Someone skeptical of climate change is unlikely to believe in sea-level rise and take appropriate action, even when they see it with their own eyes. For example:

Flooded Miami street (Courtesy: WPLG Local 10 News)

Pinto: “There are these two contradictory things going on around me. One is, we are seeing increased flooding, we are seeing high tides that are flooding the streets, yet at the same time we’re seeing all this unprecedented construction on Miami Beach in the downtown area.”

That’s Juliet Pinto of Florida International University. She says this behavior is common since many people avoid dealing with conflicting ideas by seeking out information that confirms what they already believe.

So when a person who does not believe in global warming and sea-level rise sees a flooded local street, they will often attribute it to something else, such as a broken water pipe. Pinto says repeating the correct explanation is essential to overcoming this pattern.

Pinto: “We know that for information to be absorbed in a community it has to be sustained over time and across a lot of different platforms.”

Pinto says as the flooding gets worse and the explanation becomes more widely understood, more people will recognize the looming threat of sea level rise in Miami Beach.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo Courtesy: WPLG Local 10 News.

More Resources
“South Florida’s Rising Seas” Documentary
Eyes on the Rise website

Bud Ward

Bud Ward is Editor of Yale Climate Connections. He started his environmental journalism career in 1974. He later served as Assistant Director of the U.S. Congress's National Commission on Air Quality,...