Tom DiLiberto: Accept the climate change challenge with open arms

Climate change is often addressed with statistics and figures about what global temperatures will be, how much seas will rise and how much more rain will fall, but what do those figures actually look like?

NOAA's Tom DiLiberto took to the VERGE stage in San Francisco to make plain the challenges business — and the Earth's society at large — will face in the future.

"Climate change is like giving the atmosphere an extra quarter to upgrade from a medium to a large soda in a movie theater," DiLiberto said. "Warm air holds more water in it, which means heavy rainfall is going to increase."

Rainfall alone won't be the only flooding we'll see. DiLiberto said sea levels are expected to rise between 1 to 4 feet by the end of the century. At that rate, DiLiberto said coastal infrastructure could be flooded in 50 to 100 years.

"But you don't have to wait that long. Parts of Miami flood now during high tide," he said.

DiLiberto didn't want to leave us feeling as if we're all doomed, however. He shared several climate monitoring tools and technologies that can help individuals, policymakers and businesses anticipate what impacts a changing climate will have in specific regions.

But those technologies don't let us off the hook. "Just because technology will help people solve challenges in the future, people decide just how bad those challenges will get," DiLiberto said.

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