Millions of people living in South Florida could be forced to move, it the coastal waters keep rising as predicted. While this news is not old, it is happening at an alarming rate and people are already seeing and dealing with the damages of the rising waters. There are four counties in South Florida that would be hit the hardest: Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, and Lee. It is believed that in those four counties alone, over 521,000 people will be affected, according to LiveScience.com.
Jason Evans, an ecologist from the Stetson University and one of the three writers who conducted the study in the Nature Climate Change Journal, said, “In terms of sheer number of people living in harm’s way [South Florida] is way at the top basically. It just pops out.”
Jason believes that state and local officials, especially those in South Florida’s counties of Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, and Lee, need to make stronger rules on the growth in the area.
“You’ve got to give permits to build in a vulnerable area and local governments are going to have a responsibility to protect them. Counties and cities need to look at their vulnerabilities and be thinking, hmm, in 30 years what kind of infrastructure am I going to be maintaining. I’ve lived in Florida my whole life and there’s been a long history of short-sighted decisions. So what we need to recognize is as we make those decisions, there are costs.”
The authors who conducted the study in Nature Climate Change wrote, “Population projections are not a panacea for these problems, but they move us towards evaluating the potential [sea level rise] impacts on the future.”
It is not just houses that will be affected, but the whole infrastructure that will need to be redone and and reinforced, especially in one main area of focus which is the power grid to protect their drinking water supplies. Then there are the people wanting to build property, including homes, hotels, and businesses, in the flooding area and along the beachfront, who will need to consider a plan of action for later years. They will need to “balance the cost of staying or retreating.”
According to the study, “We find that a 2100 (sea level rise) of 0.9 meters places a land area projected to house 4.2 million people at risk of inundation, whereas 1.8 meters affects 13.1 million people —approximately three times larger than indicated by current populations,” the study said.
Right now, the four counties of South Florida, Miami-Dade, Broward, Pinellas, and Lee, is the focus of their attention because over 2.4 million people chose to live by the high-tide line, and they built 1.3 million homes in that area. In fact, according to Climate Central, these people live only four feet away from the local high tide line and they are in real danger. The blame for the rising ocean waters is put on global warming, but to many others like the indigenous people living in the northern regions of the world who study the sky in order to survive believe that that earth has tilted or “wobbled “on its axis. The Inuit elders all agree on one thing, and that is that “their sky has changed.”
Since 1880, records show that the sea level has gone up 8 inches. If it continues to go up another six inches, as the current studies indicate could happen within the next 20 years, South Florida’s flood control would be devastated.
According to Climate Central, “In South Florida, taxpayers are already paying the price for climate change as salt-water pushes through porous bedrock into coastal drinking-water supplies, and rivers and canals choked by heavy rains have a harder time draining into the ocean.”
The director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University, Leonard Berry, told PBS. “This is not a future problem. It’s a current problem.”
Henry Briceño, a water-quality researcher at Florida International University, told the Globe, “Sooner or later, this city, as you see it right now, won’t be like this. Miami and the whole of South Florida is not going to be like this any more. So we have to develop a way to plan and supply services in a changing scenario, and that’s not easy. And then, sooner or later, we’ll have to move. Most of the population will have to move.”
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