Climate change has arrived, says Newsweek science correspondent Sharon Begley, and the good ol' U.S. of A. has more or less been caught with its pants down, preparations-wise.

Only 15 states have completed or even started a plan to cope with climate change, which will bring profound changes over the next 20 to 30 years, including:

  • Washing out iconic Pacific Coast Highway 1, unless it’s rerouted (possibly through a mountain for safety)
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  • Eating up 580 miles a year of beach in the Chesapeake Bay
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  • Overwhelming city storm sewers with extreme flooding
  • Destroying some states’ cash-cow products, like citrus in California and maple syrup in Vermont

Miami and New Orleans will become islands, Manhattan's bottom tip will turn into Venice, and storms and droughts like the ones that cause record flooding of the Mississippi and drought in Texas will become the new normal. (Texas and Missisippi are not among the 15, by the way. Neither is Louisiana.)

You'd think our leaders would be planning for catastrophes that make 9/11 look like a papercut, but as usual they're beholden to the rich guys who might have to give up an ivory back-scratcher or two if the necessary changes were brought about.

So what lies behind America’s resistance to action? Economist [Jeffrey] Sachs points to the lobbying power of industries that resist acknowledgment of climate change’s impact. “The country is two decades behind in taking action because both parties are in thrall to Big Oil and Big Coal,” says Sachs. “The airwaves are filled with corporate-financed climate misinformation.”

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