If Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have taught us anything, it's that climate change is here—and it's coming at a real cost to human lives and property. It's clear that continually evacuating millions of people from our coastal cities is not an effective or sustainable way to protect Americans from record-breaking storms.
Instead, we need to attack the root causes of climate change while also adapting to its impacts. American taxpayers, businesses, and communities simply cannot afford for our elected leaders to spend scarce public dollars and make critical planning decisions that deny the basic reality of climate change.
The scorching heatwaves and wildfires out west and the epic flooding from Harvey and Irma, are just the latest in a growing list of climate change driven, extreme weather events. We all bear some responsibility for these disasters.
Our reliance on fossil fuels helped to build the American economy, but continuing to burn these fuels—even as alternatives like renewable energy and electric vehicles come onto the market—is contributing to the severity of extreme weather. More directly, our lack of climate-change planning in the face of strong scientific evidence of the risks and probable impacts leaves our citizens and economies vulnerable. Indeed, natural disasters are only getting more costly, as they become more severe and claims with the National Flood Insurance Program increase.
Local leaders understand the challenge. Bucking the national political trend to ignore or deny climate science, Florida's elected officials are taking action. Republican Congressman Carlos Curbelo and several of his Florida colleagues put together the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus in the House of Representatives last year to create a forum for honest discussion about climate impacts across the country.
The Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact is a bipartisan group of county officials committed to science-based community planning. Miami's mayor said explicitly that now is the time to talk about climate change, and Florida leaders are criticizing Gov. Rick Scott for denying the reality of climate change.