Sunday, June 23, 2013

"Miami, as we Know It Today, is Doomed"

I hold no opinion on what type of significant climatological changes may occur over coming decades. In my view, the climate is an extremely complex system and most who are warning about the dangers of changes in climate have no true understanding of climate.

That said, it is fascinating to contemplate what will happen to Miami if sea levels rise by a few feet.

 Jeff Goodell in Rolling Stone writes:
South Florida has two big problems. The first is its remarkably flat topography. Half the area that surrounds Miami is less than five feet above sea level. Its highest natural elevation, a limestone ridge that runs from Palm Beach to just south of the city, averages a scant 12 feet. With just three feet of sea-level rise, more than a third of southern Florida will vanish; at six feet, more than half will be gone; if the seas rise 12 feet, South Florida will be little more than an isolated archipelago surrounded by abandoned buildings and crumbling overpasses. And the waters won’t just come in from the east – because the region is so flat, rising seas will come in nearly as fast from the west too, through the Everglades.

Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. “Imagine Swiss cheese, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like,” says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. “Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here,” says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas.

I hasten to add that this doomsday scenario fails to consider any new technologies that may develop to counter rising sea levels. Recently, peak oil theorists were warning about dwindling oil production, only to be hit in the face with technologies such as  fracking and shale oil extraction that have boosted oil production dramatically, especially in the US.

Malthusian type fear mongers tend to hold all factors constant except for the doomsday factor, when they make their caes.. The world is much more complex than this and man's creativity, when allowed to develop in a free market environment, often results in solutions that no one anticipated just a few years back. The best solution to the Miami climbing sea level threat is to allow independent actors to try and develop solutions to the threats they foresee. If no solutions are developed and the threat develops, people will leave Miami in plenty of time.


  1. OMG! Did you know Michigan was covered with ice 14,000 (not 14 million) years ago and you could have walked to Canada 7,000 years ago? (there's no longer a land connection between Michigan and Canada)

    I'm just so worried I can't sleep.

  2. Every driveway in Miami has a boat on a trailer. Think Venice with Evinrudes.