Jose Regalado serves on the City of Miami Climate Change Task Force.
|Mayor Ana Hidalgo of Paris Addressing Attendees|
I left happy that the world governments agreed on a reduction of Carbon Emissions, but also bitterly disappointed in the process, the representation and the action plans.
I was not an elected official and did not receive clearance to all the meetings however I was representing my father, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado. I have firsthand experience with climate change disasters and understand the repercussions for a culture, economy and environmental sector.
For starters it appears I was the only person from Miami at the conference.As an aside. Carlos Gimenez mentioned in his State of the County address that our solutions have garnered him international praise, which I certainly didn’t hear about in Paris.
The Miami/South Florida area was also labeled at the conference as the area “of primary concern”, with the largest amount of exposed assets and fourth largest population susceptible to sea level rise. In the World.
Let that sink in.
The best part of this event was meeting with other local leaders from around the world and hearing about what their local problems and innovative solutions have garnered them. I was beginning to feel that there was an underlying reason for all the friendliness and 20 questions from every official I met. It was confirmed during the closing party when I felt a tap on my shoulder:
“Are you the guy from Miami? Great to meet you! I am part of a group representing all of the Cities on the Mississippi River, and we are all waiting to hear what Miami’s big plan is!"After my initial shock on being put on the spot, I shot off what I knew, like our hopes of pumps, new architectural plans etc. The questioner was surprised that we weren’t moving the entire city instead.
If you were forgiving, you would think they’re relying on the “ol’American ingenuity” principle; technology will outpace the environment. If you were skeptical, you might think that our local leaders know that sounding the alarm hanging zoning codes and creating new infrastructure would be political suicide. Not to mention the possibility of crashing our housing market with sea level rise with giant insurance and mortgage problems on the horizon.
They would rather puddle jump to greater things or get out before the s--t hits the fan. On the federal side of things, I attended a round table talk that was set up by Pipeline Brickell and hosted by White House Adviser Robert Simon. My take away was about coal. But we don’t have coal plants here, the closest is in Jupiter. Yes he talked about solar and the almost insurmountable evidence of sea level rise. But the Obama administration is focusing on halting coal production, not micro managing our energy monopoly and dismal renewal energy production.
|Jose Regalado at Paris Global Warming/Climate Change Conference|
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But sorting your recycling will not stop the rising tide, just as making one bike lane will not solve our transportation issues. In the past we have reacted to problems when they are at our doorstep, using technological innovation. Whether this will work for Sea Level Rise is a non-issue for me because it is a non-issue for Miami. We are already plagued with flooding and salt water continues to inch its way into our water supply. Our porous limestone geology and inclement weather complicates the traditional solutions that the Netherlands, Louisiana and Italy have used. We are getting no help from the State, so it falls on our hands.
Cities are half of the globes climate equation. We need to take over the reins and move forward. The recently created City of Miami Sea Level Rise Board is amassing a wealth of knowledge and everyone is working hard. I would like to thank Commissioner Francis Suarez for creating it and Commissioner Wilfredo Gort for appointing me.
My personal opinion is that we need to start today, at least with preliminary emergency measures in zoning. We are entering the greatest period of urbanization in the history of humanity and creating small precautionary solutions now will keep those new buildings from exacerbating the problem during a disaster. We also need people to be educated about the issues, it may be dreadful but there is hope. If residents understand the issue they can make this a priority for today and not the next generation. Despite what you may hear in Presidential press conferences, we don’t have fish in our street. However I heard Aventura had them coming up from their storm drains after a particularly hard rain.
|Fish jumping out of storm drain. Birds were feeding on them.|
Video of question asked by Jose in Paris.