Florida meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin sounded the climate change alarm bell during a local telecast, telling viewers he fears we “have reached a point we cannot return from.”
“This is the first time that I’ve been overly concerned that we have reached a point we cannot return from,” MacLaughlin said in a recent weather report for NBC6 South Florida. The five-time Emmy-winning reporter also posted the clip on Twitter Saturday, warning that his attempt to stay optimistic has been overpowered by the alarming impact of climate change on local ecosystems.
“In 25 years of broadcasting, I’ve never uttered these words on TV before,” MacLaughlin wrote on Twitter. “I try to stay positive. I report on not just the problem, but the solution. I try to not be alarmist. But with corals, sirens should be blaring.”
In the clip, MacLaughlin explains that recent South Florida ocean temperatures reaching 101 degrees are “hotter than any number we saw in the entire planet for the ocean.” This elevated temperature, MacLaughlin says in the clip, leads to a myriad of climate change-related issues, including high amounts of rain, the air quality in northern parts of the country, hurricanes and “sunny day flooding,” among others.
“It all comes from the ocean,” MacLaughlin continued. “Because 90% of global warming is stored in the ocean and 25% of sea life lives in and around reefs.”
MacLaughlin went on to highlight the benefits coral — known as the “rainforest of the sea” — has on the ocean ecosystem, including protection, food and shelter for marine life and protection of coastlines from currents, waves, storm events and storm surges.
“When a hurricane is approaching, the storm surge actually gets tamped down a little bit,” MacLaughlin said, adding that coral reefs also positively influence education and research and tourism and recreation.
“Reefs can only take another 1.5-degree rise, and the ocean is forecast to rise another 1.5 degrees in the next decade,” the reporter continued, noting that the 87-degree average is “way above” the ideal temperate of 84 degrees.
Like much of the United States, south Florida has been facing extreme heat in recent weeks.