J. Pat Carter

A new Federal Government report on climate change says parts of the United States are already being affected by warming temperatures. One case in point: Miami, Florida, where rising sea levels — the result of melting ice packs and the expansion of warming ocean water — are already changing the cityscape.

The New York Times has this report ( "Miami Finds Itself Ankle-Deep in Climate Change Debate," by Coral Davenport. "The national climate report found that although rapidly melting Arctic ice is threatening the entire American coastline, Miami is exceptionally vulnerable because of its unique geology," the paper reports. "The city is built on top of porous limestone, which is already allowing the rising seas to soak into the city's foundation, bubble up through pipes and drains, encroach on fresh water supplies, and saturate infrastructure. County governments estimate that the damages could rise to billions or even trillions of dollars."

National politicians are tip-toeing around the issue, the Times reports, but local officials are being forced to grapple with consequences created by rising water.

USA Today has this report ( "Miami is one of USA's top hot spots for climate change," by Wendy Koch. "It's remarkable. We get calls from people asking: 'It didn't rain, so why is my street underwater?'" says Broward County Commissioner Kristin Jacobs, noting the region's decades-old system to drain water is now causing it to bubble back up."

The Washington Post reports on the recently released National Climate Assessment ( "Report: Southeast is 'exceptionally vulnerable'," Associated Press). "Low-lying coastal areas are increasingly prone to flooding during tropical storms and hurricanes, and the report's authors worry that a migration of coastal residents fleeing unaffordable insurance costs may stress the social fabric in other areas," the paper reports. "Rising waters also put more pressure on utilities, contaminating freshwater supplies with saltwater or burdening aging storm water drainage systems designed to empty into the ocean. Barrier islands protecting oil and gas production infrastructure along the Gulf Coast are expected to become increasingly vulnerable to storm surge and deterioration from rising seas, the report says."