National Climate Assessment says Florida is battered by climate change and it will get much worse

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TECO CO2 emissions / climate change
TECO's Big Bend power plant spews carbon dioxide and other emissions. By Seán Kinane (Jan. 2010).

National Climate Assessment says Florida is battered now by climate change and it will get much worse without serious action.

Last week thirteen federal agencies released a National Climate Assessment spelling out serious economic risks unless the country does more to slow climate change.

Todd Sack is a doctor in Jacksonville and serves on the board of directors of Physicians for Social Responsibility. In a conference call Wednesday organized by the energy education organization ReThink Energy Florida, Sack warned of public health concerns in Florida getting much worse.

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Andrea Dutton is a geology professor at the University of Florida and an expert on climate change and sea-level rise. She says the sooner Floridians enact policies to rein in climate change, the less the economic costs will be and some of the most dangerous effects can be delayed.

“The economic losses from climate change could be hundreds of billions of dollars annually in some sectors. So the costs are huge. And the big message here is that the cost of inaction is far greater than the cost of action. I think a lot of people are worried about any upfront costs that there might be in order to combat this. But the way to oppose it is to say, well, it’s going to cost us a lot more if we don’t act on this.”

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Dutton says rising seas will be especially expensive if nothing is done. She says the report gives a 1 in 20 chance of Florida having $346 billion in real estate below sea-level by 2100.

“What this report – the Volume 2 – really asks the question: What are the specific costs and risks that we face from global warming? The nutshell summary of this is climate change is already having a profound effect on both the health and wealth of the American people. So it’s not just about what’s happening in the future. It also lays out the things that are already happening today. And that’s a big piece of the message. Americans are already paying for climate change because it’s making storms more damaging, it’s making heat waves more deadly, wildfires more common. The area burned during the wildfires had increased due to climate change. It can make allergies worse and some diseases … And future climate change will expect to further disrupt many of these systems as well. So, global warming is really part of the very fabric of our lives now.”

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Another scientist on the conference call was Ben Kirtman, from the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science.

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