At the University of Miami lecture last night, where Dr. Harold Wanless spoke on global warming and sea level rise, what was shocking was the size of the audience. There were well over 150 people in attendance. You could have heard a pin drop, as Dr. Wanless outlined recent science and data showing that ice melt in Greenland, the Arctic and Antarctica are occurring at a far faster pace than climate scientists anticipated only a few years ago.
People are paying attention, finally, even if the threat of sea level rise has scarcely broken the surface of political discourse. Dr. Wanless wryly noted that the disappearance of arctic ice is being championed as as opportunity for drilling more oil. The main focus of public policy should be two-fold: transition as quickly as possible away from fossil fuels, and, begin to plan and invest for moving the key landmarks of civilization away from the coasts.
Scientists can't put a timeline on when sea level rise will manifest, although anyone with a bit of imagination can go to Alton Road and 10th Street on Miami Beach at a normal high tide and see for themselves: we are just getting the first taste.
At 11AM today, the CLEO Institute in Miami is organizing a rally right there, next to the Whole Foods Market, "to call on presidential candidates to address sea level rise that is impacting our communities right now".