Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Climate change threatens Florida coast

Editorial in the Ledger (Lakeland, Florida): Changing climatic conditions pose an unprecedented threat to U.S. coastlines, where the majority of Florida's residents live and many of our economic activity occurs. Sea-level rise, temperature increases, changes in the severity and strengthening of storms and other climate-related changes are expected to occur over the coming decades. The need to adapt to these climate-driven changes and to better manage existing coastal risks is obvious and immediate.

According to the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, insured property values along the gulf and Atlantic coasts have roughly doubled every decade. By the end of 2007, the gulf and Atlantic coasts had more than $9 trillion of insured coastal property. Florida's share of that is certain to exceed many billions of dollars. We need to have Florida property insurance prices reflect the real risk of hurricanes. If we don't do this then insurance will be subsidizing coastal development.

As coastal development is intensifying, so are coastal property losses. The higher wind speeds, storm surge, flooding and erosion hazards intrinsic to coastal regions increase the likelihood of property damage, degradation of coastal ecosystems and subsequent social costs….

An AC-130H gunship from the 16th Special Operations Squadron flies over the Destin, Florida coastline on Aug. 24, 2007, during multi-gunship formation egress training. Whatever that is. Shot by SrA Julianne Showalter, US Air Force

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