Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sea level rise in Florida ... Now is the time to prepare for the great floods... is anyone in Miami listening? by gimleteye

"If we want to build a lasting legacy for our descendants, we should do so on the plentiful land that is in no danger from the sea." That's the ending of a July 1 editorial in New Scientist Magazine, "Now is the time to prepare for the great floods". (reprinted below)

In Florida we are not even close to "acting" on land use restrictions for new development in future flood plains. I served as Mayor Alvarez' appointee on the Miami Dade Climate Change Advisory Task Force during its first year, along with dozens of other volunteers who brought a wide range of experience to the subject. The one constituency that wasn't represented: South Florida builders.

In the recent session of the Florida legislature, the building and construction lobby promoted a new law to make state review of land use planning even weaker than it is, today. They are agitating to entirely do away with the state agency charged with growth management in the next session of the state legislature. So, on the one hand we have a clarion call for attention to "preparing for the great floods" and, on the other hand, we have industry doing everything in its considerable power to do the opposite: "keep building in flood plains". The US Army Corps of Engineers is promoting a new "roadshow" in Florida: "a full day of interaction with Corps Project Managers to discuss helpful tips for streamlining permitting." Florida Power and Light has amassed an army of engineers and lobbyists to secure permitting for two new nuclear reactors at sea level at the edge of Biscayne National Park, including transmission lines for its "needed capacity" in the middle of an extremely low lying portion of Everglades National Park. The FPL boondoggle, whose planning costs are already being fronted by ratepayers, will likely exceed $20 billion. The question arises with every inch of lifting seas; who will pay to decommission nuclear reactors at sea level as a matter of a public emergency? No one is asking this question, except on the blogs. Florida's builders who only care about getting the sheet rock flowing and the nail guns shooting give new meaning to the label, "radical extremists".

Read the editorial from New Scientist Magazine, here:

Now is the time to prepare for the great floods

01 July 2009
New Scientist Magazine issue 2715.

THREE key facts about rising sea levels need to be hammered home to the world's politicians and planners: sea-level rise is now inevitable, it will happen faster than most of us thought, and it will go on for a very long time.

Even if greenhouse gas emissions stopped tomorrow, the oceans will continue to swell as they warm, and as glaciers and ice sheets melt or slide into the sea (see "Going, going..."). The growing consensus among climate scientists is that the "official" estimate of sea-level rise in the last report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - 0.2 to 0.6 metres by 2100 - is misleading. It could well be in the region of 1 to 2 metres, with a small risk of an even greater rise. And barring a megaproject to cool the planet, it could take several thousand years for the system to reach equilibrium - by which time sea level will be somewhere between 10 and 25 metres higher than it is today.

For many islands and low-lying regions, including much of the Netherlands, Florida and Bangladesh, even small rises will spell catastrophe. Most countries, however, will only lose a tiny percentage of their land, even with a very big rise. The problem is what has been built on that land: large parts of London, New York, Sydney and Tokyo, to mention just a few cities. Unless something can be done, great swathes of urban sprawl will vanish beneath the waves. It will take a massive engineering effort to protect these cities - an effort that may be beyond economies that have been brought to their knees by climate change.

In a few hundred years, large parts of London, New York and Sydney will vanish beneath the waves
None of this means we should despair, and stop trying to curb emissions; the more we pump into the atmosphere, the higher and faster the seas will rise. But alongside these efforts, we need to start acting now to minimise the impact of future sea-level rise. That means we must stop building in the danger zone.

Countless billions are being spent on constructing homes, offices, factories and roads in vulnerable coastal areas. For instance, the glittering skyscrapers of Shanghai, China's economic powerhouse, are being built on land that is a mere 4 metres above sea level on average, and which is sinking under the weight of its buildings and as water is extracted from the rocks beneath them.

In cities that have been around for hundreds of years, this sort of development may be understandable. But planning for new coastal developments is to fly in the face of reality. If we want to build a lasting legacy for our descendants, we should do so on the plentiful land that is in no danger from the sea. It is one of the easiest ways to mitigate climate change, and we should be acting on it now.


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Florida Keys could be lost to rising seas

The Associated Press

Published: Sunday, July 12, 2009 at 7:32 a.m.
KEY WEST, Fla. — Treasure salvors searching for an 18th-century wreck in the Florida Straits a few years ago made a fascinating but little noticed discovery. Not buried treasure. Buried land.

Some 35 miles west of Key West, in 45 feet of water under a five-foot layer of dense mud lay an 8,500-year-old shoreline not unlike today's coast of the Florida Keys. There were well-preserved mangroves, pine cones and pine tree pieces, some amazingly still fragrant when brought to the surface.

"Looking at it, I was thinking: 'Wow, this could be the shoreline of Big Pine Key,'" said Corey Malcom, director of archaeology for the Mel Fisher Maritime Heritage Society.

The prehistoric past paints a sobering picture of what many experts see as an all-too-near future for the string of low-lying islands that make up the Florida Keys.

"South Florida is on the front line against sea-level rise in the United States, and the Florida Keys are ground zero," said Evan Flugman, who co-authored a Florida International University report on the importance of Monroe County tackling the issue now.

By 2100, under the best-case predictions of a seven-inch sea-level rise by an international climate panel, the Keys would lose about 59,000 acres of real estate worth $11 billion, according to the nonprofit Nature Conservancy.

Under the panel's worst-case projection of ocean waters rising 23.2 inches, about 75 percent of the Keys 154,000 acres and nearly 50 percent of its $43 billion property value could become submerged. Consequences also include the loss of habitat for many endangered plants and species, including Key deer.

And the panel's predictions are conservative in comparison to some scientists' calculations.

The eye-opening projections were presented at a June meeting in Marathon to urge Monroe County Mayor George Neugent, other Keys leaders and residents to develop long-term plans to deal with climate change. Unlike Miami-Dade and Broward counties, the Keys do not have a climate change task force.

The charts displayed at the meeting, which depicted disappearing land, weren't intended as scare tactics. As Chris Bergh, the Nature Conservancy's director of coastal and marine resilience for Florida, said: "Nobody is going to drown from sea-level rise."

In the last century, waters in the Keys gradually rose nine inches, an amount that caught the attention of scientists but few others. But if a growing consensus of climate predictions for this century prove true, rising waters will become impossible to ignore.

"This presentation is not to make anybody panic and run out and sell their property; I live on Big Pine and am trying to add onto my home," Bergh said. "It's designed to make people think and get better information."

During the presentation, Patrick Gleason, a geologist and member of the Broward County Climate Change Committee, noted that South Florida is among the world's more vulnerable areas, due to low elevation and a porous limestone base.

A Nature Conservancy study mapped out the potential ecological and economic consequences of rising seas for the Keys, particularly Big Pine Key. Yet the FIU study concluded that little has been done to plan for climate change in the Keys.

"If we are the canary in the coal mine, let's start tweeting," said the Nature Conservancy's Florida Keys conservation manager Alison Higgins, who also serves as president of the Keys' nonprofit Green Living Energy Education.

James Murley, appointed by Gov. Charlie Crist as chairman of the Florida Energy & Climate Commission, said Monroe County should take advantage of its state designation as an area of critical concern. He said the county should seek help from the state and nearby climate change task forces.

Murley, who lives part time in Key West, acknowledged that "there are still a lot of science questions out there. But go with what you know and start makings plans, which you can adjust."

Experts at the Keys meeting said any plan to address rising seas should include mitigation to help reduce greenhouse gases that are accelerating sea-level rise and adaptation to cope with the consequences.

"Some people think, 'Let's put up sea walls, build New Orleans' type dikes and levees,'" Bergh said. "But that won't work for the porousness of rock and sand in the Keys."

Residents attending the meeting offered their own suggestions. One said the Keys should clean up toxic sites that could pollute the sea. Another suggested raising the roadbeds every time a road is repaved.

Already, though, scientists say the Keys have seen the results of climate change, from coral reef bleaching to loss of land. Standing in about a foot of salt water that now fills a 1950s mosquito control ditch on Big Pine Key, Bergh showed how the sea already has saturated the once-dry spot. Pointing at a dead tree, he said: "The pines tell the story."

Under the international climate panel's best-case scenario, Big Pine Key would lose 16 percent of its land to the sea and another 11 percent of upland habitat for the endangered Key Deer and other rare species and plants.

Under the worst-case prediction, the sea would claim 51 percent of Big Pine Key, and leave only 4 percent of the island's pine forest and hardwood hammocks intact.

"Whatever we do, we are just buying time," Bergh said. "Ultimately, the sea will cover this whole place."


Jill said...

Fiddle Dee Dee.
They aren't going to worry about it until 2014
"The Task Force should monitor sea level rise scientific literature and comprehensively revisit the projections in 2014 to refine and adjust the recommendations made here."

Jill said...

Miami-Dade is thinking about it.. too acting on it though seems to revolve around alternative fuel.
Global Climate Change - Urban CO2 Reduction Plan
Recognizing the threat that Global Climate change could have on our way of life here in Miami-Dade, the County adopted a comprehensive plan to reduce our local contribution to global climate change. The plan, called the "Urban CO2 Reduction Plan," identifies 35 unique opportunities to improve County operations, reduce energy demand, improve our quality of life, and establish an example for the rest of the country to follow.

The plan targets energy use, transportation, land use, and solid waste as the primary contributors to climate change locally. A number of measures have been taken and progress on these items is reported to the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners annually.


Anonymous said...

I believe we need to extrapolate from today and take it out in five year increments, with maps. The coastal dwellers will get hit first. Many of them are builders. Let's give them advance notice to go ahead and sell their residences. I think we need to start looking for a new Down Town area too. I'm just sayin....

Anonymous said...

Yes...listening and laughing at the hysterial fools.
Clearly the cold wave happened because I parked my SUV for a couple of weeks.
This just in...
Coolest July 21 recorded in Nashville as cool wave continues in Tenn.
By Associated Press
7:59 AM CDT, July 21, 2009
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Cool weather has broken a previous low temperature for July 21 in Nashville that was set when Rutherford B. Hayes was president.

When the temperature at the National Weather Service station dipped to 58 degrees at 5:30 a.m. on Tuesday, it wiped out the previous record low for the date of 60 degrees, which was set in 1877.

Hmmmmmmm.....Nashville TN, what was the name of that famous son of a Senator from Nashville..
..Jr.. ..something Jr.

Anonymous said...

Dude, it is called "global weirding" and there is a lot more to come.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'd better get my SCUBA Certification! YIKES, The end is near.


Anonymous said...

I listened to a debate on this. The guy who was arguing that there shouldn't be such hype about global warming mentioned, by the way, that the topography of areas and the way that they are developed can have a great deal to do with local temps and rainfall. So, for those of you who poo poo the global warming thing, don't be so fast to support irresponsible development in the area. I was the one who made the crack about finding a new down town. If we pave the everglades, DUDES, the flooding is going to be hellacious and Kendall won't be 3 to 4 degrees cooler than the rest of the place. It will have an affect.

Village Green Man said...

It remains a mystery to me how anyone can still ignore the global impacts we have created. Listening to weird programs like the clunker deal that just passed another 2 billion to remove some SUV's off the street continue to fall short of true action required to make a change.
South Florida will no doubt feel these impacts as one of the first areas in the US. It remains up to the individuals to make a lasting change for the better. Government can merely direct and mandate, it is all of us that must make the change.
Then again, we might just be a little late…