Historic City News was informed that ranking member Bill Nelson called on the US Senate to act on the devastating impacts of sea level rise at a Senate hearing Tuesday morning, pointing to nuisance flooding and rising rides in St. Augustine as indicative of the effects of climate change threatening lives and property on Florida’s coasts.
Pointing to the struggles St. Augustine’s Public Works Department has faced with the prevalence of high tides overwhelming the local storm water system, Nelson emphasized the flooding as a phenomenon not limited to inclement weather, but sunny days as well – and called on the Senate to act swiftly.
“There are two pieces to a solution. One, we’re going to have to stop putting so many greenhouse gases into the atmosphere so fast. This part of the solution is called climate mitigation,” Nelson explained. “And two, we’re going to have to make our communities more resilient to the greenhouse gases and the warming that we’ve already got in the system. This is called climate change adaptation, and you don’t have to agree with climate science to know that it makes sense.”
Nelson introduced legislation earlier this year to facilitate the climate adaptation path many Florida localities are already undertaking to address the threats they face from sea level rise. The Coastal Communities Adaptation Act provides financial assistance to communities like St. Augustine working to become more resilient – and has garnered letters of support from the City of Sarasota and the American Planning Association.
“Twenty-one million people live in Florida, and 75% of the population of the state is along the coast,” Nelson said. “It’s needless to say that the effects of sea level rise are already having their effect… I’m committed to the safety of our coastal communities. Failure to act on this information is not an option.”