Miami: Climate Change Affects City the Most, Government Report Says

Image: Miami: Climate Change Affects City the Most, Government Report Says Storm clouds are seen over the skyline of Miami, Florida.

Friday, 09 May 2014 10:42 AM

By Nick Sanchez

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Amid flooding streets, Miami was named one of the cities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change by the National Climate Assessment released by the federal government on Tuesday.

According to The New York Times, the sunny-day floods in Miami Beach are not the result of rain but of rising sea levels.

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Commenting on the flooding in Broward County for USA Today, commissioner Kristin Jacobs said, "It's remarkable. We get calls from people asking: 'It didn't rain so why is my street underwater?' I have a photo of a man swimming — doing the backstroke — in his cul de sac."

Jacobs notes that a large percentage of her county is less than 5 feet above sea level, and that the decades-old drainage systems cannot keep up with the new flooding.

The commissioner was one of many who attended the White House's release ceremony for the new climate report, which named Miami, New Orleans, Tampa, Charleston, and Virginia Beach at risk for sea-level rise.

According to the report, sea levels have risen about 8 inches since 1870 and could rise between 1 and 4 feet over the next century.

"Sea level rise is our reality in Miami Beach," Mayor Philip Levine said. "We are past the point of debating the existence of climate change and are now focusing on adapting to current and future threats."

He said he supports a $400 million project to improve the city's drainage system.

The consensus of the scientists who contributed to the report, however, suggests mayors and local government representatives are likely powerless to stop the tide, as it is the sum of global fossil fuel emissions that is causing it.

The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that cutting fossil fuels has consistently been among the lowest priorities for Americans since the 2008 recession, according to a January poll.

Americans want jobs, and a majority support projects that would create them like the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration has delayed making a decision on until after the election.

Billionaire Tom Steyer has also pledged up to $100 million dollars for politicians who prioritize combating climate change, which has influenced the priorities of many Democrats ahead of the November mid-term elections.

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