Florida Counties Unite To Prepare for Climate Change
If you worry about the looming risk posed by climate change, it’s easy to start feeling hopeless. Last month, the UN’s COP-17 climate negotiations in Durban, South Africa, ended with little more than a commitment to keep working toward a new agreement to limit emissions, which might or might not eventually be ratified. In the U.S., at the national level, many politicians won’t even talk about climate change. Many of those who do it claim they’re not convinced — even though the vast majority of climate scientists are — that humans have much if anything to do with it.
As the scientific sense of urgency about climate change has increased, in short, the political will to do anything about it, in the U.S. at least, has mostly vanished. More than 23 years after James Hansen’s dramatic testimony in Senate hearings, which first brought widespread attention to the potential danger of global warming, serious attempts to limit greenhouse-gas emissions have gone pretty much nowhere. Over that same period, humans have pumped tens of billions of tons of additional CO2 into the atmosphere.
For the people who actually have to make government work at the local level, however, despair and hopelessness are luxuries they can’t afford. The sea is already rising. Droughts, heat waves, and other forms of extreme weather are coming more often and with more intensity. Major cities around the world, from Amsterdam to London to Shanghai to Jakarta, have begun active planning for the changes a warmer world will bring. And despite its virtual disappearance from the national conversation in the U.S., things are very different at the local level. New York, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, and other cities have all begun to prepare their own defenses against climate change.