Friday, October 25, 2013

Is Miami, Florida Doomed?

(Photo courtesy of NOAA)

"By century's end, rising sea levels will turn the nation's urban fantasyland into an American Atlantis. But long before the city is completely underwater, chaos will begin."

We do nee to start thinking about coastal forecasting scenarios that may be unpalatable and even horrifying but should be part of the toolbox if ideas that we need to explore. Here is a scenario from the Rolling Stone article on Miami:

"When the water receded after Hurricane Milo of 2030, there was a foot of sand covering the famous bow-tie floor in the lobby of the Fontaine­bleau hotel in Miami Beach. A dead manatee floated in the pool where Elvis had once swum. Most of the damage occurred not from the hurricane's 175-mph winds, but from the 24-foot storm surge that overwhelmed the low-lying city. In South Beach, the old art-deco­ buildings were swept off their foundations. Mansions on Star Island were flooded up to their cut-glass doorknobs. A 17-mile stretch of Highway A1A that ran along the famous beaches up to Fort Lauderdale disappeared into the Atlantic. The storm knocked out the wastewater-treatment plant on Virginia Key, forcing the city to dump hundreds of millions of gallons of raw sewage into Biscayne Bay. Tampons and condoms littered the beaches, and the stench of human excrement stoked fears of cholera. More than 800 people died, many of them swept away by the surging waters that submerged much of Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale; 13 people were killed in traffic accidents as they scrambled to escape the city after the news spread – falsely, it turned out – that one of the nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, an aging power plant 24 miles south of Miami, had been destroyed by the surge and sent a radioactive cloud over the city."
"In 110 years, Miami as we know it will be a nearly ruined, flooded wasteland thanks to rising sea levels. That's one of the hypotheses of University of Washington professor and popular science writer Peter D. Ward's latest book, The Flooded Earth. The introductory chapter is titled "Miami Beached," and it's an apocalyptic vision of Miami succumbed to a ten-foot rise in sea level. The particulars of Ward's Miami nightmare are a thing of fiction, but the threat of a major rise in sea level wrecking the city, he says, is an unstoppable fact." Read More at Miami NewTimes 

"The Flooded Earth: Our Future In a World Without Ice Caps" is a frightening book to be sure but we cannot ingnore the projections from scientists and futurologists. Here is what Peter ward has to say: 

"Sea level rise will happen no matter what we do. Even if we stopped all carbon dioxide emissions today, the seas would rise one meter by 2050 and three meters by 2100. This—not drought, species extinction, or excessive heat waves—will be the most catastrophic effect of global warming. And it won’t simply redraw our coastlines—agriculture, electrical and fiber optic systems, and shipping will be changed forever. As icebound regions melt, new sources of oil, gas, minerals, and arable land will be revealed, as will fierce geopolitical battles over who owns the rights to them."

It is good to at least take into account the potential extremes of what might happen if global warming continues on the trajectory on which it is set.


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