>> As Hurricane Irma takes aim at Florida, state leaders can't agree about how to deal with the threats they already face due to climate change. I'm Andy Sullivan in Miami Beach, an island city that is spending nearly $500 million to protect itself against the threat of rising sea levels brought on by a warming planet.
The cities installed massive pumps to wash out flood waters and it's raising street levels so cars don't have to drive through standing water. This isn't everyday problem brought on by events like high tides and normal rainfalls and it's improved daily life in the city, but officials say that it's not enough to withstand a major hurricane like Irma.
The area is under a mandatory evacuation order and at this point it's largely deserted.>> Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine urging residents to get out of town.>> I call it a nuclear hurricane, get out of Miami Beach, we don't need heroes.>> South Florida faces two big environmental threats, hurricanes and rising seas that scientists say are likely to get worse due to the same reason, climate change.
Study show that melting ice caps and shifting currents are causing sea levels to rise, well climate scientists say warmer ocean temperatures can generate stronger hurricanes. This year alone has seen two devastating hurricanes, Harvey and now Irma that could end up the most expensive in US history. Costing tax payers hundreds of billions of dollars.
As a densely populated, low lying state with more than 1,000 miles of coast line, Florida is especially at risk from both threats.>> This is a deadly major storm and our state has never seen anything like it. But the state's governor, Republican Rick Scott, has not addressed the threat of climate change, even as he scrambles to prepare for Irma's impact.
That's put him at odds with local politicians in South Florida like Levine, who say they need to take action now. Spending their own money to tackle the problem without help from the state. At the national level, President Donald Trump, an owner of Florida beachfront property, has pulled out of the Paris global climate agreement and has sought to eliminate federal climate change programs as well.
>> Cities like Miami Beach can try to tackle the less dramatic aspects of climate change like regular flooding and they can ensure that buildings are better constructed to withstand hurricane force winds. But there's nothing they can do to prevent these storms from brewing up in the first place.
Even if Irma doesn't hit this area directly, it's certain to face high winds, lots of rain, and a possible storm surge. And Miami Beach is just as exposed as other cities that aren't spending millions of dollars to try to hold back the sea.