This Is How South Florida Ends
Standing next to me, pulling strands of what looks like a moss-covered scarf out of the water, is Viviana Mazzei, an ecology PhD student at Florida International University. It’s a periphyton mat, she explains, a unique symbiosis of algae, bacteria, and other microorganisms that forms the base of the Everglades’ food chain. When the saltwater comes, it’s expected to die, with profound ecological consequences…
A quick drive inland reveals what subjugation of the Everglades has wrought: an ecosystem in shambles. Reduced to less than half of their former extent and receiving only a third of the freshwater that they used to, most of the remaining wetlands are far too dry. Populations of native birds, fish, and reptiles have declined precipitously; invasive species are rampant. Toxic algae blooms are now a summertime tradition. So-called “white zones”—vast expanses of dead vegetation—speckle America’s largest wetland like canker sores.
Still, all of the ecological problems triggered by development and artifical drainage pale in comparison to the existential threat now posed by too much carbon in the atmosphere: sea level rise.
In a year of horrible news, the destruction of the environment always feels the worst. Even if we handle the economic and political problems, it may be too late.
Ful article here.