See How Climate Change & Rising Sea Levels Plague American Cities Right Now (Video)

PBS Need to Know/Screen capture

By now, people everywhere are familiar with the basic concept of climate change: Human activity is pumping more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, where they're trapping more and more heat. And, obvs, global temperatures are rising.

But for many, that's where it ends. It remains a far-off threat, an abstraction—even though it's anything but. We're already seeing more extreme weather and record-breaking temperatures. Thankfully, people are beginning to link those weather events to global warming. Because that's what really drives understanding, and, more importantly, a will to act—when the impacts of our changing climate arrive on our doorstep.

That's why the following PBS Need to Know segment is a must-see. The program, part of the Climate Desk collaboration, thoughtfully illustrates the impact of sea level rise on Norfolk, Virginia. There, climate change is a thoroughly nonpartisan issue. The mayor, homeowners, and city workers all must grapple with increased and worsening flooding in the coastal city; flooding that's happening right now. Watch:

Watch Rising tide on PBS. See more from Need To Know.

The second notable point that jumps out of the fray here is that adapting to climate change is extremely expensive: Norfolk has sunk tens of millions of dollars into saving the most threatened part of the city—and it's just getting started. They've talked to Dutch consultants about further measures to build things like flood walls, which will be even more costly. And this is just one smallish city we're talking about here. The video points out that cities in coastal regions around the nation—where four million people live—are grappling with similar problems.

As such, doesn't it seem prudent to do what we can to mitigate climate change, which is comparatively inexpensive, by pricing carbon emissions or otherwise reining in greenhouse gas pollution? I'd think so.

Tags: Global Climate Change | Global Warming Causes | Global Warming Effects