South Florida faces both immediate and long-term threats from climate change. The impact of sea-level rise is already evident in the form of urban flooding during high tides and major storms; saltwater intrusion that endangers groundwater supplies and inland ecosystems; and coastal erosion that is compromising the very beaches that millions of tourists flock to each year. The region’s low-lying geography makes both people and property extremely vulnerable: Miami–Dade County has more people living less than four feet (1.2 m) above sea level than any other U.S. state besides Louisiana, and nearly $40 billion worth of real estate is located less than three feet (0.9 m) above sea level, according to the World Resources Institute. Miami’s beachfront property is valued at $14.7 billion alone, while the cost to upgrade public infrastructure—water, sewer, and wastewater treatment systems; utility grids; drainage systems; roads, bridges, and highways; schools; and hospitals—will be in the hundreds of millions to repair or replace.
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