Panama City Editorial Facing reality on rising sea levels
As the Panama City News Herald reports
This discussion must happen now in Florida. Because as one of the most vulnerable states in the nation. It can’t afford to wait.
There was a time, in the not-so-distant past. All when intelligent people could debate the progression and consequences of global climate change. When they could argue that rising sea levels were just a cyclical phenomenon that posed no threat to humans. As well as no barrier to those who wanted to develop in flood plains and ever-closer to the ocean.
Particularly for Floridians, those days are behind us now. The focus has shifted. So now the questions are now a matter of degree: Which properties are likely to be affected by sea-level rise? How much taxpayer money should governments pour into efforts to protect structures along Florida’s coast. And when plus how should the government discourage things. I mean further building in the areas projected to be most vulnerable?
Many of these questions have answers that state and national officials don’t want to hear. One recent example: A study released in June suggests that, within the next 20 years, Florida will face a $76 billion cost just to protect existing structures against encroaching waters.
The sea level around Florida is up to 8 inches higher than it was in 1950.1 | 2This increase is mostly due to ice melting into the ocean and, complicated by the porous limestone that the state sits on, it’s causing major issues. Many traditional methods to solve for sea level rise and flooding in Florida won’t work, because water can flow through the porous ground, up from below, and under sea walls. In Miami-Dade County, the groundwater levels in some places are not high enough relative to the rising sea levels, which has allowed saltwater to intrude into the drinking water and compromised sewage plants. There are already 120,000 properties at risk from frequent tidal flooding inFlorida.3The state is planning over $4 billion in sea level rise solutions, which include protecting sewage systems, raising roads, stormwater improvements, and seawalls.
Sea level rise is speeding up
The sea level around Virginia Key, Florida, has risen by 8 inches since 1950. Its speed of rise has accelerated over the last ten years and it’s now rising by 1 inch every 3years.2Scientists know this because sea levels are measured every 6 minutes using equipment like satellites, floating buoys off the coast, and tidal gauges to accurately measure the local sea level as it accelerates andchanges.