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Union of Concerned Scientists Ad Presses Presidential Candidates on Climate Threat

Over the next month, the Manchester Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire’s five video screens will regularly show an animated ad depicting the state’s four leading presidential candidates with tides rising to their waists from climate-induced sea level rise. The 10-second spot asks, “How will you deal with sea level rise in New Hampshire?” and is expected to be seen by the candidates, their teams, and the press as they arrive for the GOP presidential debate on February 6 and primary on February 9.

Republicans Donald Trump and Marco Rubio, and Democrats Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are depicted in the ad as the leading candidates for each party, based on a CNN poll for January 10 to 15, 2016.

The initiative received bi-partisan support from New Hampshire State Senators Nancy Stiles (R-District 24) and David Watters (D-District 4). Many leaders from coastal states recognize that coastal flooding is an existing problem, and one of national importance. Stiles co-hosted the Rising Tides summit organized by UCS and the World Resources Institute that took place in October, which was attended by 40 locally elected officials from 18 coastal states who are working to address the issue.

“Manchester Boston Regional Airport is the gateway for national and international media and every surviving campaign in the wake of the Iowa caucuses,” said Stiles. “I hope the ad drives home just how serious we are about getting the candidates to address this problem. And if reporters passing through the airport aren’t already asking the candidates about their plans, hopefully they’ll start doing so.”

UCS research has shown that some coastal communities are experiencing flooding in low-lying areas due to extreme tides more often than they were 40 years ago. In fact, tidal flooding has quadrupled in frequency since 1970 in a few areas, including Charleston, South Carolina, which faced 2 to 3 days of tidal flooding a year in the 1970s and has averaged 10 or more over the last decade. The organization claims that the problem could become “chronic” by 2030. The mid-Atlantic coast is expected to be hit the hardest; places such as Annapolis, Maryland and Washington, DC could experience more than 150 tidal floods a year, and several locations in New Jersey could see more than 80 tidal floods a year.

“This is a real problem that cities all along the Eastern Seaboard are struggling with,” said Watters. “This issue deserves a place of prominence on the national agenda. Oceanfront counties are home to more than 104 million Americans and account for 38 percent of U.S. GDP. This issue is not going away no matter who’s elected.”

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