More wildfires in the West, more winter storms in the North and more flooding and hurricanes in the South. That's just a few of the conclusions reached in the National Climate Assessment report prepared by more than 300 experts and released by the White House this week. The report stresses that these extreme weather events are "happening now" but will be more frequent in the future.
"Whether it means increased flooding, greater vulnerability to drought, more severe wildfires...all these things are having an impact on Americans as we speak," said President Obama.
Floridians are among the most vulnerable especially those living in or near Miami. The climate report projects that sea levels will rise one to four feet by 2100 and possibly higher in certain areas. If sea levels rise even four feet many in Miami-Dade County will find themselves or their properties under water. Florida has more people living less at than four feet above sea level than any U.S. state except Louisiana, according to the World Resources Institute.
"Florida is just a chilling glimpse of the future for us," says Yahoo Finance's Jeff Macke in the video above.
So what can and should be done now to alter that doomsday scenario?
"It comes down to mitigation versus adaptation," says Macke. "Can we control this? Can we put all kinds of resources into stopping global warming? That's the stuff America is not going to do ... It's very expensive... So what we're going to do instead is adaptation."
The climate change report stresses that mitigation AND adaptation are needed and notes that adaption will be less successful if "significant mitigation efforts are not taken."
Mitigation efforts would include stricter standards to reduce carbon emissions from cars and power plants. The report recommends that global carbon emissions be limited to 44 billion tons per year within the next 25 years -- a level it expects will be reached within 10 years.
Adaptation would include projects such as Miami's $400 million project to make its drainage system more resistant to rising tides as well as proposals to build floodgates in low-lying areas like lower Manhattan.
Macke says the free market -- and not just government -- has to be part of the solution, including energy companies like BP (BP) and Exxon (XOM), which can develop more efficient energy systems including alternative fuel sources.
Stanford University meanwhile has decided to divest its endowment funds of any publicly traded coal company and no longer invest in them because of the availability of alternate energy sources.
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