Wednesday, December 05, 2012

The Miami Herald: As The Sea Really Rises ... by gimleteye

Mark the date: Monday, December 3, 2012. That's the day The Miami Herald opinion page noted science of climate change, including impacts of sea level rise, and planted its flag in favor of allocating taxpayer resources to the real costs to South Florida, as the sea rises. The immediate occasion involves the critical defects of the wastewater system serving 2 million residents, requiring a minimum $1.5 billion and probably a lot more.

What took so long? Let the Herald answer that question, please.

Readers deserve to know, because for decades scientists and conservationists have taken it on the chin from right-wing ideologues who successfully used the radical right message machine to throttle debate and thwart the advancement of public policies protecting future citizens, voters, and taxpayers.

They could have used a little back up from the Fourth Estate.

In its OPED, "Yes to the sewer system overhaul", the Herald writes: "Critics and environmentalists have long questioned the wisdom of putting a waste-water treatment plant on the picturesque island (just as they wonder why it was a government dump site at one time). Now, say clean-water activists and other supporters of Virginia Key’s habitat restoration, is the time to get rid of that treatment plant once and for all. Their reasoning is that, in 50 years, the land the plant sits on will likely be under water thanks to the effects of climate change. This is science talking." There it is: this is science talking.

The Herald acknowledges "county commissioners hate raising water and sewer fees." What The Herald does not say, is that the reason is not out of concern for taxpayers. If they were concerned for taxpayers, local government would not have allowed many billions of infrastructure deficits to pile up as they have. No. The reason county commissioners hate raising water and sewer fees is that it increases the cost of development and housing for its most important constituents in the building and development industries.

Those are the industries, by the way, who substantially contribute to the Herald's bottom line. We call it: The Growth Machine.

Now that the Herald acknowledges sea level rise and its costs, the city's only daily newspaper must help the community connect the dots to other decisions that need to factor in global warming: like Florida Power and Light's doomed plan to invest $20 billion in ratepayer money into two new nuclear reactors that will most certainly need to be decommissioned within the service lifetime of the project.

Local and state decisions favoring the new nuclear reactors are piling straight into the back of the Nuclear Regulator Commission's August moratorium on licensing new nuclear reactors and upgrades until the waste storage issues are solved.

If the Herald is serious about sea level rise, it needs to speak out now on the ill-advised plans for Turkey Point. That would lead the Herald to begin the long-avoided conversation about permitting more construction and development in wetlands and farmland and condos on the coast. And what about roadways and transportation infrastructure: as if the recent flooding of Alton Road or A1A in Fort Lauderdale on an ordinary high tide isn't enough of a red flag ...

But first, there is more pressing business: Art Basel Miami Beach. First things, first!


Anonymous said...

The Miami Herald connect the dots? That would lead to questioning building Genting's sea monkey palace on the bayfront, the art and science museums, the port tunnel and port dredge, tennis stadium on Key Biscayne, Miami Beach convention center, and all the other BS development the Herald continuously supports that no longer makes sense in light of sea level rise projections for Miami- one of the world's most at risk cities, in real terms and assets at risk. All our funds and efforts at this point should go to saving the city from going under- on the coast as well as further west, as both are under sea level now and sinking.
The Herald might also want to rethink it's move to Doral- scheduled for significant flooding in the future.

Anonymous said...

Correct on all counts.

Anonymous said...

Why is the Herald so silent and refusing to engage Rubio with climate change and rising seas?

Anonymous said...

We've now hit that planning horizon where we have to ask ourselves: is Miami worth inhabiting? This is a very scary question. It's also why I'm moving out of Florida and not getting a 30-year mortgage here.

As for the Virginia Key plant, rerouting all the sewage would be a bitch. You have to wonder whether a Miami in which Virginia Key is flooded is a Miami in which hundreds of thousands of people have already fled Downtown and the barrier islands, rendering the capacity of the plant obsolete roughly at the same time it gets flooded from sea level rise. For this reason, I am currently in favor of giving it enough maintenance to keep it running rather than rerouting the sewage across the whole city. I doubt there is even a location out west where the elevation is 15+ which is also far enough away from houses where the plant could be relocated, though I am open to being proven wrong.

Anonymous said...

Miami-Dade County is participating in a two-day conference in Jupiter,FL with the other member counties of the Climate Change Compact. Unfortunately, not one Commissioner is attending. And, Mayor Carlos Gimenez has made it clear he does not believe that global warming is a result of any activities of man, so he is definitely not attending. So much for a "compact" with our neighboring counties.

Anonymous said...

Regional Compact on Climate Change is happening in Jupiter, FL. No Miami-Dade elected officials attending. What gives?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Miami could serve as exhibit A for what happens to a major metropolitan area when the seas rise. A model for evacuation plans, relocation plans and all manner of orderly exits. Either we commit now to saving the city, which includes designated retreat zones (east and west) or we just enjoy the time we have left, ignoring reality until the day when a superstore hits us and elected officials discover climate change. Then it will be too late- likely we won't have the funds or ability to put things back and abandonment comes, whether we like it, or not.

Anonymous said...

It's ridiculous and dangerous we have a mayor of the most at risk metropolitan area in North America who doesn't "believe" in climate change. Gimenez and the County Commission are putting our future at risk.