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The New Yorker: As sea levels rise, disaster scenario unfolding in Miami Beach

Jacob Escobedo/The New Yorker



If you thought The New Yorker's story about what would happen if an earthquake were to rattle the Northwest was unsettling (and it was), wait until you read this week's story about Miami Beach.

In "The Siege of Miami", staff writer Elizabeth Kolbert writes about a problem that we know all too well: The daily high water mark has been rising almost an inch a year in the Miami area. To compensate, the city of Miami Beach has spent a hundred million dollars, with many more planned. Hal Wanless, the chairman of the University of Miami's geological-sciences department, dismissed the city's efforts, according to Kolbert.

Such efforts are, in Wanless's view, so much money down the drain. Sooner or later-and probably sooner-the city will have too much water to deal with. Even before that happens, Wanless believes, insurers will stop selling policies on the luxury condos that line Biscayne Bay. Banks will stop writing mortgages.

"If we don't plan for this," he told me, once we were in the car again, driving toward the Fontainebleau hotel, "these are the new Okies." I tried to imagine Ma and Pa Joad heading north, their golf bags and espresso machine strapped to the Range Rover.

It's a powerful article that spotlights how Florida's political leaders, Gov. Rick Scott, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, have responded by pretty much avoiding the subject of climate change.

Kolbert writes: "The level of disconnect from reality is pretty profound," Jeff Goodell, a journalist who's working on a book on the impacts of sea-level rise, told me. "We're sort of used to that in the climate world. But in Florida there are real consequences. The water is rising right now."

For a good jolt of urgency that applies to Tampa Bay, check it out.

[Last modified: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 9:52am]


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