“Once impacts become noticeable, they’re going to be upon you quickly,” said William V. Sweet, a scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Spring, Md., who is among the leaders in research on coastal inundation. “It’s not a hundred years off — it’s now.”
Local governments, under pressure from annoyed citizens, are beginning to act. Elections are being won on promises to invest money to protect against flooding. Miami Beach is leading the way, increasing local fees to finance a $400 million plan that includes raising streets, installing pumps and elevating sea walls.
In many of the worst-hit cities, mayors of both parties are sounding an alarm.The latter point is important. In the U.S. Congress, people have taken sides on global warming, with Republicans tending to deny its human causes, while Democrats decry the human impact but have too few votes to do much about it.
But the local leaders say they cannot tackle this problem alone. They are pleading with state and federal governments for guidance and help, including billions to pay for flood walls, pumps and road improvements that would buy them time.
Yet Congress has largely ignored these pleas, and has even tried to block plans by the military to head off future problems at the numerous bases imperiled by a rising sea. A Republican congressman from Colorado, Ken Buck, recently called one military proposal part of a “radical climate change agenda.”This just seems crazy. We have known for a long time that the Arctic glaciers are melting, and we can see all around us the increasing volatility in the weather. In the long-term we have to cut back on the greenhouse gases that are causing it (and, yes, that IS what is causing it--too many people using too many fossil fuels), but in the short run you don't have to know the cause to know that you have to do something to alleviate the danger and damage.