by Ben Bovarnick
This week, while the Republican National Convention gave the floor to climate change deniers such as North Carolina State Rep. David Rouzer — author of the recently passed bill legislating against accelerated sea level increases off the North Carolina coast — Louisiana residents were battling a 12-foot storm surge swept in by Hurricane Isaac, which topped over levees and induced heavy flooding in some parishes.
Unfortunately, with a platform of continued fossil fuel addiction and increased carbon emissions, Republicans are inviting similar future risks to their convention’s host state of Florida, and low lying coastal areas in general.
Climate change is expected to increase sea levels by more than three feet over the coming century, while strengthening hurricanes and storm surges, thereby placing residents in low lying areas at greater risk from flooding. This is particularly pertinent to Florida, which has 2.4 million people and 1.3 million homes at risk from a four foot rise in sea levels.
For Florida’s southern counties, this trend is particularly troubling. The majority of residents in danger of flooding live in these low lying areas built on porous limestone, which renders levees like those in Louisiana ineffective.
Further accentuating denial of these dangers, House Republicans held disaster relief funding hostage repeatedly in 2011 and the Ryan Budget would force lawmakers to offset disaster relief though budget cuts. Requiring the $60 billion in budget cuts for relief necessary to respond to Hurricane Katrina would have been a disaster unto itself.
A report published by NOAA predicts that “anthropogenic warming over the next century will lead to an increase in the numbers of very intense hurricanes in some basins,” that these hurricanes will “be more intense on average,” and that “anthropogenic warming by the end of the 21st century will likely cause hurricanes to have substantially higher rainfall rates.” These trends will all contribute to greater risks of coastal flooding and property damage.
In spite of this, Republicans continue to call for an “oil above all” strategy, under the guise of job creation and suppressing gas prices, while ignoring both the plan’s unrealistic nature and the consequences of these actions.
Rather than helping Americans “leave the same legacy to their children,” as Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) proclaimed during his speech Tuesday, this plan would leave a legacy of costly flood protection for Florida’s low-lying cities and inhabitants.