July 23, 2012


Florida population doubling
every 20 years from
1900 (0.5 mil.) to 2000 (16 mil.) 
The contemporary “Everglades restoration” is really a misnomer. The Everglades can be restored as much as the prairies can with hundreds of thousands of buffalo roaming around. The truth is that the Everglades can never be restored – to its original state and behavior. A 100+ years passed by – and Florida population mushroomed. There has to be protection against devastating floods, there has to be agriculture – and/but there has to be a secured freshwater supply. Any ‘restoration’ could only be to a certain point. The question is – just where is that ‘feasible’ and ‘reasonable’ point ?
The lack of knowledge and understanding of the Everglades by our great- and grandfathers resulted in a dangerous damage to its unique function. That is being only very slowly corrected now as reflected in recent judicial decisions and schemes such as the CERP, new Water Quality Plan, CEPP and other efforts. Yes, after a century of benefiting enormously from the Everglades, we have to seriously and responsibly think of paying the piper.
Floridian waters, let alone the greater Everglades, are a deplorable mess, sparking a big controversy between the State (FDEP) and the US Clean Water Act (EPA).
To clean and regulate water that would flow to replenish the WCAs and the Everglades National Park requires building expensive reservoirs and phosphorus-removing STAs. Very sophisticated modeling work is showing us the way. Unfortunately, models do not show us just who will pay for what.
There is a long list of specific tasks to do all around the FL peninsula – as well as to argue about. The different jurisdictions and stakeholders involved make for a good gridlock. The judges involved are trying to cut through this proverbial ‘gordian knot’. There is a snail-paced progress (or glacial slowness as Judge Gold qualified the progress for cleaning the Everglades) with one postponement after another – the latest talks about year 2025.
In the meantime, we are reminded of the "POLLUTERS PAY" amendment, anchored in the FL Constitution dealing with pollution in the Everglades Agricultural Area, to shift water clean-up costs from the TAXPAYER to the POLLUTER.

In the meantime, also, the seas are rising. Could there be a hope for at least a modest and reasonably paced and financed ‘restoration’ ?

July 15, 2012


If any war, the USA should launch a war against turf wars of its own agencies: federal, state, county, city, local, districts - and countless other power-hungry agencies that viciously, underhandedly and treacherously keep fighting each other for more power – and money, of course. Here and there we hear horror stories about abominable mismanagement, waste and inefficiencies resulting from turf wars the agencies are waging on each other – even at the cost of lives of US soldiers who are in real harm’s way on the real battle lines, lately in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Not so deadly but almost as vicious are the turf wars of different government agencies responsible for our otherwise peaceful environment. Example ? Take the current prolonged skirmishes between the FDEP and the US-EPA, entered by the NGO snipers and Agri-Industrial lobby grenadiers, with the SFWMD and US-ACE just sitting ducks in the line of those heavy fire exchanges concerning the Numerical Nutrient Criteria for Florida waters.
Democracy is an awesome instrument. However, when the turf wars and lobby muscles take over, it is torn to shreds with bits and pieces of it only serving as wound dressing rags for the adversaries. Reflecting the political scene that we all love to watch – but fret when hit with shrapnels from it in the form of economic supercrises that impoverished 97% of us.
Asked to mediate, the superstrong judicial arm rips into the fray from all directions on behalf of any party. Under the circumstances, it costs us billions and we hardly get anywhere - -
Problems will perhaps be resolved - as the fire is eventually put out by the rising seas sneaking up behind our backs through the middle of the Everglades a hundred or so years from now. But who would care for such a ‘distant’ future ?
Only about 10 million people to evacuate then. Florida will become rather quiet, no turf left to fight for.

July 6, 2012


Picture the “activists” and you see speaches and media blitz, largely based on emotional appeals – with very little of, and largely populist, explanation of simplified problems, little facts with none or very select data. The days of effective emotional appeals are gone - says Nathaniel Reed.
But yes, ACTIVISM does have a role in a democratic system, in our collective decision-making process, in our governance. Activist thrusts are usually easy to understand and they are invariably as laud as possible to highlight their point.
Some point, sometimes even a wrong or so often unrealistic point.
In all this one can easily see how enormous government bureaucracy and turf wars, some of it and more often than not, reflecting influences of special interests often politically very powerful, spams a primitive but loud opposition drive – so called advocacy. Usually centered around all kinds of different NGOs representing (some) “people’s opinion”.
One extreme provokes another - not necessarily well founded extremes that could be respected.
The problem with advocacy often is lack of knowledge – the activists are rarely recruited from scientific backgrounds. They don’t read, let alone understand, scientific literature – yet claim science-based this and that. Unfortunately, it often boils down to parroting a couple of phrases that purport to reflect (some) science.
What is missing in knowledge, the advocacy movement replaces by emotions.
Read more, my friends, educate yourselves – and keenly understand what is behind the term “feasibility”. It means doing not only what is correct but also what is possible, what is practical, and what we can afford to pay for. The problem is that all of these are also slippery terms subject to interpretation. They also rely on trust – can we trust what the “government” is doing, what it is telling us ? And what the “science” is telling us ? Or is it all just manipulated beyond recognition ?
Be “reasonable” and think – but mainly, please, educate yourselves. Remember – read and study, comprehend and conclude with flexibility – and with a keen regard for FEASIBILITY of demands put forward.
Then go - and be active – armed with understanding what the role of periphyton is, for instance.
You can even run an ecological simulation model on your own. Or can you ?

July 3, 2012


click for QUIZ 
Click HERE for a fascinating QUIZ
and see just where you stand on 50 quick questions -

July 2, 2012


Recently, the largest and most informative scientific conference on wetlands concluded in Orlando (9th INTECOL). It was a joint meeting of International Society of Wetland Scientists (SWS) and GEER (Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration), the latter being the single most important meeting of scientists working on problems directly related to understanding and restoring the essential functions of Florida Everglades.
This largest wetlands conference in the world was attended by more than 2,000 leading scientists working in the field. This is where most relevant knowledge was being shared, this is where the most contemporary findings were being presented that eventually represent the basis for science-based (technical, political, financial) decision making concerning this essential and unique Florida ecosystem. Ecosystem which directly supports life of more than 7 million people in South Florida whose freshwater supply depends on the health of the Everglades.
A population which can either be deprived of water – or drowned in its floods. The point is that this was the most relevant, the most important meeting of leading minds who bring us the understanding of the behavior and function of our Everglades, the lifeblood of Florida.
Our information lifeline are the media – the TV, the radio, the internet and yes, the press. And can you imagine – there was hardly a peep about this event in the media !
No information shared or passed on, no points raised, no education conveyed, no nothing.
All this despite of a well publicized program of this huge conference, despite of available whole Book of Abstracts of all the scientific presentations, despite the speeches, the posters, the availability of leading brains in one location for a whole week.
It is beyond understanding, beyond any logical explanation -
Not a peep - media, where have you been ? Are you that much afraid of a little science – even when our lives depend on it ?
The score on this – Science 10, Media 0.
And yes, you can study the 9th INTECOL proceedings and specific results shared there - right HERE.