Recently elected Democratic Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is warning that global warming could raise sea levels high enough to flood the Hampton Roads region, home to the world's largest naval base, without immediate and “smart decisions.”

Addressing an environmental summit this week at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va., McAuliffe embraced climate change, blamed humans for causing it, and said action is needed now to protect Virginia's coast from rising ocean levels that will result from global warming.

“The first big decision of course is to accept that climate change is real,” he told the group. “I happen to believe in climate change. And I happen to believe that humans contribute to climate change.”

What’s more, he said, the science agrees with him. Scoffing at critics, including his former campaign foe, Republican Ken Cuccinelli, he said, “I think it’s pretty much settled. I think the impacts are being felt every day.”

The governor cited a recent NBC report about the growing threats of climate change and a government report that said the Hampton Roads area was second to only New Orleans in risk from rising sea levels.

“It is frightening what’s going on, so first and foremost we have to accept that climate change is real,” said McAuliffe.

He recalled campaigning in Hampton Roads, which includes Norfolk, home to the world’s largest naval base and the U.S. Atlantic Fleet.

“If I was there and it rained a day or two or three, there were roads that were shut down. They bring the cones out. That’s just with rain. Now we know with these severe weather patterns, it’s not just a question of if, its a question of when,” said the governor.

“So we need to make smart decisions to do what we need to do. We cannot afford to ignore this. We need to prepare our coastal communities to deal with the growing threat of climate change and all related national disasters,” he added.

McAuliffe said that he will call together the state’s climate change study group, which was ignored by former Gov. Bob McDonnell, to help develop ways the state can fight the threat.

“I’m going to do what I have to do to protect taxpayer money. I’m going to make smart decisions,” he said.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at