1. Opinion

Column: Trump's election shouldn't stop climate action

Tourists from Idaho navigate soggy streets in Miami Beach. Rising seas, here abetted by a King Tide, make flooding routine.
Published Dec. 9, 2016

If President-elect Donald Trump wants to know if climate change is real, he need look no further than communities across the great state of Florida. Millions of hard-earned taxpayer dollars in Fort Lauderdale are spent to fix repeatedly flooded roads and drains, even from as far as six miles away from the coast. Hallandale Beach has had to abandon six of its eight drinking water wells. And in Miami, families are on the brink of losing their ability to purchase insurance to protect their homes and possessions against extreme weather events and sea level rise.

Here in Tallahassee, we have also witnessed the immense damage of stronger and more frequent storms. This fall Hurricane Hermine left thousands without power, and just weeks after boarding up their windows, our families and businesses were welcoming South Floridians fleeing Hurricane Matthew.

We can also see heat-trapping gases driving temperatures to record highs, including this past August, which was the hottest month since record-keeping began in 1880. Meanwhile sea levels have risen nine inches over the last century, and by 2060, seas could rise an additional two feet. For Florida, that means roughly $70 billion in coastal Florida property, not previously at risk, could flood at high tide.

Climate change is not a problem for the distant future. It is an urgent threat. And we must act now to address it.

Unfortunately, the newly elected president calls climate change a "hoax." As mayor of Tallahassee, I challenge the president-elect to come to Tallahassee and tell my constituents — those on the front lines of the damage — that climate change isn't real.

Climate change is a neighbor losing all their personal possessions due to floods. Climate change is a senior citizen struggling with the summer heat in a home without air conditioning. Climate change is a student missing school because an asthma attack sent her from homeroom to the emergency room.

That's why I support the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, which sets the first ever federal limits on carbon pollution and promotes the investment in clean, renewable energy. It's also the biggest step the United States has taken to address climate change. When fully implemented, the Clean Power Plan will generate $54 billion in annual climate and health benefits, and prevent up to 3,600 deaths nationwide. And if states like Florida include energy efficiency measures in their compliance plans, families can save more than $200 per year on their utility bills.

But these lifesavings standards, and many others, are under attack by the incoming Trump administration. Donald Trump has appointed climate deniers to key positions of influence in his administration and we should absolutely expect him, and his congressional allies, to keep his promise to roll back the Clean Power Plan and undermine the Clean Air Act.

This election did not give Trump a mandate to do that. People all across this country — in red and blue states alike — broadly support clean air, clean energy, and climate action to protect the health of our communities and families. In fact, two-thirds of Americans — and two-thirds of Floridians — support the Clean Power Plan.

That's why it is imperative that the president-elect listen to his constituents, because attempts to dismantle these protections will not be easy or happen without a fight.

Frequent and extreme weather, worsening air quality, and rising temperatures are not conditions our chil-dren, communities or elderly should have to endure. And delaying climate action will only intensify the damage and increase the costs. Now, more than ever, our elected leaders need to hear that we demand climate action.

Andrew Gillum is the mayor of Tallahassee.


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