Obama's Climate Leaders Praise South Florida for Taking Action on Rising Sea Levels

The National Climate Assessment findings released in May by the Obama administration found that South Florida is "exceptionally vulnerable to sea level rise."

South Florida, the assessment concluded, is sinking into the ocean.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that South Florida environmentalists, scientists, business owners, and public officials -- particularly from Broward, Miami-Dade, Monroe, and Palm Beach counties -- took the assessment seriously and wasted no time in trying to keep our part of the state from going way down below the ocean.

Obama's environmentalists addressed more than 650 people at the Southeast Florida Climate Leadership Summit held in Miami Beach on Wednesday.

John Holdren, Obama's chief environmental adviser, praised the efforts of local leaders on their taking the assessment seriously.

"What's going on... here is really a model for what we need to see going on around the country," he said, via the Miami Herald. "Not that South Florida is the only place, but it's really a great collaboration. We've made a lot of progress, but we have a lot more to do."

Acting chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality echoed Holdren's praise, saying, "You simply don't have time to endure the incredibly frustrating political debate that is consuming a lot of the oxygen in the city where we work," per the Sun Sentinel. "You all are seeing these impacts at your doorstep today, and like any responsible person in that instance, you're acting, and that action is noticed by us who are enduring the other side of that debate."

Some of the steps being taken by the White House include pledging $1 billion to Everglades restoration and asking the state to setting carbon emissions settings.

The Environmental Protection Agency recommended to have carbon dioxide emissions cut from the nation's power plants by 30 percent by 2030. In Florida, that would mean plants cutting their carbon emissions by 38 percent -- about a third of what we're creating now.

Florida's power plants produce 1,200 pounds of carbon pollution per megawatt hour of electricity. Under its 645-page plan, the state would need to bring that down to 740 pounds by 2030, according to the EPA.

The Southeast Florida Climate Leadership Summit is being held just as the seasonal high tides begin to roil in, flooding coastal spots like Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and parts of Hollywood. Inaction with these environmental recommendations would mean this kind of flooding year-round in the very near future, scientists have warned.

Still, as much action is taking place, it's still a complex issue to tackle.

Scientists attending the summit said that two to five feet of sea-level rise coming in the next several decades will be permanent unless something can be done. Doing something means funding and planning, which can complicate things.

"Every time you raise one issue, there's another one," Susanne Torriente, assistant city manager of Fort Lauderdale, told the South Florida Business Journal.

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