This picture of Miami is uncredited and is attached to a story I will link to.
The story is titled,” Miami, as we Know it, Today, is Doomed. It’s Not a Question of if. It’s a Question of When.” It’s by Joe Romm of Thinkprogress.org. The link is here. It is based on a recent Rolling Stone article by Jeff Goodell. There is a link to the article in the story but you can also find it here.
Now this seems like one of those sensational scare stories doesn’t it. But if you read either of the articles you will soon realize that Miami is in trouble already.
“South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won’t just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades.
Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. “Imagine Swiss cheese, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like,” says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. “Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here,” says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas.”
“Of course, South Florida is not the only place that will be devastated by sea-level rise. London, Boston, New York and Shanghai are all vulnerable, as are low-lying underdeveloped nations like Bangladesh. But South Florida is uniquely screwed, in part because about 75 percent of the 5.5 million people in South Florida live along the coast. And unlike many cities, where the wealth congregates in the hills, southern Florida’s most valuable real estate is right on the water. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development lists Miami as the number-one most vulnerable city worldwide in terms of property damage, with more than $416 billion in assets at risk to storm-related flooding and sea-level rise.”
“One of the first consequences of rising seas will be loss of drinking water. In fact, it’s already starting to happen.”
“In South Florida, the drinking-water supply comes from a big lake just below the surface known as the Biscayne aquifer. Engineers examined the situation and determined that the combination of draining the swamps and pumping out the aquifer had changed hydrostatic pressure underground and allowed salt water to move into the aquifer.”
“Truth be told, it’s hard to live on a thin barrier island seven miles long like Miami Beach and be a climate-change denier. The ocean-facing side is protected by a man-made dune and beach, which is 10 feet high on the southern end, but the west side of the island is only a few feet above Biscayne Bay. Not so many years ago, the west side was a mangrove swamp. When the city emerged in the 1920s, nobody gave any thought to sea-level rise – they just chopped down the mangroves and started building on the low, swampy ground. As a result, the west side of Miami Beach is among the most flood-prone areas in Florida. Whenever there is a full moon and a high tide, the sea water comes up through the old storm drains and flows into the streets. In some places, it bubbles up between the street and the sidewalk. During high tide, Miami Beach can feel like it is being swallowed up by the waves. And of course, as the seas rise, this is only going to get worse.”
You might want to visit while you can.
In another section of the climate change denying South is the story of Louisiana Highway One.
“The lower section of LA Highway 1, which runs from Grand Isle in south Louisiana up to Shreveport, is “at-risk infrastructure” in Lafourche and Jefferson Parishes, LA 1 Coalition executive director Henri Boulet said last week. Speaking at a Gulf Coast Restoration Summit in New Orleans last Monday, Boulet urged officials to continue elevating LA 1 before it’s too late. Barely above sea level in spots, the highway is sinking near the coast as the state’s wetlands suffer from erosion and ground subsidence.”
“LA 1 now floods even in low-level storms, and road closures after storms are becoming longer and longer. Sometimes the road, which is the only one into Grand Isle, Port Fourchon and the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, is shut for five or six days at a time.” LA 1 has been designated by the U.S. Congress as “critical energy infrastructure,” he said.”
“LA 1 is the hurricane evacuation route used by thousands of offshore oil and gas workers, 1,300 residents of Grand Isle and employees at Port Fourchon. Many of them, along with tourists, become stranded when the highway is closed. Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, trapped in Grand Isle several years ago after a storm brewed, had to be helicoptered to her next appointment,”
“Highway 1 is facing a relative, sea-level rise of 9 millimeters per year–one of the highest rates on the U.S. Gulf Coast,” he said. “It’s subsiding at a rapid rate of 7 millimeters a year and is subject to sea-level rise of 2 millimeters yearly.”
“Southern LA 1 is critical to the nation’s economy, according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Dept. of Highway Safety. The agency predicted that a 90-day closure of seven miles on the lower end of the route, along with a simultaneous shutdown of Port Fourchon, would slash oil and gas production immediately and could cut U.S. gross domestic product by up to $7.8 billion over a multi-year period.”
I will probably be talking about New Orleans in the future. Much of the city is below sea level (49%). How much of the future rise of the sea can we afford?
Edited on 7/15/13—Here’s another article on the climate change problems in South Florida.