SARASOTA, Fla. -- Temperatures plunged below 40 degrees F as the Sunshine State witnessed its first snow in nearly three decades. The cold snap is impacting marine animals too. Manatees are crowding together in canals trying to stay warm. About 100 sea turtles stunned by the cold have been rescued from Northwest Florida. Iguanas are freezing and falling from trees as deadly ‘bomb cyclone’ blasts the east coast.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation (FWC) Commission sent out a warning to watch out for sea turtles floating in the water or washing up on shore in distress, and for manatees looking for a warmer spot. Two fishermen worked to save a beached manatee Friday as temperatures on the Intracoastal Waterway in Ponte Vedra Beach dropped to near freezing. “It was just letting out groans and squeals,” Sparks said. “We went over to see if he was alive and he was basically not moving much at all.”
Sparks and Strout said they immediately called FWC wildlife officials, who told them trying to get it back in the water wouldn’t help because the water was so cold. “The temperature was dropping fast and it was getting ready to get dark,” Strout said. “I knew he wouldn’t survive the night on the bank.” Strout says he got out of the boat and into the 47-degree water to try to help the manatee. Florida wildlife officials say the manatees cannot survive in water colder than 68 degrees.
“That last groan we kind of heard, the strongest, loudest groan, and it went kind of silent,” Sparks said. FWC crews were not able to save the manatee.
Cheyanne Ruben with FWC says the best thing to do if you come across an animal in distress is to call the FWC hotline at 888-404-FWCC. “Best-case scenario, we get the call then we’re able to rescue that animal quickly, stabilize them and get them to a rehabilitation facility.”
Global warming is destabilizing earth’s meteorological weather patterns, which is leading to the increased frequency and intensity of all types of catastrophic weather extremes.
Korean scientists report that rising Arctic temperatures are changing the Jetstream. Temperature and weather data jet stream and global climate models show the warming north of western Russia creates colder winters in central Asia. Warming north of western Alaska creates colder winters in eastern and central North America.
"We're in uncharted territory. We don't have a roadmap for the weather patterns that will occur in these conditions, but it's safe to predict that 'unusual' will be a word that gets plenty of use."
Two graduate students at MIT coined the term for cyclones in the North Atlantic that were developing very rapidly. Oftentimes, we’d even say explosively. "These storms feed off the temperature gradient between the mild Gulf Stream and cold air over the land. Climate change could also periodically cause cold air to spill farther south, and when the two meet, there’s an increased risk for these extreme storms."
Direct fossil fuel subsidies by the federal government amount to about $10 billion annually in tax breaks and deductions, according to a conservative estimate by Taxpayers for Common Sense. Oil and gas companies deduct the bulk of a well's drilling costs in the year they are incurred, as opposed to writing off the capital expenditures over many years as other industries do. That costs taxpayers almost $1.5 billion, and "distorts markets by encouraging more investment in the oil and natural gas industry," according to the Treasury Department.
Direct subsidies don't include the hundreds of millions of dollars in lost tax revenues from leases and royalty rates. Or the billions we pay to clean up after fossil fuel extraction, or the damage to human health and the environment from climate change.
The International Monetary Fund estimates that governments worldwide pay more than $5.3 trillion annually to support the burning of fossil fuels. The United States is the second-most prolific fossil fuel subsidizer, behind China, according to the 2017 study.
"We're a century and a half into coal and oil. These are not fledgling industries," said Dan Bucks, former director of the Montana Department of Revenue and a consultant on tax and conservation issues. "We're subsidizing fuels with enormous environmental costs especially climate change, and it can't be justified when we know we can supply our energy needs by other means.
In 2016 fossil fuel companies laid out $354 million in campaign donations and lobbying, according to a report by the climate watchdog group, Oil Change International. The industry enjoyed $29.4 billion in direct and indirect federal and state subsidy paybacks, the group estimated.