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Science & Environment

Climate Series Introduction

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Now, a new climate series from WEEKEND EDITION. And we begin a long, long time ago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: (As character) The dawn of civilization. The birth of the first cities.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Humans began to build, and much of what they constructed was along the coast. For the past 5,000 years, those coasts remained the same until now.

JOHN ENGLANDER: Sea level is rising for the first time in human civilization.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: John Englander is an oceanographer and climate expert. He says it is a profound change. Even if we slowed global warming significantly, it's now inevitable that the coasts, as we know them, will disappear.

ENGLANDER: As sea level rises foot by foot and it becomes clear that we can't stop it, we're going to have to change our concept of the shoreline and realize we can't save everything we'd like to.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And he says we're only at the beginning.

ENGLANDER: It's going to get worse. It's going to get worse exponentially. It's going to surprise us at the rate of growth sometime in the next 20 or 30 years.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But this is not a series about a bleak, dystopian future. These are stories about right now and how humans are already adapting to our new reality - the sea level rise, the heat, the storms and wildfires. So for the next few months, we'll be reporting stories from up and down the East Coast of the United States. It's an area of enormous economic and political importance, and it's home to one-third of the U.S. population. And people are already making choices, adapting to changes both major and minor. We'll begin in Miami.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Miami is ground zero for a sea level rise.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: Heat waves and vector-borne diseases - like, Zika - you know, saltwater intrusion in our water, hurricanes, extreme weather events...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But the story of Miami is more than a cautionary tale about climate change. Miami is a place people adore.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIAMI, YOU'VE GOT STYLE")

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: (Singing) Miami, Miami, you've got style.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Coming up later in the show, the people who love Miami and are fighting for their home.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MIAMI, YOU'VE GOT STYLE")

THE GOLDEN GIRLS: (Singing) When you live in this town, each day is sublime. The coldest of winters are warm and divine. Miami, Miami, you've got style. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.