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Climate change is impacting so much around us: heat, flooding, health, wildlife, housing, and more. WUSF, in collaboration with the Florida Climate Reporting Network, is bringing you stories on how climate change is affecting you.

On Climate Change, These Floridians Say 'We Have A Lot Of Work To Do'

Landscape photo of Russell Conn smiling surrounded by water and trees with an alligator lounging on a log behind him.
Courtesy: Russell Conn
"I got involved in politics because I could see the environment not being addressed- the climate emergency - nobody's doing anything about it," said Russell Conn.

Three Floridians offer their solutions to climate change: placing more responsibility on the government and polluting companies; purchasing more preservation lands, and creating a greener future for the next generation.

Earlier this year, WUSF asked how climate change is affecting your life. We’ve been amplifying voices from across the region in an occasional series. Today, we hear the opinions of three residents, all of whom are looking for climate solutions.

Russell Conn, 35, Seffner

I am recently elected the chair of the Democratic Environmental Caucus of Florida. Right now, the most important climate issue, I think, that Floridians are facing is the red tide and blue green algae. When you can't even go to the beach and enjoy a summer weekend, it's just atrocious. We need a government that is not afraid to act boldly to address the climate crisis.

There's a double-edged sword when you ask individuals to take complete responsibility for the climate crisis. There are things that individuals have the ability to do, like getting an EV (electric) vehicle, reducing their consumption, weatherizing their house.

Unfortunately, it takes solutions at a higher level than just the individual basis because government, TECO Energy, polluters are not doing their part. They're trying to shift the blame onto the individual and not take responsibility for their actions that have led it to get this far.

Landscape photo of Suzanne Lindsey smiling with sunglasses and a hat on an inflatable raft floating on a water body surrounded by greenery.
Suzanne Lindsey/Courtesy
"I think climate change reversal is dependent on environmental land acquisition to protect our air and our water. That is something I think that every county, city in our state should just have already just budgeted," said Suzanne Lindsey.

Suzanne Lindsey, 61, Winter Haven

I am what I call a retired, stay-at-home mom. I have personally experienced climate change probably through the warming of our planet. This past July, Polk County experienced some of the hottest temperatures we've ever had on record. And that directly impacts just the way you feel what's going on in our water, on our land, things growing, things living, unfortunately, in a negative way.

Our population growth in Polk County has caused a lot of unchecked development - building rooftops and pavement on top of the uplands and wetlands that actually are necessary to collect and store and filter our water that we drink, our clean water. You know, that's kind of a basic necessity that I think is being challenged, right now.

I consider overdevelopment, I consider that to be a climate change issue big time. I would like to hear more discussion, including purchasing of environmentally sensitive lands and climate change discussions because it's connected. And how do we do that in the state of Florida? How do we do that in my county?

Sarah Edwards, 45, Tampa

Sarah Edwards standing in a field, holding plants with gardening gloves and hat.
Sarah Edwards/Courtesy
"I have a lot of climate concerns that keep me up at night... My initial concern has come from worrying about what of the natural world and a livable climate is going to be kind of left for my children and their children. We know that if we carry on on this course that we're on, it's not sustainable. We need to make some really big changes and very quickly," said Sarah Edwards, who volunteers with multiple advocacy organizations.

I am a public health trained person by background. I used to work at CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and Department of Health in the United Kingdom. I hope the future holds a cleaner, greener planet for my kids. I don't want them to suffer excessively from an unlivable climate problems with water sources and cleanliness, (and) soils that are decimated by pesticides.

We have a choice, and this is actually really critical time in our country right now because Congress has an opportunity to do some really big things, through the infrastructure bill and through the reconciliation budget, to really make lasting change in our country. And I really hope they take the opportunity.

I think it's important for all of us to reach out to our legislators and our decision makers and tell them, "Hey, we want a green, clean future for our children and our grandchildren." I want my kids to be able to go to the beach without red tide and all these other problems that we're having right now. I want my kids to be able to be productive and healthy. I think it's what all parents want for their kids. I don't necessarily think that everything we do is going to solve it overnight.

This is a really long-term game. We have a lot of work to do, so let's roll our sleeves up and get it done.

This montage was produced by WUSF's Jessica Meszaros.

You can share your climate change story with us by filling out the Google form below:

My main role for WUSF is to report on climate change and the environment, while taking part in NPR’s High-Impact Climate Change Team. I’m also a participant of the Florida Climate Change Reporting Network.