What happens when a retired Florida tax attorney turns his attention to sea-level rise? For Dick Jacobs, it means protecting the Florida coast.

Coastline image

Jacobs says he’d never thought much about climate change until he saw red cedars that died from rising sea levels near his Tampa Bay home. It also made him consider how climate change could affect the economy.

Jacobs: “Florida’s economy is driven by tourism. Seventy-five percent of the people in Florida live in coastal communities. Seventy-nine percent of the economy of Florida comes from coastal communities.”

Since Florida does not collect income tax, it relies heavily on sales and property taxes. Jacobs worries that as flooding increases — and tourists seek higher ground — Florida will lose the revenue it needs to provide essential services.

Jacobs: “There are no two sources of taxes that are more vulnerable to sea level rise than property taxes and sales tax.”

As a former chairman of the tax section of the Florida Bar Association, Jacobs is advocating for changes to Florida’s tax laws. He says some tax revenue should address sea-level rise and aid flooded communities …

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… raising awareness that climate change is an economic, not just an environmental concern.

Reporting credit: Justyna Bicz/ChavoBart Digital Media.
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Sara Peach

Sara Peach is the editor-in-chief of Yale Climate Connections. She is an environmental journalist whose work has appeared in National Geographic, Scientific American, Environmental Health News, Grist,...