1. Florida

People are using FaceApp to talk about climate change in Florida

How will you look in 40 years? How about how will the Earth look in 40 years? People took to social media to discuss this week.
Hartmut Liebel , 49, from St. Petersburg, walks his dog Pete (named for St. Pete) as water laps at the sea wall at Demens Landing in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD |  Times (2012)
Hartmut Liebel , 49, from St. Petersburg, walks his dog Pete (named for St. Pete) as water laps at the sea wall at Demens Landing in St. Petersburg. DIRK SHADD | Times (2012)
Published Jul. 19, 2019

If you’ve been on the Internet at all this week, you’ve probably seen FaceApp, a mobile app that offers a glimpse at what you might look like in old age.

But talk on social media quickly turned to the future of our planet. What will the Earth look like in 40 years? And, perhaps more presciently, how much of it will be underwater?

Sea level rise projections show that the Tampa Bay area could see between 1.9 and 8.5 feet of sea level rise by 2100, according to a presentation from the Tampa Bay Climate Science Advisory Panel.

In St. Petersburg, $7 billion worth of property is under 5 feet above sea level, including more than 27,000 homes, 31 medical facilities, 12 government buildings and five schools. In Tampa, that number is $4.9 billion, threatening 8,300 homes, 10 medical facilities and four houses of worship.

A new report indicates that Florida may have to spend more than any other state in the country to build protective seawalls guarding against sea level rise. The state could stand to spend as much as $76 billion by 2040. That’s probably young by FaceApp’s standards.

In Florida cities with small populations and a high threat of sea level rise, like Islamorada and St. George Island, seawall construction comes out to almost $1 billion per person.

Some organizations, like the United Nations’ Climate Change, are already using FaceApp as a way to remind followers about the impending impacts of climate change.

At the Tampa Bay Times, we have joined with a group of Florida newsrooms to cover climate change through a partnership.

“Florida is ground zero for the effects of sea rise,” wrote our executive editor Mark Katches in a column introducing the initiative. “It may be the most important subject of our time. Our new partnership represents just one creative way we can keep readers better informed on topics that matter.”

Some on Twitter took a more nihilistic tone. After all, some of them asked, will we even be here long enough to see ourselves look this old?


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