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Resiliency Compact can’t wait

By Staff | Jan 14, 2021

To the editor:

The clock is ticking, literally. In cities around the world, such as New York, Berlin and Paris, giant clocks are reminding us the number of years we have left before climate change stops being a challenge and becomes a sentence, a death sentence.

Over the years I’ve kept a copy of a 2004 National Geographic with the cover of a burning forest that reads “Global Warming, Bulletins from a Warmer World.” I am sure the magazine started reporting on the issue way before then. Other issues had followed with similar headlines, such as “The Big Thaw, Ice on the Run, Seas on the Rise” (2007) and “Cool It. The Climate Issue” (2015).

As a species, we seem to be wired in a way that tends to react only when faced with imminent danger, such as a Category 5 hurricane, for instance. Otherwise, we wait. And wait.

Lee County and, more specifically, Cape Coral, will soon decide whether or not we are ready to roll up our sleeves and focus on the common challenge to protect our public health, local economy, properties, natural environments and our very own lives.

“The Southwest Florida Regional Resiliency Compact is an agreement between its members, county and municipal governments in Southwest Florida, to collaboratively identify, prepare for, adapt to, and mitigate climate change impacts,” as explained by Audubon Florida.

In July 2020, Charlotte County Commissioners voted unanimously to be the first members of the Southwest Regional Resiliency Compact. As of today, several communities in Southwest Florida had followed Charlotte’s decision, such as Captiva, Everglades City, Marco Island, Naples, Punta Gorda, Sanibel and Village of Estero. Are Lee County and Cape Coral going to join the efforts?

Other counties and cities around Florida have already been working together to face the challenges posed by climate change. That is the case of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact. Created in 2010 and integrated by Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe and Palm Beach counties, this compact works “collaboratively to reduce regional greenhouse gas emissions, implement adaptation strategies, and build climate resilience,” according to their website.

The benefits? Multiple, but perhaps the most important lies in the possibility to apply as a region for federal funding and grants, to allocate necessary resources to address climate solutions, and to be ready when state and federal legislation assesses the particular needs of Southwest Florida.

Urge our city council members and county commissioners to join the Southwest Regional Resiliency Compact. We must be prepared for the challenges we are already facing, such as harmful algae blooms and more intense hurricanes. The clock is ticking.

Alessia Leathers

Cape Coral