Research Paper: Environmental Issue in Florida

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Environmental Issue in Florida

Florida, the sunshine state, and vacation destination for millions of tourists, from around the world. It is paradise, as many will call Florida, and it is a great place to live during the winter month. During the time between November and May millions of people coming to Florida every year, just to go away from the cold north. What is it what attracts those people to come every year to Florida, and what is it what attracts tourists to come and visit? For the most part those people come to enjoy the weather, the beaches, and the attraction offered in the state. A tour around Florida will range from Kennedy Space Center to Silver Springs, from Orlando and its theme parks to Tampa and its theme parks, down to the everglades and all the way to Key West. Other folks are living in Florida for up to six-month out of the year. What does this has to do with environmental issues? Let's take a closer look at the infrastructure needed in Florida to accommodate all this.

Since many years Florida has been a place for retirees to move down and to live the rest of their life's in Florida. Housing at times was inexpensive and most of the people wanted a nice place for their retirement. Places on golf courses, canals with access to the Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, or directly on the water, whether the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico, were the most desired place to live in. A problem with these places is that over time they become rare and therefore expensive. To allow people to move into the state and being a part of paradise, the Department of Urban Development and developers discovered that there is a wide range of empty land which can be used to build nice houses. And here the first step to one of the issues started.

While development has moved from the coastal areas toward inland, in central and south Florida it was clear that at any giving time there will be changes required to allow encroaching on the Everglades. Once certified as a Wildlife Sanctuary, the Everglades became a developer's dream-come-true. Hundreds of thousands of acres were now available to build homes for people. Why is that so bad? Because the areas used for the expansion to build homes are the Everglades, the largest wetland refugee in the lower 48 states, and one of the three most important ecologic systems in the world.

As people enjoyed their new properties and the peaceful and quiet environment they have paid so much of their life savings for, other problems surfaced and threatened the ecological balance. Let us take a look at this issue in more detail. When developing housing areas to a certain size, commercial areas need to be close. For example, if a developer builds 500 homes in a rural area, the need for a grocery store, gas stations, doctor offices, transportation, hospital access, and schools, etc. need to be considered. Now let's take a closer look at the Everglades to see why it would be so bad to encroach into this area.

With over two million acres of wetland the Everglades are a significant ecosystem in Florida and stretch from Orlando to South Florida. In the middle lies the Lake Okeechobee which is South Florida's main water reserve. The Everglades are also home to a very diverse wildlife and many plants (NAI). Some of it is not indigenous to Florida and creates threats to the ecosystem. Over the last century the Everglades have shrunk to less than half their original size as agricultural and residential development in the region have expanded. The process has been accelerated by the growth of the sugar industry and tremendous development of Florida's east coast. Water is diverted from and to the Everglades as the needs of these adjacent residential and agricultural uses dictate. Accordingly, the ecological balance of the area has been thrown off, resulting in habitat and biodiversity loss (Natural Resources Defense Council).

Let's start with some positive aspects on developing houses in Florida. It is a fact that construction will create jobs in the state of Florida. Also by creating an infrastructure for these areas new jobs are created synchronously. In other words, building the five hundred homes we talk about earlier, it will also create jobs for the local community. This in fact has the advantage that the area will enjoy the increase in sales-tax revenue and also a brighter future for everyone who is living in that area. It can be forecasted that if development in a certain area reaches a certain point, many amenities, such as theater, movie theaters, concert halls, and more will be build and used. These common elements will increase the value of the properties and encourage more and more people to move to that area. This can be seen in the South Florida area in counties such as Broward, Miami-Dade, and West Palm-Beach.

Now let's check on the opposite of developing into the Everglades. As imagined before, the everglades are the water supply for South Florida. Water runs from Orlando into the Lake Okeechobee and from there slowly into Florida Bay, the most southern tip of the Florida mainland. Development in an area like the Everglades requires re-routing some or many of the smaller rivers which make up the Everglades. This re-routing will dry out several areas and affect the local vegetation, and wildlife. A main issue in drying out the wetlands is the danger of brush fires which occur every year. Also the extinction of several botanic species will lead to more devastation of this area. With the vegetation gone the other wild life will migrate away from this area or is threatened by extinction (Natural Resources Defense Council).

Still more habitat destruction in the Everglades is being caused by invasions of exotic plants, such as Australian melaleuca, which deplete the region's water resources and squeeze out the native species on which the rest of the ecosystem depends (Natural Resources Defense Council). The cause for many species in the Florida everglades to be on the endangered species list is mainly caused by its inhabitants, the lack of natural predators, and the human created imbalance of the environment due to introducing of none indigenous plants and other wildlife. While some of its flora and fauna are widely recognized, the Everglades are also comprised of many hundreds, of lesser-known plants, animals and fish that are part of a living, dynamic ecosystem (Robbins).

Since home development is not the only threat to the Everglades, we need to look at the Sugar and Citrus farmers also. Again, here we find a variety of income related opportunities for Florida residence, yet it has also a main holdback to it. While employment is important to a state like Florida, the negative outcomes need to be also considered. The income through tax revenue for the community is significant and allows for many new projects to be created and finished. New playgrounds for children, new traffic lights, new technology for Law Enforcement, and much more can be associated to an increase of employment, and better productivity by these farmers, or corporations.

On the other hand the destruction of the wetlands will have a significant impact on all the inhabitants, which will include humans. Polluted runoff from sugar farms and other agricultural operations, such as citrus growers, as well as encroaching urban sprawl significantly alters the Everglades' complex and unique water chemistry. Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus added by human activities cause profound imbalances in the Everglades water chemistry, disrupting native plant communities and altering wildlife habitat (NAI).

A serious problem with the wildlife in the everglades, which is related to development and popularization of… [END OF PREVIEW]

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