On Monday, junior Republican Senator Marco Rubio will announce that he’s running for president. The city he’s chosen for his formal announcement? His hometown of Miami, which is a city that faces drowning due to the changing climate. Rubio rode a Tea Party wave to his first term in the Senate in 2010, and he couldn't have picked a better spot to remind people that he doesn't accept the vast field of science that shows how climate change threatens southern Florida. Rubio's head is buried somewhere in Miami Beach’s sand, while the city faces encroaching tides because of rising sea levels.
His first public comments as a climate change denier came in 2009, when Rubio told the Miami Herald, “I'm not a scientist,” to explain the “significant scientific dispute about” whether climate change is real. (Again, among scientists, there is no dispute.) In his 2013 response to the State of the Union, Rubio said, “The government can’t change the weather.” Last year, in an interview with ABC’s This Week, Rubio again rejected science. “I don't know of any era in world history where the climate has been stable,” he said. “Climate is always evolving, and natural disasters have always existed… I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”
For the record, Rubio once saw the benefit of acting on climate change. In a 2007 video unearthed by BuzzFeed, he argued that “global warming, dependence on foreign sources of fuel, and capitalism have come together to create opportunities for us that were unimaginable just a few short years ago.” Today, though, Rubio says that if we do something about climate change “it will destroy our economy.” But climate inaction is going to destroy Miami soon enough, damaging Florida’s economy in the process.
A map from the New York Times shows what 5 feet of sea level rise would do to Miami, something that could happen in a century: It would permanently submerge 20 percent of Miami’s “dry, habitable land,” and 94 percent of Miami Beach.
The city has already begun to experience problems from rising tides, and we’re a long way from the end of the century. According to a fall Union of Concerned Scientists report: By 2030, Miami will see flooding during high-tide increase eight-fold. By 2045, that will grow to 40 times as much flooding.
“Another foot of sea-level rise will be enough to bring salt water into our fresh water supplies and our sewage system. Those services will be lost when that happens,” South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard has said.
Many local politicians and his own constituents—Democrats and Republicans—accept what is happening before their eyes. “This never used to happen,” a Miami business owner explained to the New York Times about the ankle-deep flooding now filling streets and blocking stores. “I’ve owned this place eight years, and now it’s all the time.”