek and the Seaside Key Court Canal north of the river.

That canal is just west of the Caloosahatchee River Bridge near Lochmoor Waterway Estates.

, a blue-green algae health alert in place for nearly two weeks was canceled upstream in the C43 Canal. However, the canal remains under caution status.

Blue-green algae can be dangerous. Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, or come into contact with water if you can see a bloom.

The best idea when you can see a visible bloom is to go somewhere else.

What is red tide?

Red tide is one type of harmful algal bloom caused by high concentrations of the toxic dinoflagellate K. brevis, which is a type of microscopic algae found in the Gulf of Mexico.

Red tide typically forms naturally offshore, commonly in late summer or early fall, and is carried into coastal waters by winds and currents. Once inshore, these opportunistic organisms can use nearshore nutrient sources to fuel their growth.

Blooms typically last into winter or spring, but in some cases, can endure for more than one year.

Is red tide harmful?

K. brevis produces potent neurotoxins that can be harmful to the health of both wildlife and people. Wind and wave action can break open K. brevis cells and release toxins into the air. This is why you should monitor conditions and stay away from beaches where red tide is in bloom.

People in coastal areas can experience varying degrees of eye, nose and throat irritation during a red tide bloom. Some individuals with chronic respiratory conditions like asthma or chronic lung disease might experience more severe symptoms.

Red tide toxins can also affect the central nervous system of fish and other marine life, which can lead to fish kills.

What causes red tide?
A red tide bloom develops naturally, but recent studies have discovered mankind's infusion of other nutrients into the mix can make the red tide last longer or get stronger. But biology (the organisms), chemistry (natural or man-made nutrients for growth) and physics (concentrating and transport mechanisms) interact to produce the algal bloom. No one factor causes the development of a red tide bloom.

What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are a group of organisms that can live in freshwater, saltwater or brackish water.

Large concentrations, called blooms, can change the water color to blue, green, brown, orange or red. Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of freshwater lakes and ponds. As algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell like something with a naturally unpleasant odor has now started to rot, too.

Is blue-green algae harmful?

It can be. Different blue-green algal bloom species can look different and have different impacts. However, regardless of species, many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins that can make you or your pets sick if swallowed or possibly cause skin and eye irritation.

 The FDEP advises staying out of water where algae is visibly present as specks or mats or where water is discolored. Pets or livestock should not come into contact with algal bloom-impacted water or with algal bloom material or fish on the shoreline. If they do, wash the animals right away.

 What causes blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae blooms occur when the algae that are typically present grow in numbers more than normal. Within a few days, a bloom can cause clear water to become cloudy.

Winds tend to push the floating blooms to the shore where they become more noticeable. Cyanobacterial blooms can form in warm, slow-moving waters that are rich in nutrients. Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or early fall.

 If any major type of water quality alert is issued, you can find the details here in WGCU’s Water Quality Report.

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