Climate-change studies: Florida must act to avoid catastrophic damage

The rising sea may not swallow Florida quite as quickly as experts previously predicted, suggests a Florida State University study released Wednesday.

But before firing off told-ya-so e-mails to Al Gore, consider that under FSU's admittedly low-ball estimates, waves could still lap over 5,400-plus acres of Miami-Dade County real estate worth $1.4 billion in a little more than two decades.

By 2080 -- with a one-foot sea rise that is half an international climate panel's estimate -- the acreage awash in Miami-Dade could roughly triple, and losses would quintuple to $6.7 billion.

And that doesn't count the costs of suddenly salty drinking water or more frequent and destructive flooding from hurricane-driven surge.

The FSU study, and a companion study from Florida Atlantic University, argue that state leaders will have to make sweeping, potentially expensive, changes to everything from building codes to transportation planning to head off catastrophic damage to the environment and economy.

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