miami beach leaving homes rising sea levels_00001816.jpg
miami beach leaving homes rising sea levels_00001816.jpg
Now playing
01:18
Leaving home to escape rising sea levels
two degrees climate change debate urgency_00002421.jpg
two degrees climate change debate urgency_00002421.jpg
Now playing
04:30
Is there a sense of urgency regarding climate change?
two degrees sea change in maine sebastian pkg_00005709.jpg
two degrees sea change in maine sebastian pkg_00005709.jpg
Now playing
02:57
Shortage of cod may be linked to climate change
This photo taken on March 3, 2014 shows a resident surrounded by the on-rushing high tide energized by a storm surge that damaged a number of homes across Majuro.   It was the third inundation of the Marshall's capital atoll in the past 12 months. The Marshall Islands has put climate change at the top of its political and diplomatic agenda and officials saw the recently held Cartagena Dialogue as an opportunity to gather momentum.      AFP PHOTO / Karl Fellenius        (Photo credit should read Karl Fellenius/AFP/Getty Images)
Karl Fellenius/AFP/Getty Images/FILE
This photo taken on March 3, 2014 shows a resident surrounded by the on-rushing high tide energized by a storm surge that damaged a number of homes across Majuro. It was the third inundation of the Marshall's capital atoll in the past 12 months. The Marshall Islands has put climate change at the top of its political and diplomatic agenda and officials saw the recently held Cartagena Dialogue as an opportunity to gather momentum. AFP PHOTO / Karl Fellenius (Photo credit should read Karl Fellenius/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
05:22
When climate change wipes your country off the map
Now playing
01:48
Your messages for COP21 leaders
long 2 degrees congo conservation damon pkg_00001323.jpg
long 2 degrees congo conservation damon pkg_00001323.jpg
Now playing
06:37
How to save mountain gorillas in the Congo
Now playing
01:16
2 degrees Celsius: A critical number for climate change
For two degrees, Woodward, Oklahoma story
John D. Sutter/CNN
For two degrees, Woodward, Oklahoma story
Now playing
03:23
Opinion: Common ground with climate skeptics
climate change coast cities ny sebastian pkg_00011504.jpg
climate change coast cities ny sebastian pkg_00011504.jpg
Now playing
02:29
Two degrees, climate change, and NY rebuilding efforts
View of the bed of Jacarei river dam, in Piracaia, during a drought affecting Sao Paulo state, Brazil on November 19, 2014. The Jacarei river dam is part of the Sao Paulo's Cantareira system of dams, which supplies water to 45% of the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo --20 million people-- and is now at historic low. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA        (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
View of the bed of Jacarei river dam, in Piracaia, during a drought affecting Sao Paulo state, Brazil on November 19, 2014. The Jacarei river dam is part of the Sao Paulo's Cantareira system of dams, which supplies water to 45% of the metropolitan region of Sao Paulo --20 million people-- and is now at historic low. AFP PHOTO / NELSON ALMEIDA (Photo credit should read NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:55
Where does '97% consensus' on climate change come from?
Now playing
03:10
Marshall Islands can't survive 2 degrees of warming
coal climate change two degrees sutter orig mg_00000302.jpg
coal climate change two degrees sutter orig mg_00000302.jpg
Now playing
03:53
The town that stood up to coal
two degrees ikea foundation curnow intv_00022629.jpg
IKEA Foundation
two degrees ikea foundation curnow intv_00022629.jpg
Now playing
03:28
IKEA invests in climate change action plan

Story highlights

Climate change isn't just a political issue for Donald Trump, who's in denial about it, writes John Sutter

Trump's Florida properties are threatened by rising sea levels, Sutter says

Editor’s Note: John D. Sutter is a columnist for CNN Opinion who focuses on climate change and social justice. Follow him on Snapchat, Facebook and email. The opinions expressed in this commentary are his.

(CNN) —  

On Thursday night, the remaining Republican presidential candidates – led, of course, by Donald Trump – will gather in the Miami area for yet another debate.

South Florida, whether or not it’s stated, is a crucial front line for climate change. And my hope is that the candidates, particularly Trump, won’t be able to keep dismissing questions about this issue.

For Trump, it’s not only rhetoric and votes that are at stake.

It’s property.

I plugged the addresses of a few luxury hotels bearing the Trump name into a handy tool developed to visualize the rise in sea levels that’s associated with global warming.

The Trump International Beach Resort, in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida, will sit on a slender island of land at 6 feet of sea-level rise, which the federal government says is possible this century.

It looks like Trump Hollywood, meanwhile, will be submerged at that point.

(Go to EyesOnTheRise.org/app, and you can search other locations.)

BuzzFeed’s Peter Aldhous had a similar idea and used NOAA data to make gifs out of the coming flood for the Trump-name real estate empire in South Florida.

Tellingly, he quoted a conservative radio host who asked Trump if he believes that “sea levels are increasing dramatically.”

Trump’s reply: “No, no I don’t.”

Super observant of him.

I hope he gets pushed on this issue.

Even if he doesn’t, though, the location of this debate serves to highlight a troubling irony: Trump, Ted Cruz (from Houston, another city threatened by rising seas) and Marco Rubio, who is from South Florida, all have much that is personally at stake when it comes to climate change.

They fail to recognize this, however.

The pool at Trump Hollywood in Florida, in a 2009 photo.
Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images
The pool at Trump Hollywood in Florida, in a 2009 photo.

And they fail to notice that low-income people will be hurt even worse.

“Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax,” Trump said at a South Carolina rally, according to PolitiFact. “I mean, it’s a money-making industry, OK? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

It’s not a hoax. More than 97% of scientists agree it’s real and we’re causing it by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. Failing to act will lead to coastal flooding, displaced people, poverty, death and mass extinction in the plant and animal worlds.

It’s our moral duty to create a cleaner economy.

Yet the GOP presidential contenders continue to either deny the existence of human-made climate change or fail to propose the needed solutions.

To beat this thing, we need to get off of fossil fuels sometime around 2050.

None of the presidential candidates, including the Democrats, has a plan that’s bold enough to do what the science tells us must be done if we’re not going to imperil future generations.

But the Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, boldly acknowledge the reality of climate change, they admit we’re causing it, and they have plans to start cutting back on pollution.

This is a crucial difference between the parties that must be recognized.

I hope this becomes apparent in Florida on Thursday. Already, the city of Miami Beach, not far from the site of the debate at the University of Miami, is spending $400 million to try to pump out floodwater. They’re seeing floods on sunny days associated with higher tides. I recently met a resident there who is packing up and planning to move to higher ground because of it.

This problem is real. It’s massively important.

And, luckily, there is still a little time to address it.

Thursday is another chance for Trump and the GOP to prove it can change, that it can adopt a rational and informed stance on climate policy and science.

South Florida would be the perfect place to do it.

If not for the rest of us, then at least for the Trump hotels.

Join us on Facebook.com/CNNOpinion.

Read CNNOpinion’s Flipboard magazine.