Sea-level rise is the inevitable, non-debatable consequence of the warming of the oceans and the melting of the planet’s ice sheets.
It is a measurable, trackable and relentless reality. Without innovative planning, it will threaten trillions of dollars of the region’s buildings and roads, its water supply, natural resources, agriculture and overall economy.
A May 8 editorial written for “The Invading Sea” media collaborative called for a national disaster fund to help spread the risk and motivate private insurers. Like FEMA, it would be a much-needed source of money to help people recover from natural disasters.
The members of the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact are working together to reduce the threat of chronic flooding in the region. The compact estimates that sea level will rise about 2 feet by 2060.
In Miami-Dade County, the mayor and county commissioners are continuing to build an impressive resiliency team to work with our partners to produce a comprehensive strategy and plan.
We need a robust plan to reinvent our urban infrastructure in a timely, sequenced manner. It will be very costly, but with nearly $7 trillion in the region’s built environment, it’s an indispensable investment in our future.
With so much at stake, why not be pro-active as well? I believe that a Federal Resiliency Partnership Fund that would partner with communities that are on the forefront of developing adaptive solutions makes sense.
— Provide a far-reaching proactive “damage prevention initiative” that would help to reduce or even avoid crushing financial pressure on FEMA’s damage compensation fund on the back end.
— Accelerate the development of adaptation “success models” that could be deployed to similarly situated localities elsewhere.
— Spur a redesign and modernization of the nation’s deteriorating urban and rural infrastructure, which is needed regardless of the threat from sea-level rise.
— Provide a “jobs program” that would substantially enhance our economy at all levels.
Both the National League of Cities and the National Association of Counties have endorsed this idea and included it as a Legislative priority
At some point, the public will need to be asked to supply the local matching money to support this effort. Having an inter-governmental funding partnership will be critical to making a successful case at the ballot box.
With positive commitment and a collective belief in ourselves, I am convinced that we can optimistically imagine and build a future South Florida that will continue to forge its emerging status as a vibrant and resilient World Class Region.
Harvey Ruvin is the Miami-Dade County Clerk of Courts. He chaired the Miami-Dade Task Force on Sea Level Rise.
“The Invading Sea” is a collaboration of four South Florida media organizations — the South Florida Sun Sentinel, Miami Herald, Palm Beach Post and WLRN Public Media.