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For Florida Professors, Climate Change Could Be Opportunity Or Bust

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- Not paying attention to climate change's effects in Florida may mean the state will pay for it dearly in the future, according to two Florida State University professors.

Professors Eric Chassignet and Associate Professor Vasu Misra, both from the Department of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science, are urging the community to pay more attention to the Sunshine State.

Why?  Because Florida's climate is one of its 'most important assets' and it could change faster than most think.

"Our state's climate is a major source of revenue, and climate change presents significant uncertainties that need to be taken into account when considering Florida's future," said Chassignet.

"If you look at a map of demography change, Florida lights up in the Western Hemisphere with a growing population largely due to its desirable climate. The exposure of this growing population to the state's fair share of extreme weather events and climate anomalies immediately raises its vulnerability," said Misra.

And they're not the only ones watching what is being done to prevent Climate Change's effects.

"The world insurance market is watching how Florida combats this threat and shapes its policies to protect its citizens," said Misra.

They're threats, they say, go beyond nature and seep into the health sector. For instance, public health threats that come from severe heat waves.

While there is growing awareness on the matter on a state-wide level, they say most of the public and private institutions have not yet truly responded to the issue of climate change.

"We see local organizations such as those in South Florida attempting to address the issues faced by their communities, such as sea level rise. But at a statewide level, there has been limited response and the severity is downplayed," said Chassignet.

Misra added, "Florida has a lot to lose if visionary policies are not made quickly enough to address a changing climate. "

Things of concern are sea level rise flooding, more severe storm events, droughts, heat waves and public health risks.

To them, they say this is an opportunity to exploit the state as a hub for renewable energy, effective policy building, and intelligent coastal developments making the state more even attractive and they've written a book about it called "Florida's Climate: Changes, Variations, & Impacts.'

The book published  by the Florida Climate Institute is meant to give us a closer look at Climate Change rather than thinking about it on a global scale.

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