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Professor encouraged $1B is being set aside to fight climate change: "That's going to do a lot in terms of helping"

Professor encouraged $1B is being set aside to fight climate change
Professor encouraged $1B is being set aside to fight climate change 02:30

MIAMI – Vice President Kamala Harris visited Florida International University on Monday, where she spoke about the impacts of climate change.

"Climate change had become a climate crisis," she said. "A threat has now become reality."

She discussed how the Biden administration is investing more than $1 billion through FEMA to fund climate resilience projects in 343 cities, towns, and counties across the country.

One of those cities is Miami.

She announced $50 million in funding for the Miami area to protect low-lying neighborhoods from sea-level rise and storm surge.

It was encouraging news to Professor Todd Crowl, the director of FIU's Institute of Environment.

"We have more infrastructure at risk in South Florida and the Greater Miami area than almost any other coastal city," he said.

From hurricanes, to flooding, to our valuable Everglades ecosystems, South Florida is an important area of focus.

"Sea level rises due to climate change, and saltwater starts pushing through the pores the city is built on, and if saltwater gets into our freshwater aquifer, we are toast," he said. "We leave South Florida because of a lack of drinking water way before the flooding occurs."

He said he believes we are at a tipping point now when it comes to the need for changes to help mitigate the effects of climate change, and said people and politicians are motivated.

"The 2020 fish kill in Biscayne Bay just galvanized the community," he said. "Everybody, even people who don't talk about climate change, who don't talk about ecosystems or ecology or anything like that, all of a sudden got it."

Crowl said their team at FIU has already helped target areas that $50 million should go toward, like the Little River and Biscayne Canal areas. That is because those homes tend to be older and rely on septic tanks, which can leak.

"If we target those neighborhoods, that's going to do a lot in terms of helping reduce the amount of nutrients and pollution going into Biscayne Bay," he said.

"We know we can do it," he continued. "Places like Coconut Grove and Coral Gables, which are much more affluent, have almost completely eliminated all the septic systems. Those people can afford $10,000 per household to get hooked up to the sewer system. Folks in Hialeah or Little Haiti, they can't afford $10,000 per house. So, these kinds of funds can help us update the infrastructure."

There has been work in motion. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis created the Biscayne Bay commission at the state level, pledging, with Miami-Dade County, $20 million toward the Bay.

At the beginning of this year, the Biden administration announced the investment more than a billion dollars for Everglades restoration.

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