The Tide is Rising

Since day one, President Obama has been a strong leader on environmental issues. Whether it was setting historic fuel economy standards or doubling renewable electricity, President Obama has always fought to give our kids a stronger, more sustainable future. In fact, our carbon pollution has dropped to the lowest level in nearly 20 years.

I have admired his work on all of these fronts, but his recent call to action on climate change really hits home.

As a representative of South Florida, climate change threatens the very existence of our communities. Since the 1920s alone, we've experienced 9-inches of sea-level rises. This may sound inconsequential but if trends continue or accelerate as we pump more greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, communities like mine in South Florida and coastal communities all across the country face a desperate fight against rising sea levels.

In fact, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the sea level could rise more than six feet by the end of the century. If this happens, there is no doubt that much of South Florida, will be underwater, since half of the region is less than five feet above sea level. Even a three foot rise would result in one third of South Florida being covered by seawater.

We are Floridians. Our kids get civic lessons on how to prepare for hurricanes. We have processes in place for dealing with these types of natural disasters. We've survived dozens of weather related emergencies. We've recovered and rebuilt. But while we may be prepared for more immediate weather emergencies, we have not come to terms with the slow, gradual rise of the tides that will leave our communities underwater.

But sea level “could" rise is the important distinction here. It means that we still have an opportunity to reverse course. It means hope for the millions of families in Florida and other communities across our country. And it means that our actions today can affect the outcomes tomorrow.

President Obama is leading on the issue. He's put forth a bold plan to reduce carbon pollution, accelerate the development of clean energy, reducegreenhouse gas emissions and invest in sustainable and resilient infrastructure projects to prepare for the effects of climate change.  But he can't do it alone. We need to Congress to act before it's too late, and before Miami becomes the next great American attraction for snorkelers and dive enthusiasts alike.

Join me and sign this petition demanding that Congress follow the President's lead.

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