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Florida mayors to Rubio: We’re going under, take climate change seriously

A group of mayors from communities in south Florida has released an open letter to one of their senators, Marco Rubio, in which they call for a meeting to discuss the challenges posed by climate change. The mayors, from communities like Key Biscayne, Miami, and West Palm Beach, say that the challenge of climate change requires a strong presidential commitment to action, one they argue Rubio is lacking.

"As mayors representing municipalities across Florida, we call on you to acknowledge the reality and urgency of climate change and to address the upcoming crisis it presents our communities," the letter reads. "Our cities and towns are already coping with the impacts of climate change today." Flooding at high tides, severe storm surges, and the intrusion of saltwater into municipal water supplies are all problems these cities face.

Those issues come thanks to 20cm of sea-level rise over the previous century. Studies project that the area could see up to another 30cm rise by 2050, which the mayors say "could wipe out as much as $4 billion in taxable real estate in the four-county region of Southeast Florida." If those projections are low, things get bad quickly; a 90cm rise takes out $31 billion and leaves cities and the Everglades decisively under water.

Rubio is considered one of the leading establishment candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, although that position leaves him well behind both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz. But his past political history in the Florida legislature included the promotion of renewable energy and energy efficiency measures.