Environment

Red Tide Found In Miami-Dade County

What’s News In This Story?


–State officials informed Miami-Dade County leaders late Wednesday that the bacteria that causes red tide has been discovered in the waters off Haulover Beach.

-As a result, Haulover and all other beaches north of the Haulover inlet have been closed until further notice. 

-Miami may get more bad news today: samples taken  from other beaches like South Beach and Crandon Park will be released later today

-Red tide can kill fish and other marine life and can be dangerous to humans. 

——Here’s Something Completely Different: ——

Meet The Three Frenchmen Who Are Taking Over Miami’s Culinary Scene

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Cover Photo Credit: osseous/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A Conservative Case For Fighting Big Sugar In Florida

A few weeks ago, I went to visit my grandfather at his home as he recovers from surgery.

While visiting, he showed me a newspaper article about Governor Rick Scott’s reluctance to address the sugar industry’s practice of dumping produce runoff into various bodies of water along Treasure Coast, notably the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

This runoff has, according to the Miami Herald produced a toxic, blue-green algae that has closed beaches, killed fish and oysters, and produced hazards for civilians who rely on the water for drinking and recreation.

To quote Brian Mast, a candidate for the Republican primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District who uploaded video footage of the green algae on his Facebook account:

“This is the water that we fish in. This is the water that our children play in, that we wade in. This is the water that touches our beaches. This is the water that we go boating in. This is our way of life here, and it’s literally…it’s being destroyed.”

That last sentence in Mast’s statement may perhaps be the most important of all, as there is more than one accurate context to state it in.

Of course, the locals’ way of life has been affected.

They can no longer be guaranteed access to safe drinking water, as Lake Okeechobee, the source of the runoff (its water is used to irrigate the sugar cane crops), provides drinking water to West Palm Beach, Fort Meyers, and the entire Lower East Coast metropolitan areas.

The Caloosahatchee River is also a source of drinking water for Fort Meyers.

With fish dying, it has become more difficult for fishermen to work their trade.

With the beaches closed, one of the defining features of the Treasure Coast will be altered.

However, another context must be taken into account when discussing how someone’s way of life could be changed: jobs.

On a local scale, businesses that either distribute water from the now-polluted sources or rely on fishing in order to function will be forced to either find an alternate source of water and fish or shut down, causing many people to lose their jobs.

This, in turn, will result in reduced tourism (which will already be facing reductions due to the closure of beaches) due the reduced number of businesses, which will only lead to further business closures and job losses.

A field used for growing sugar in Florida. Photo Credit: Josh Hallett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

A field used for growing sugar in Florida. Photo Credit: Josh Hallett/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

On a state, national, and international scale, large corporations that rely on the Treasure Coast for part of their business will be forced to increase prices due to reduced supply.

This, in turn, will result in reduced incentives to purchase their products by consumers, and perhaps further job losses.

The cycle continues from there.

In addition, for Florida in particular, reduced tourism will result in reduced outside investment, further hindering economic growth.

Think about that for a moment.

When you hear reports about pollution and the environment, you probably have a reflex to associate it with liberalism and the Democratic Party.

But that is not always true, and in this case, it’s not.

Conservatives and Republicans do indeed have a legitimate reason to consider this case a problem from an ideological standpoint.

Why?

Because private enterprise of all sizes, be it a one-person lemonade stand that relies on the water to make its lemonade to a multi-national fishing corporation, is being negatively affected.

If the conservatives of the Republican Party truly cared about their own platform, they ought to demand that Governor Scott take action in order to prevent the actions of one local industry from damaging other industries not just across the state, but across the country and perhaps across the world.

The Republican Party is supposedly the party of businesses, and perhaps it is time it acted like it.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Kathleen Conklin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Has Toxic Algae Made It To Miami?

Miami Shores residents are concerned that toxic blue-green algae that has brought ecological disaster to parts of Florida, has come to town.

According to NBC Miami, multiple residents of the quiet Miami suburb have expressed concerns that the algae has come to a canal in the area.

“In the late afternoon, there was some type of green algae that was floating on top of the water,” Miami Shores resident Michael Schock told NBC Miami. “Unlike anything I have seen before. I was concerned about the algae.”

Residents told the TV station that algae was seen floating everywhere in the canal over the weekend, but it had dissipated some by Monday.

According to NBC Miami, state officials will be coming out to the area to conduct tests on the water.

The toxic blue-green algae found in other parts of the state has been known to cause rashes and hay fever like symptoms in people that it has come in contact with, and nausea and vomiting in people who ingest it.

WATCH: NBC Miami report on algae found in Miami Shores canal 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Brian Goodwin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Algae Blooms Are Making People Sick In Parts Of Florida

Algae blooms that have been making people sick have spread to Martin and St. Lucie Counties in Florida, according to WPTV.

TCPalm reports that officials in both Martin and St. Lucie County have appealed to Florida Department of Environmental Regulation to test the water, determine what type of algae is in it, and see if it’s related to blue green algae linked to Lake Okeechobee’s freshwater discharges.

Tourism could be affected by the algae blooms.

Nerissa Okiye, who is the Marketing and Tourism Director for Martin County, told WPTV that she has been fielding questions from people who had placed trips to Martin County before the algae blooms began.

She told WPTV that “When they’re seeing this, it puts a hesitancy. Do I want to go there?”

The algae has been known to cause rashes and hay fever like symptoms in people that it has come in contact with, and nausea and vomiting in people who ingest it.

In the meantime, signs have been put up advising people not to approach the algae, and affected beaches have put up red flags as to advise swimmers.

Martin County Health Department spokesperson Renay Rouse told WPTV that “It is unusual…As a precaution we wanted to get the signage out there. The big message is if you see algae avoid contact with it.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Brian Goodwin/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Flint’s Mayor Is Mad As Hell Because Her City Is Dying

WASHINGTON — Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on Wednesday called Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s response to the crisis over lead-contaminated water in her city — including asking the Legislature for $28.5 million in immediate funding — “good first steps,” but not nearly enough to address the situation. Speaking at the U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Washington,… Read More

The Australian Government Still Doesn’t Seem To Care About Saving The Great Barrier Reef

By Adam Hushin

The Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia, is home to thousands of species of various sea life from sharks and whales to, of course, coral. Tourists flock to the reef to behold, with their own eyes, one of the seven natural wonders of the world, while they still can.

According to The Guardian, the reef has lost 50 percent of its coral due to a barrage of threats including “rising sea temperatures, increasing ocean acidification, swelling numbers of cyclones in recent years, pollution problems triggered by fertiliser and sewage run-offs from farms and cities, and damage caused by the development of ports on the east coast of Australia.”

The Australian government has done little to face the crisis and has only recently seemed interested in getting involved as the potential economic impacts have become so stark- the country earns £2.6 billon per year in tourism money associated with the reef according to The Guardian.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

The International community has made efforts to fight the ecological disaster however.

In June 2015, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Committee, met in Bonn, Germany to discuss the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

The committee ruled that the Australian government must report back to UNESCO in 18 months on it’s progress towards preserving the reef.

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Coral in the Great Barrier Reef, Eddy Reef off Mission Beach. Photo Credit: Paul Toogood/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

The Australian government has announced the “Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability plan” as their primary effort to accomplish the goal of protecting the reef.

However Greenpeace, the global environmental agency believes this plan is an overwhelming disappointment, and will not be the solution that the reef desperately needs.

“Until the plans for the massive coal mine and port expansion are dropped, it’s impossible to take Australia’s claims that they are protecting the Reef seriously,” the Greenpeace Political Advisor for Australia Pacific, Jess Panegyres said in a press release. “The government’s Reef 2050 Plan has loopholes so big you can drive coal-carrying ships through them. The plan has effectively carved out a space for massive coal mines and port expansion that will create a highway for coal ships straight through the Reef.”

One key concern that Greenpeace has is that the Reef 2050 plan still allows coal mine and port expansion.

This allows for something called ‘dredging’ to continue. Dredging means digging up the sea-bed to deepen channels for ships entering ports.

Dredging, runoff, and other polluting elements will now not only be allowed to continue, but will expand because of the Australian government’s choice to put their coal industry above the protection of the reef according to the thinking of Greenpeace activists.

Moreover, lack of action like in this case is killing the reef ecosystems according to the group.

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Greenpeace activists protest the coal industry in Australia in 2013. Photo Credit: FusionVision/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“We need to protect reefs from the individual and cumulative impacts of poor choices on the land, the sea, and in the atmosphere,” Louise Fraser, a spokesperson with Greenpeace Australia Pacific said. “We also need to ensure that politics and industry are not hindering reef protection, or the science that studies it.”

Greenpeace is campaigning for 100% renewable energy by 2050 and in Australia they are also campaigning against the expansion of the coal industry in Queensland.

Greenpeace isn’t the only one who recognizes the negatives in the government’s plan.

“The government wants to have coal mines operating in 60 years’ time, and still hopes to have a healthy reef,” Terry Hughes, Professor of Marine Biology at James Cook University wrote in a piece for The Conversation. “The science says otherwise: either we plan to adequately protect the reef and transition away from fossil fuels, or we abandon the reef and develop the world’s largest thermal coal mines. We can’t possibly do both.”

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

As awareness of this issue rises, so does the demand for the reef to be protected.

Overall, the stability of the Great Barrier Reef, as well as dozens of other endangered ecosystems around the globe, is a major problem that is not getting the attention that it critically needs.

This unfortunate fact begs the question, how long can we afford to ignore these problems?

If you would like more information on the Great Barrier Reef, or on efforts to help preserve it, go to www.takeanotherlook.gp, or www.greenpeace.org.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. Anyone can write for you us as long as you are fiercely interested in making the world a better place. 

Cover Photo Credit: gjhamley/ Flickr (CC By 2.0

How This Photographer Fights For The Environment With His Camera

Ever since he was a child, South Florida-based photographer Ben Hicks has been fascinated with the inner workings of nature. Growing up exploring the woods near his childhood home, the young Hicks learned to love being outside and observing the natural world around him.

Nowadays Hicks’ profession leads him all around the globe, channeling his passion for the environment into a career that’s spanned several continents. He’s well known for his work with waves and wildlife in particular, and readily admits over a phone interview that he has a deep affinity for aquatic landscapes.

“In general I really do enjoy going out in the water with my camera,” Hicks said. “I’ve gotten my start shooting professional surfers. I’ve traveled quite a bit around the world covering professional surfers mainly based in Florida and that’s really where I started to love shooting in the water.”

Hicks’ photography is very popular throughout South Florida, and many of his pictures feature the sunshine state’s signature wildlife as their subjects.

He acts as a brand ambassador for several different companies and his work is so well liked that numerous prints of it are often sold as phone cases and other merchandise online.

More important, however, is how Hicks utilizes his success to advocate and raise awareness for conservation causes that he’s passionate about. Sea turtles in particular are of an interest to him, with Hicks’ work often featuring them. Some of the species that he photographs throughout Florida are known for being especially vulnerable to human activity.

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“As far as my conservation work. It was really just natural because I was out there seeing the [trials] that they were having to face as far as environmental efforts being done to try to help sea turtles,” Hicks said. “And there’s just so many things that are really going against sea turtles as far as beach nourishment programs, pollution, and the lighting from condos and houses that trick the orientation of the hatchlings.”

Hicks first became interested in sea turtle conservation back in 2009. He describes accompanying a marine scientist friend on a daytrip to research the reptiles, claiming that this was the catalyst which helped set in motion his advocacy work for their preservation in the first place.

“I was amazed that I could use my photos to educate people and help save sea turtles and [aid] their ability to reproduce in our area. That fascinated me, and I was amazed that people could really listen just by looking at one of my photographs,” Hicks said.

The future of Florida’s sea turtles, much like the future of many of the state’s endangered species, is inherently dependent upon factors like public perception and education.

Hicks’ passion for sea turtle conservation is made evident through his extensive photography work as well as his collaborations with various environmental organizations.

Many of his most popular pictures even feature some of Florida’s more endangered species, most notably loggerheads and leatherbacks. He hopes that documenting the life and habitats of these animals will further raise awareness to the public about their struggle and spur people to aid in their preservation.

Over the last few decades Florida’s sea turtles have faced a myriad of environmental problems. Most of these issues can be attributed to humanity’s growing ecological footprint and the turtles’ ingestion of plastic bags, something Hicks himself is concerned with.

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“One of the main things with sea turtles is plastic bags, because plastic bags look like jellyfish. So [the turtles] eat the plastic bags and it goes in their stomach, and pretty much it’s a done deal once they eat one,” Hicks said. “So eliminating plastic bags is something that the U.S. is now really starting to grasp, not just for sea turtles but for many reasons.”

The future of Florida’s sea turtles, much like the future of many of the state’s endangered species, is inherently dependent upon factors like public perception and education.

Teaching people the ecological importance of these creatures and securing legislation to ensure their protection has been a difficult struggle for many activists, and even nowadays incidents still occur of turtles being harassed or threatened by locals.

When asked about any possible future projects, Hicks cited a children’s book he was planning on publishing in the next year or so, one that tells the story of sea turtle hatchlings entirely through photography. He also spoke of two upcoming exhibitions, one of them located in New York City and another in South Florida. Similar to Hicks’ other work, these endeavors will aim to emphasize the importance of wildlife conservation and environmental awareness.

“Nobody’s ever really told the story of hatchling sea turtles and how researchers are really making a strong effort to conserve their populations in the U.S. and the world with real photographs in a children’s book before,” Hicks said.

Photo Credits: Ben Hicks/ Facebook.

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