Public opinion towards human-induced climate change is polarized along parti- san lines. Indeed, the preponderance of scholarly work suggests that not even direct experiences with the consequences of climate change result in long-lasting effects on opinions or behaviors. Our analysis of over 519,000 survey respondents and nearly 30,000 precinct-level voting returns challenges this emerging consensus for one kind of climate change event: sea level rise. We find that persistent vulnerability to sea level rise powerfully influences opinions and behaviors on global warming. Coastal residents whose communities are affected by sea-level rise are more likely to believe in climate change and be willing to act accordingly. This association is strongest among those who are firmly attached to their communities, as opposed to those with the most to lose financially. We speculate that sea-level rise is unique in that its effects are not easily mitigated and that the ocean is an ever-present reminder of the inexorable toll of climate change.