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We are in the midst of a drought in Central Florida which has sparked at least 50 fires in Osceola, Orange, Seminole, Brevard and Volusia Counties.   I know this is only an anecdotal tale but unlike the Louisiana fishermen, who do not believe the rising water levels on the coast are the result of ‘climate change’, I believe scientists have some accurate factual information.

A drought in Florida just does not seem possible. Isn’t this the state where rain happens every afternoon around 3:00? Isn’t this the state that once was mostly a swamp? Yes, Florida was mostly a swamp until human beings thought they could get wealthy ‘draining the swamp’ (I will let that phrase blow in the wind.)

In 1881 Hamilton Disston (a wealthy businessman from Pennsylvania)   began a project to drain the Everglades which changed the face of Florida forever. Disston’s land purchase and investments were directly responsible for creating or fostering the towns of Kissimmee, St. Cloud, Gulfport, Tarpon Springs, and indirectly aided the rapid growth of St. Petersburg, Florida.  The canal project didn’t drain the Everglades but Disston did manage to dry up the land around Kissimmee enough for another Entrepreneur to buy about 30,000 acres of land in Osceola and Orange County in the 1960s.

The Walt Disney Company (disguised as other corporations)

purchased the land on what is known today as Walt Disney World. When the land was purchased it was nothing more than a desolate swampland, scrub forests, and groves. In 2005 Lou Mongella wrote, “In order to transform this area into the number one vacation destination in the world, massive amounts of Earth had to be moved. Additionally, since much of central Florida is essentially “floating” on a body of water, a daunting challenge presented itself. Disney had to transform this land, while balancing the needs of the environment and ecology of the area. If any part of the water supply was damaged or deleted, it would have caused a massive ecological imbalance to the region.

The first thing Disney did was set aside a 7,500 acre Conservation Area in 1970, which would never be built on [An environmentally conscious business making billions of dollars-my goodness!]. This would preserve cypress trees as well as provide land for the area’s natural inhabitants. Second, they developed an engineering marvel by creating a system of more than 55 miles of canals and levees to control water levels. Disney Imagineer John Hench  (Seen here with Walt.) designed this network of canals to blend into the natural landscape, rather than being constructed in straight lines.    The mechanism that control the water levels are completely automated, and require no monitoring and little maintenance. Pretty impressive, considering the property is about twice the size of Manhattan!”

Disney could not control the growth of  hotels, restaurants, attractions and malls outside of the park that keep sprouting anywhere land can be found on which to build. Except for a few years in the depth of the recession the housing market has been gangbusters with vacation homes and permanent residences going up as quickly as land can be cleared. Two lane roads became four lane thoroughfares then six lanes and now eight lane jam-packed highways.

I don’t need a scientist to prove to me that humankind has an effect on our climate. I can see the effect we are having on the environment in Osceola County. This year we are already seven inches short of rain fall needed to support life. Our lake is proof enough for me that something is wrong. We are having a drought in Central Florida. 

If we do not receive enough rain I wonder what will happen to the turtles living in the lake.   (Here is one just outside the pool screen.) Where will our alligator go if our lake dries up?  (Yes, that is it in the left center of the photo-I’m not getting any closer!) What will happen to the Sand Cranes, Ibis, Blue Heron, ducks, Vireo and Osprey who need the lake to survive. What will happen to us, the humans, if we do not protect our environment? What will happen to Walt Disney World? 

See you next time.