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Title image: Rep. Carlos Curbelo. Image courtesy USF/SM




Climate Warming and the Triple Threat of Water


The 2023 Annual Florida Climate Conference was the third in developing series of conferences investigating the world’s changing climate and its worldwide impacts, with an emphasis on Florida.

The overall theme of this year’s conference was the “triple threat” of water — threats ranging from inland flooding, rising sea levels, and storm surge coastal flooding to the opposite extreme of water deficits and droughts. 

Water extremes, from drought to flood, are an underappreciated threat to lives, property and the global economy. 

Floods, for example, regularly cause devastating damage, with losses running into multiple billions. According to leading reinsurer Munich Re, in 2021 alone. flooding accounted for $90 billion in losses. The catastrophic flooding in Central Europe in July 2021 was the costliest natural catastrophe in modern European history and, with estimated overall losses of $54 billion, set a new record as the world’s costliest flood.

This year’s Florida Climate Conference closely followed Hurricane Ian and its devastating impact on Florida, which included extensive damage from both storm surge flooding and inland flooding. The conference was held February 9th, 2023, in the Selby Auditorium of the University of South Florida’s Sarasota-Manatee campus.

The conference was a sellout, with hundreds attending in person or watching the conference livestream. Thanks to our conference host, the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee campus, the entire conference was captured on video, so if you were unable to attend, the conference can be viewed on the CAC YouTube channel.

The day-long conference is viewable in 16 standalone parts.

Part 1: Framing the Conference

David Kotok, Chairman of Cumberland Advisors, set the stage for the 2023 Florida Climate Forecast Conference with a personal tale of his exposure to climate change.

Part 2: Climate Has Always Changed. The Lessons Are Clear

Dr. Kenneth Lacovara delivers a fascinating talk using the fossil record to shed light on the changes in the earth’s climate over millions of years, and the calamitous events that wiped out the dinosaurs and helped shape the modern world. 

Dr. Lacovara is a geologist and paleontologist, and the founding Dean of the School of Earth & Environment at Rowan University and Director of the Jean & Ric Edelman Fossil Park.

Part 3: Threat 1 – Climate Warming and Rising Sea Levels

Bob Bunting, CEO of The Climate Adaptation Center, opens the discussion of the conference theme: The Triple Threat of Water and the Emergence of the Climate Economy. In this video he discusses the first threat: “The Unprecedented Rate of Climate Warming and Rising Sea Levels – A Long Road Ahead.”

Part 4: Climate Warming and Storm Surges – Hurricane Ian

Bob Bunting, CEO of The Climate Adaptation Center, discusses the second of three water-related threats to Florida: “Storm Surges in a Climate Warmed Florida Won’t Be Unique – The Example of Hurricane Ian.” Hurricane Ian, one of our warming climate’s new breed of slow moving, rapidly intensifying storms, devastated parts of the Gulf coast with high winds and storm surge flooding.

Part 5: Extreme Rainfall and Inland Flooding.

Dr. Stuart Waterman, CTO of The Climate Adaptation Center, discusses the third water-related threat of a warmer climate – Extreme Rainfall and Inland Flooding. Extremes of rainfall can take the form of either intense precipitation and inland flooding or a persistent near-total lack of rain and drought. 

Part 6: A Personal Story of Hurricane Ian

Elizabeth Moore, philanthropist and founding member of the CAC Board of Directors, discusses the impacts of Hurricane Ian on Triangle Ranch and the process of recovery.

Part 7: CAC Recommendations for Adaptation and Mitigation

Bob Bunting, Climate Adaptation Center CEO, discusses what individuals and communities can do to mitigate and adapt to the water-related threats of climate warming

Part 8: Threat Creates Opportunity – the new IRA

Marco La Manno, Anchor and Meteorologist for SNN News, and CAC CEO Bob Bunting lead a discussion of how climate warming threats create opportunities, and the role of the Inflation Reduction Act

Part 9: Keynote address – Threats, Opportunities & Action

Carlos Curbelo, former Representative for Florida’s 26th Congressional District and Principal, Vocero LLC, discusses “Threats, Opportunities and Action – What Government Can Do” and how Miami is leading the way.

Part 10: Keynote Discussion

CAC CEO Bob Bunting joins Carlos Curbelo for an open discussion of the government’s role in climate warming adaptation and mitigation, with an audience Q&A.

Part 11: Insights on Insurance & Innovation

Guillermo Franco, Managing Director of Catastrophic Risk Research for Guy Carpenter Reinsurance, provides eye-opening insights into the impacts of climate warming on the global insurance industry, and innovative solutions to regional and local insurance needs

Part 12: Opportunities in Meeting the Climate Threat

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist, Yahoo News, moderates a group discussion titled “U.S. Economic Opportunities Beckon: A 30,000 foot View of Meeting the Climate Threat.” Panelists include Matt McAleer, EVP & Director of Equity Strategies, Cumberland Advisors; Jim Roemer, President, Best Weather, Inc.; and Patricia Healy, Senior VP of Research and Portfolio Manager, Cumberland Advisors.

Part 13: Academia’s Role – Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Suzanne Atwell, host of the Suzanne Atwell Show and former mayor of Sarasota, moderates a discussion titled “Academia Can Stimulate the Climate Economy: The Role of Entrepreneurship and Innovation as a Launchpad. Panelists include George Philippidis, Associate Dean, Patel College of Global Sustainability, University of South Florida; Greg Smogard, Assistant VP of Innovation and Business Development, University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Campus; and Bob Bunting, CEO Climate Adaptation Center

Part 14: The Private Sector – Building the Climate Economy

Rick Newman, Senior Columnist, Yahoo News, moderates this  panel discussion of the growing Climate Economy. Panelists include: Al Browder, VP Olsen Engineering; John Mousseau, CEO Cumberland Advisors; Brandon Johnson, Senior Project Manager, Stantec; and Bill Johnson, President, Brilliant Harvest LLC

Part 15: The Role of Informed Philanthropy

Susan Burns, former Editor in Chief, Sarasota Magazine, leads a panel discussion titled “The Role of Philanthropy in Transforming Threat into Opportunity – Informed Philanthropy.” Panelists include: Matt Sauer, Collaboration and Impact Officer, Barancik Foundation; Jon Thaxton, Senior Vice President for Community Leadership, Gulf Coast Community Foundation; and Elizabeth Moore, Philanthropist.

Part 16: Working Together – It’s Happening!

Bob Bunting, CEO of The Climate Adaptation Center, leads the 2023 Conference closing discussion with examples of how we can work together to adapt to the changing climate and to mitigate its future impacts.


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