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USF forum: Collaboration required to prepare for climate change

MANATEE COUNTY — Although research and planning about climate change is occurring globally, speakers at a University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee conference on Friday (Jan. 25) said that work is not being adequately coordinated.

“Nobody’s put the picture together so people get it,” Bob Bunting, an atmospheric scientist who resides on Longboat Key, said.

Bunting told the near-capacity crowd of 150 not to expect politicians to take the lead. “Public opinion drives government — not the other way.”

“Our task is not to sit around and moan,” said Robert Corell, a climate scientist and principal with the Global Environment Technology Foundation.

Corell said society needs “to know, to assess, to plan, to act.” The impact on what he called the four E’s — energy, environment, economics and education — must be addressed.

Bunting believes global warming can be mitigated, perhaps in ways that have yet to be discovered. Yet researchers and others must stop working in “silos” and craft “an integrated solution.”

Floridians should be especially concerned, Bunting said. The state is the world’s 17th largest economy. If it is to protect that economy, it needs to start preparing for more intense tidal flooding and storm surge. “It would seem we should be leading the world in climate change discussions — but we are not.”