A fragile Florida landscape is recovering from decades of damage done by developers and agribusiness. Now, the Everglades National Park, bordering the Gulf of Mexico, is threatened by the rising seas expected from climate change.

A 30-year protection plan rebuilt populations of the Everglades wood stork. (© AP Images)

President Obama went to the Everglades on Earth Day 2015, promoting actions to protect landscapes and people from the consequences of climate change — rising oceans, extreme storms and droughts, just to start.

Critics of climate change responses argue that reducing use of carbon-based fuels will sacrifice jobs and economic productivity. In the midst of the Everglades, a subtropical wilderness teeming with wildlife, President Obama said that, on the contrary, natural spaces build economic opportunity.

“In 2014, almost 300 million visitors to our national parks spent almost $16 billion and supported 277,000 jobs,” Obama said. “So protecting our parks is a smart thing to do for our economy.”

The subtropical wilderness of the Everglades is unique in the world. (National Park Service)

The Obama administration is raising the urgency of action on climate change as top officials count the months to the U.N. Climate Conference in Paris at year’s end. Global negotiators will attempt to hammer out a binding deal on lowering the carbon emissions that cause climate change.

The United States has been on the path to that goal, guided by the Climate Action Plan introduced by President Obama in 2013. The plan directs the nation’s transition to a clean-energy economy and has already significantly lowered greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels.

Obama has made the response to climate change a critical issue for the remaining period of his presidential term. He’s ordered officials in every corner of government to plan for what’s to come.