On Earth Day, Obama Will Tour Florida Everglades

Wednesday marks Earth Day, a time for humans to reflect on how to better the environment and pledge to do so. Instead of commemorating the holiday with the standard newly planted tree, President Obama will visit the Everglades, Florida's massive swamp and marshlands threatened by rising sea levels. It will be his first visit to the Florida Everglades, but for President Obama, the message will be one he has tirelessly delivered during his presidency.

With an audience of alligators and egrets (and maybe a reporter or two), the president is expected to further highlight the dangers of climate change — his latest talking point and sure-to-be 2016 campaign topic among Democrats and Republican presidential candidates alike. At the Everglades, Obama will likely link climate-change theory to our everyday life by showing how it could endanger our ecosystem. It's a grand gesture, particularly considering how two 2016 GOP presidential candidates (Sen. Marco Rubio, who's already announced, and expected candidate Jeb Bush) hail from the Sunshine State.

Obama has already given a sort of preamble to his Earth Day speech in last week's weekly video address, published on Saturday. "The fact that the climate is changing has very serious implications for the way we live now," the president said. "Stronger storms. Deeper droughts. Longer wildfire seasons."

The president also explained why he would be making the trip to Florida's iconic marshland:

On Earth Day, I’m going to visit the Florida Everglades to talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy. The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country. But it’s also one of the most fragile. Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure – and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry – at risk.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It looks like Obama will be in good company on Wednesday. Bill Nye — yes, that Science Guy — tweeted this week that he'll be joining the president on Air Force One for the trip to the Everglades.

According to the National Park Service, which operates the Everglades, the marshy southern Florida region is already feeling the effects of climate change, notably in rising sea levels. In a recently published report, the NPS said the wildlife of the Everglades, including the Florida Panther and Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, will be in danger.

"[T]he workings of a changing climate have the potential to significantly alter the assemblage of animals that call this area home," the NPS said. "Global projections suggest south Florida wildlife will need to contend with higher temperatures, drier conditions, and rising seas in the years ahead."

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