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Human intelligence is highly overrated. Let's take a trip to Florida for a little proof.

Florida is vulnerable to any rise in sea level. The mere 6-7 inches seas rose during the 20th century are already causing coastal erosion and storm drainage flooding. You can see video footage of beach erosion on March 11 from a nothing special storm here.

Another 2-3 feet over the 21st century would be catastrophic, particularly in heavily populated South Florida. Everyone agrees on the basic parameters of the issues. The following graph shows the trajectory of sea level rise in South Florida based on historical trend data (blue line) and on current projection data used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (orange shaded area). Sea level rise during the last half of the 20th century was 1.7 mm yr. By contrast, sea level rise during the first decade of the 21st century was 3.1 mm yr, consistent with the lower bound estimate used by the USACE.

 photo FinalUnifiedSLRProjection_zpsaee97b79.jpg

Here are humans who are beginning to see rapid changes associated with climate change. Let's watch how they behave. (By the way, there will be a test at the end of the discussion.)

Officials in the Miami-Dade area have been engaged in intense discussions over how to update an aging sewer system that backs up water in residential areas with routine storms (let's call them storms-of-the-month during the rainy season). After 10 months of negotiation, they opted for spending $1.5 billion on upgrades. Here are some of the larger pieces of the project.

Miami Beach last year approved a $206 million overhaul of an aging drainage system increasingly compromised by rising seas. Just another foot of sea-rise, possible within 20 years, could worsen high-tide street flooding there. It also would inundate much of coastal South Miami-Dade, leaving a sewage plant adjacent to the dump called Mount Trashmore, as well as Turkey Point nuclear power plant, virtual islands.

[. . .]

Of particular concern: a nearly $600 million reconstruction of the trouble-prone plant on Virginia Key, where four spills over just three months in 2011 dumped some 19 million gallons of waste water into Biscayne Bay.

Miami Herald, March 9, article by Curtis Morgan

The upgrades do not include recommendations to make the facilities "climate ready" for changes likely during their 50-year life expectancy.
Yet after 10 months of negotiations between agencies, the sewer plan doesn’t contain a word about dealing with flooding tides or the sort of storm surge that devastated the Northeast during Hurricane Sandy. No calls for sea walls, elevated separating tanks, stronger casks for pressurized liquid chlorine or other “armoring” measures.
The article goes on to discuss the controversy over how to upgrade a system that already cannot handle current climate conditions. The moral of the story is that the impacts of climate change on infrastructure are going to be exceptionally expensive, particularly when our current public officials refuse to plan for the most likely future impacts.

Another climate impact that will devastate the Florida economy in the near future comes from rising ocean acidification and temperature. Both are harming plankton and coral populations in the area. Without these foundational elements, the aquatic ecosystem food chain begins to collapse and with it go businesses dependent on them.

Recreational saltwater fishing alone has long been a boon to Florida's economy. A recently released National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) economic report shows that in 2011, saltwater fishing on the east coast of Florida generated 29,000 jobs and $3.3 billion in sales. But the sustainability of those sought-after fish is dependent upon the plants and animals at the base of the food chain, and at that level, things are looking a bit grim.

WLRN, March 11, article by Tricia Woolfenden

However, the impacts on human infrastructure from the collapse of coral populations are likely to be even greater. Coral reefs provide a major storm surge buffer.

If coral reefs decline or disappear, not only would the crustaceans, tropical and game fish vanish, but human residents could expect to see major changes in the South Florida coastline. Right now, coral reefs help to "block" some of the water from getting to shore and buffer some of the effects of hurricanes; both are necessary features, given that many Florida beaches lack the substantial sand dunes needed to prevent breach erosion.
The combined threats from rising sea levels, acidification, and water temperature are going to pummel South Florida coastal infrastructure and its economy in the near future.

Ready for your test? Several structures were mentioned as being threatened by a small rise in sea level in the excerpt from the Miami Herald story. Without looking back, which one has the potential for catastrophic failure? Come on, think.

Give up? See if you can spot it now.

It also would inundate much of coastal South Miami-Dade, leaving a sewage plant adjacent to the dump called Mount Trashmore, as well as Turkey Point nuclear power plant, virtual islands.
Good thing there has never been a disaster where sea water flooded nuclear reactors.

Action Request: Please support the listing of the two most threatened coral species, the elkhorn coral and staghorn coral, as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is requesting public comments from now through April 6.



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Thanks, as all of this helps build the Climate Change movement as well as introducing critically important ideas about renewable sources of energy.

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Comment Preferences

  •  warming world stripping the 4 seasons (7+ / 0-)

    Warming World Is Stripping the Future of 'Four Seasons'
    'If we don't curb carbon emissions, Arctic Sweden might be more like the south of France by the end of the century.'

    http://www.commondreams.org/...

    world wide issue

    •  It's an okay article, BUT...... (0+ / 0-)

      I just don't see Umea or Kiruna(both cities in Arctic Sweden, by the way), getting the climate of Marseilles or Liguria even in the worst case mainstream temperature scenarios(4-4.5*C by 2100, according to the most recent studies).....Paris or Munich may not be so farfetched, though.....at least in the worst case.

  •  can't hide rising water as state secret (6+ / 0-)

    whistle blowers like Bradley Manning are facing possible life in prison

    his trial shows how much the 1% wants to hide what the government is doing in our name

    backing up sewers can't be hidden by legal means

    the climate is the major global issue and the 1% are extracting more resources from the earth and the people as rapidly as possible

    because climate is a slow moving emergency, it has taken decades for the effects to be undeniable

    now it is too late because the damage has been done

    but not too late to stop the 1% before civilization ceases to exist

    or maybe too late for that as well

    •  In the South Florida case, nothing is hidden (8+ / 0-)

      Everyone seems to agree there is a serious problem, but cannot agree on how to address it. The result is a weak response that will kick the crisis down the road a few decades.

      It does feel like there is a veritable orgy of fossil fuels extraction going on right now. One part global demand and one part greed.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 07:44:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  politicians cannot hide out much longer (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Oldestsonofasailor

        with sewer back ups going on and on, the issue cannot be "swept" under the rug

        the canary in the coal mine has spoken

        climate change can drive the whole state under water, both figuratively and literally

        since finance has been driving the country for so many years, the financial crisis from climate change will make change a necessity

        Bill McKibben lives in a beautiful valley in Vermont. For 30 years they have been developing sustained agriculture and making many other env moves. But a huge rain storm a couple of years ago washed away tons of soil.

        the lesson is that the local is now the global

        •  Sweeping under the rug will go on... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Don midwest

          With great ease due to the amount of denial going on about Climate Change, especially in Florida...

          In a recent conversation with a "Severely TeaBagged Climate Change Denier" who lives in South Florida, I asked him, "So what if this climate change is really true and the sea level does rise, how will this impact you?" He replied, "My property is high enough that it won't be impacted."

          Considering south of Orlando the land is fairly level and low-lying with a few vistas that may reach 50 - 100' in elevation, I wish I could share his blind optimism...

          I suppose when the time comes he'll be ready to do as any  Good TeaBagger would do and hold his hand out for some of that "Gubermint Money" as his home on a rapidly shrinking island is poised to go under water. Or, his property which somehow moved closer to the ocean is wiped clean by a storm surge, and he needs that "FEMA Trailer."

          In the mean time, it's "Drill Baby Drill!"

          "Do you realize the responsibility I carry?
          I'm the only person standing between Richard Nixon and the White House."
          ~John F. Kennedy~

          -7.5,-5.8

          by Oldestsonofasailor on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 08:50:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DWG

        in your action request, you state "two most coral species,"

        I think you meant "most threatened" ? or "most impacted" ?

        Reforms come from below. No man with four aces howls for a new deal.
        Keystone XL will raise gas prices!

        by Turbonerd on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 08:00:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  One more tidbit from the Miami Herald story (4+ / 0-)

    Florida state regulators now require phasing out of pumping partially treated sewage offshore during major storms. That should add greater impetus to spending the money to relocate the treatment plants farther inland. Instead, Miami-Dade is going to ask for variance that would allow them to divert partially treated waste into deep injection wells so they can maintain existing coastal facilities.

    With the county already under orders from state regulators to phase out the practice of pumping partially treated waste off shore by 2027, they also argue that would sharply reduce the economic advantage of coastal plants. But Yoder said Miami-Dade intends to ask Florida lawmakers for leeway and has plans to convert Virginia Key to deep-well disposal underground if necessary.

    Be radical in your compassion.

    by DWG on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 07:52:18 AM PDT

  •  Paul Gilding, ex-director of Greenpeace, (5+ / 0-)

    predicts that it will be the economic impacts that cause us do a 180 and hit the accelerator to address Climate Reality. He thinks THIS decade.

    I hope he's right in terms of doing the 180, at least.

    The Great Disruption bk cover

    One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

    by Words In Action on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 07:58:31 AM PDT

    •  I hope he is right (3+ / 0-)

      I loved the book. We read for our local sustainability book club. However, I have a hard time believing that the current crop of Republicans is going to have any sort of epiphany, particularly in the coming decade. Romney and the rest of the pack ran on climate change denial in 2012. Romney mocked the issue throughout the campaign to large cheers.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 08:11:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and frankly, I think he's being (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        DWG

        optimistic because that opens doors for him, so he can continue to discuss the situation with the plutocracy, to continue to prod them into realizing that responding is in their best interest, including their best financial interest, which he does a day job.

        Pretty sure deep down he knows it's a long shot.

        One of the major differences between Democrats and Republicans is that the former have the moral imagination to see the moral dimension of financial affairs, while the latter do not. Some pragmatists are exceptions.

        by Words In Action on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 03:59:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not wrong with hope (when tempered with realism) (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Words In Action

          Paul Ryan's new budget demands opening virtually all federal land to leasing for oil and gas exploration, all with the vague promise that doing so will bring jobs and cheap energy. Until people can see through that nonsense and reject it out of hand, I cannot see us making even a small turn, much less a 180 degree one.

          Be radical in your compassion.

          by DWG on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 06:00:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The ocean was coming up (4+ / 0-)

    though the storm drains on my street this morning (new moon).  Another six inches and the street will be flooding at high tide pretty much year-round.

    And no, I don't own - I rent.  I love being this close to the ocean, but only a fool would buy at this location.

    “What’s the use of having developed a science well enough to make predictions if, in the end, all we’re willing to do is stand around and wait for them to come true?” - Sherwood Rowland

    by jrooth on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 08:17:48 AM PDT

    •  You are doing the smart thing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, jrooth

      Enjoy it now and leave when the water becomes a problem.

      I noticed in the Miami Herald story that a lot of building has taken place in the past decade in some of lowest lying areas of South Florida. Sad and stupid at the same time.

      Be radical in your compassion.

      by DWG on Tue Mar 12, 2013 at 08:56:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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