In an article originally published in Tampa Bay Times, Lee Thomas discusses the effects of climate change in Florida, and the need for state-level action.
sea level rise
Miami ranks as the most vulnerable city in the world to the risk of coastal flooding caused by sea level rise.
Despite Miami’s vulnerability to sea level rise, there is reason to be hopeful: Many of the city’s local leaders and community residents are emerging as innovators in local climate action.
As coastal communities across the United States continue to fall victim to drought, coastal flooding, and other impacts of extreme weather and climate change, leaders at the metropolitan and federal levels are beginning to take action. Yet, Congressional action is an essential but missing piece to comprehensively addressing climate change.
However, Florida's continuing sea-level rise vulnerability suggests Congress may shift its attention to climate impacts.
The White House recently unveiled a new Climate Data Initiative. The initiative creates an online hub of government data on climate impacts, providing a detailed look at how a warmer world may impact critical infrastructure like bridges, roads, and canals. The platform provides a key tool for helping those at the frontlines of climate change—local communities.
Miami-Dade County, Florida has more people living less than 4 feet above sea level than any U.S. state, except Louisiana.
This fact sheet provides information specific to Miami-Dade County, Florida including the local impacts of—and near future vulnerabilities to—sea-level rise and...
Take a look at four U.S. cities—Boulder, CO.; Salt Lake City, UT; Pinecrest, FL.; and Hoboken, NJ—and it's clear that they are at the frontlines of climate change. But take a closer look and you’ll see that they’re also at the forefront of local climate action.
While leaders in Washington, D.C. grapple with a potential national economic crisis, in Florida, mayors and citizens are taking action—on climate change and sea-level rise, that is. Florida Atlantic University (FAU) will host its second annual Sea Level Rise Summit this week, bringing together national and international experts to discuss the impacts of sea-level rise and storm surge on local and national economies.
“The time to act is now… We cannot afford to do nothing.”
This was the message of Mayor Will Sessoms from Virginia Beach, VA, delivered last Friday at a conference on "Adaptive Planning for Flooding and Coastal Change." Like so many cities along the Atlantic coast, Virginia Beach is at the frontlines of climate change, experiencing impacts like sea-level rise and recurrent coastal flooding. But as we learned at the event, the city and its surrounding communities are emerging as leaders in engaging in initiatives to address these issues.
“We are not as well prepared as we need to be to address the full scope of projected realities in the year 2100” Mayor Sessoms stated, “and we can, and must, make continued improvements.” His message was echoed by a group of bipartisan mayors and state delegates, city planners, legal experts, and university scientists. They stressed that while state and federal governments often struggle to move beyond the political debate of whether manmade climate change is happening, residents of the Tidewater area of Virginia are focused on developing a robust response to rising seas and recurrent coastal flooding.
Mayor Sessoms’ sentiments paralleled the earlier statements of Democratic Mayor Paul Fraim from Norfolk, VA that "[t]his is one of the greatest threats of our lifetime,” and “a threat that we can no longer afford to ignore."
"Think globally, act locally" is a slogan that aptly describes what I witnessed last week at the 4th Annual Southeast Florida Climate Leadership Summit. At the event, local government officials from four counties gathered to discuss how to mitigate and adapt to climate change’s impacts.
Yep, you heard that correctly – government officials in the United States—in a “purple” state, no less—came together in a bipartisan manner to address climate change mitigation and adaptation. In fact, mayors, members of Congress, county commissioners, and officials in charge of water issues in the state discussed how to move forward with action plans in response to sea-level rise – a climate change impact which is not theoretical, but happening now.
Putting Aside Partisanship for Action
Unlike Congress, these public officials aren't debating the facts of climate change and its impacts or whether we should act. They see current effects and understand that in the face of streets flooding more regularly, drinking water supplies threatened by salinization, and models showing that some neighborhoods could become uninhabitable, what political party you support is irrelevant. Climate change impacts like sea level rise don't discriminate between Democrats and Republicans.
This post was co-authored by Forbes Tompkins, an intern with WRI's Climate and Energy Program.
With much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast bracing themselves for Hurricane Sandy's landfall, it’s important to note the human toll this hurricane has already left in its wake. At least 39 lives were lost in Haiti and Cuba, and more than 3,000 buildings were damaged in eastern Cuba alone by the hurricane.
Many are predicting that this storm will bring significant damage to United States. If Sandy hits with full force, the Mid-Atlantic could face rainfall totals between 3 and 7 inches in Washington, D.C., historic flooding along the coasts, and widespread power outages resulting from wind gusts that could exceed 60 mph. The storm could exceed the impacts of Hurricane Irene, in August 2011, which brought record rainfall and cost nearly $10 billion in damage.
States along the eastern seaboard are preparing for the storm. Governor Christie ordered the evacuation of New Jersey’s barrier islands and closure of the state’s casinos by 4 p.m. Sunday. Governor Cuomo ordered New York City’s transit service to suspend bus, subway, and commuter rail service starting at 7 p.m. Sunday.