Nobody wants to leave our debts for the children to pay. That’s why there’s so much talk these days about the U.S. national debt: at $14 trillion, that’s $45,000 for every American alive today. But we recently put the debt in perspective with a report by the OECD forecasting costs of $6.6 trillion for the damage from climate change to just three U.S. cities: Miami, New York and New Orleans – assuming we continue with a business-as-usual approach to greenhouse gases. (Get it here.)
|Isn’t this city great? Zillions of us go there annually.|
Miami tops the list. We love this city! It’s warm, but not too warm. The beaches are beautiful, and so are the people. Every year, fully one in four Americans visit the state, and many of us come here. But it’s the #1 climate change loser for many good reasons. At $3.5 trillion in costs (or about $10,000 for every single American), Miami faces crushing challenges from sea level rise, loss of tourism, hurricane damage, fresh water shortages and other related effects.
|Even darkness can’t mask Miami’s appeal, can it?|
And recently, a remarkable study was done for the State of Florida by researchers at Tufts University, documenting the cost of climate inaction for the Sunshine State. Click here to download the complete report for yourself: http://www.ase.tufts.edu/gdae/Pubs/rp/Florida_lr.pdf
I’ll be reviewing notable impacts on Florida over the next few weeks. But for starters, if we maintain our current practices, the research predicts that Miami will be HOT! If we act quickly to rein in greenhouse gases, Miami will be 2 degrees (F) hotter than today’s average temperatures by the end of the century. But keep up our current practices of unrestricted use of coal and petroleum, and it will be almost 10 degrees hotter. TEN DEGREES HOTTER! That means that tomorrow’s Miami will have an average annual temperature of 85.6 degrees.
At first, 85.6 degrees average temperature didn’t sound so bad. So I started looking at global temperature charts for a city that is that hot today. Mumbai? Nope. Bangkok? Sweltering, but nowhere near this hot. Cairo, Lagos, Panama City or Kampala? Not even close.
|Blistering heat drives blinding dust storms in Khartoum|
But my labors were rewarded when I finally stumbled across the future of our tourist paradise: Khartoum, Sudan. Here’s a city of 5-7 million souls, living in 114-122 degree days from May to August. Now Khartoum is not Miami, but that’s how hot the research projects that Miami will be if we stay on our current course.
The heat will affect everything: keeping visitors away; drying out the crops and killing the livestock; warming the water and fomenting more intense tropical storms; and killing off the plant and animal species that are well adapted to today’s more benign temperatures.
|Tourist shots were hard to find; but lots like this!|
In Khartoum, the blistering sun dries everything, despite the life-giving White Nile and Blue Nile rivers that come together in the city. But with the blistering heat, even the world’s greatest rivers can’t save the city from fierce dust storms that periodically make travel and all other outdoor activities impossible. It’s hard to find visitor accounts, because so few people choose to go there.
The comparison between Miami and Khartoum may not be entirely fair. Unlike Khartoum, Miami has the Atlantic Ocean to cool off in. But this may turn out to be too much of a good thing: If we continue with business as usual, more that 69% of Miami-Dade County will be under the rising sea levels within 50 years.
So if you want to be good to those who will follow you on our Father’s world, do your best to reduce our country’s debts. But for the love of God, let’s not turn a blind eye to the cost we’re leaving them in the form of climate challenges.
Thanks for reading, and may God bless you.