Senate subcommittee discusses sea-level rise

Nelson calls counterparts who don't believe in climate change 'doubters'


MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – On Earth Day, a rare Senate subcommittee field hearing about climate change, chaired by U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., was held at Miami Beach City Hall.

Tuesday's hearing was titled "Leading the Way: Adapting to South Florida's Changing Coastline." This was presented by the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation's Subcommittee on Science and Space.

The name may have been a mouthful, but the message was important.

Panelists of elected leaders, researchers and the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau testified for the record about what many are already living with -- inland and coastal flooding related to sea-level rise, beach erosion and saltwater intrusion.

The seas have risen 8-9 inches over the last 50 years, but they are expected to rise even faster moving forward. A range of 2-6 feet of sea-level rise is projected by 2100.

Testimony covered discussions on why the earth is getting warmer, what is being done right now to adapt, future solutions, adaptation ideas and the possible impact to insurance rates. Essentially, it's about starting the conversation now to get ready for the future.

Some of the plans may require federal funding, but getting this local issue to translate on the national stage may be tricky, Nelson said, given that the cause of climate change and proposals on how to deal with it are still highly controversial.

Calling them "doubters," Nelson said there are still some senators who don't even believe climate change is a reality. He called the issue "politically treacherous," primarily for senators in tough reelection districts.

When it comes to curbing greenhouse emissions, Nelson said it is a global issue that will require cooperation from several countries.