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Cost Of Climate Change Could Hammer Florida

Map showing how warmer waters contributed to the intensity of Hurricane Irma
Fourth National Climate Assessment
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

The latest in a series of was recently submitted to Congress. A group of Florida scientists delved into the report, and things aren't looking too good if you've got beachfront property.

The fourth National Climate Assessment says the cost of climate change could reach hundreds of billions of dollars every year because of more severe storms, heat waves and more algae blooms.

Andrea Dutton, an assistant professor of geology at the University of Florida, says South Florida is planning for two feet of sea level rise in the next forty years. But more powerful hurricanes and storms could mean that day will come sooner.

"We're going to get to two feet before 2060 because of these extreme events. And the frequency which we will reach two feet will increase until we're permanently at it," she said. "So I think it's misleading to look at the projections and think we won't reach two feet until 2060. We're going to reach it before then, with increasing frequency, until we're at it."

The report says that Florida will have a 1 in 20 chance of having more than $346 billion in property value below sea level by 2100.

The scientists say pressure has to be exerted on politicians to plan for rising sea levels and take steps to avoid the worst scenarios.

"This is about self-preservation. It's not about saving the planet," Dutton said. "It's about understanding how humans are going to continue to survive and adapt in a very rapidly changing climate."

Here's how the report begins:

Earth’s climate is now changing faster than at any point in the history of modern civilization, primarily as a result of human activities. The impacts of global are already being felt in the United States and are projected to intensify in the future—but the severity of future impacts will depend largely on actions taken to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the changes that will occur.


Click HEREto look at the projections for the Southeast.

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Steve Newborn is WUSF's assistant news director as well as a reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.