Climate change, air quality concerns for Jacksonville

Air quality advisory issued in Jacksonville Tuesday

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - White House officials announced Tuesday that climate change is real and that we're already feeling the effects. The report was released Tuesday and says if something isn't done right away, citizens could see more natural disasters in the future.

The news from the White House comes at an interesting time in Jacksonville. The city released an air quality advisory Tuesday afternoon and explained how Jacksonville's air quality is being impacted by rising ozone levels.

Air Quality Manager, Steve Pace, told Channel 4 on Tuesday Jacksonville's air quality may be compromised because of rising ozone levels. In other words, Pace said, it's going to be harder for some people to breathe while outside.

"Very elderly, very young. Who already have respiratory problems will be adverse to impact by the concentrations that exist now," said Pace.

City Officials said people without respiratory problems should be okay, but they're keeping a close eye on air quality over the next few days.

"We'll re-evaluate the situation tomorrow and if necessary, we'll issue another advisory. Or if we exceed the standard, we would issue an episode alert," said Pace.

According to the White House's report that was released Tuesday, if something isn't done about climate change, we could see more disasters like flooding and wildfires. Local climate change expert Tom Larson said Jacksonville would face its fair share of problems too.

"We in northeast Florida enjoy a little bit higher elevation than some other parts of the state," said Larson.

Larson has studied the impact of climate change for more than a decade. He told Channel 4 on Tuesday that northeast Florida's slightly higher elevation, could still see higher sea levels. Larson also pointed to erosion issues in Ponte Vedra Beach and said more of that could follow. Larson believes the erosion issues lately are just the tip of the iceberg.

"We also face the problems from storm water runoff," said Larson. "Water will be more prone to staying where we would rather have dry land and it will be more difficult to drain home sites and commercial locations."

The city's Environmental Quality Division maintains a dedicated website that includes the most up-to-date Air Quality Index information for the city.

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