In this week’s episode, America Adapts host, Doug Parsons, talks with Dr. Evelyn Gaiser from Florida International University. We primarily cover two topics: what is the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program and Dr. Gaiser’s role in adaptation planning in South Florida. But that is just a sampling of all the topics we cover. We begin by learning the many hats Evelyn wears at FIU: She’s the Executive Director at FIU’s School of Environment, Arts and Society and she’s the Lead Principal Investigator at the Florida Coastal Everglades Long Term Ecological Research Program (which we’ll call the LTER). First, we learn how Evelyn started her work in ecology at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecological lab. Dr. Gaiser also takes us into the Everglades, learning what makes this expansive park unique and incredibly important to everyone living in south Florida. We talk about the amazing, rich biodiversity of the Everglades and Evelyn explains the park’s unique ecological functions. Evelyn then discusses the history and role of the LETRs, located throughout the United States, monitoring change in key ecosystems. We learn about the army of research scientists studying the Everglades through the LETR. We also learn how all this science generated at the LETR helps influence key policy decisions in the region and Evelyn’s role in making these connections for policymakers. Learn what it means to conduct research on sea level rise in the political minefield that is south Florida. The LETR’s help us understand that we can’t adapt to climate change unless we can accurately track changes in the environment. And we briefly discuss the best ways a tourist can experience the Florida Everglades!
We then dissect the complexities of dealing with natural resources in south Florida. As Miami continues to grow, there continues to be significant friction with water sharing between the city and the Everglades. Evelyn shares how the LTER informs the decision making process. I ask Evelyn: Will the Everglades will be a marine park within 100 years. You’ll have to listen in to hear her surprising answer! Learn about such concepts as “peat collapse” and ways to avoid it. Also hear how Dr. Gaiser spent her 2015 Earth Day with President Obama and hear firsthand, his inspiring support for the role science plays in sustaining the Everglades. Finally we discuss Dr. Gaiser’s role in adaptation planning in south Florida. Many of the local communities, especially Miami, are taking actions and relying on experts at FIU to provide guidance on how to plan for sea level rise. Dr. Gaiser describes how FIU has developed the “Sea Level Rise Solutions Center” to help local communities plan for these climate impacts. And Evelyn ends the podcast by giving her advice on how people can become involved and how the LTERs can be resources as society adapts to climate change. There’s a lot more, so please listen in to this fascinating conversation with Dr. Evelyn Gaiser!
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