Tampa faces new warnings on climate change

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At the request of Tampa city councilors, a group of climate scientists and advocates delivered buckets of bad news regarding the threat presented by rising sea levels.

"We don't want to use fear to convey," said Libby Carnahan, a University of Florida marine scientist. "We want to give people power to take action," 

The meeting was scheduled months before President Trump's statement that he disagrees with his own government's findings that climate change could destroy 10 percent of the American economy.

But because of the president's comments, the city's meeting took on added urgency.

"Climate change is already having a profound impact on the health and wealth of American people," said Susan Glickman, of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

Scientists told councilors that by 2045, 400 homes in Tampa, worth $182 million, will be at risk just because of rising seas. 

And it doesn't stop in Tampa.

"[In St. Petersburg,] by the end of the century, 45,000 homes will be at risk," one presenter said. "That would be 30 percent of the community."

With tax bases at risk, councilors were also shown scary-looking maps from planners who say roads must be built to withstand regular flooding by 2045.

The inundation could reach all the way to I-275.

Councilors are  staring at an expensive problem, and heard the scientists say immediate action must be taken to not only change building practices but to rules on the most political of problems: Carbon emissions.

"You are going to pay for it one way or another. If you don't pay for it on the front end, you will pay for it on the back end," said councilor Harry Cohen, "because your tax dollars are going to go to higher interest rates on the debt the city incurs."

Councilors said they were making plans to reach out to Governor-elect Ron DeSantis in hopes of establishing a working relationship ahead of his tenure.