By Ban Ki-moon and Francis Suarez
New York Times
Climate change is not a distant threat for Miami; it’s a daily presence in people’s lives. The city has been fighting to stay above water for decades. It knows that its future as a vibrant international hub for business, tourism, arts and culture depends on making the city more resilient to the impact of global warming.
That’s why the city of Miami is moving aggressively to adapt; in 2017, its citizens voted to tax themselves to build resilience against flooding and storm surges by approving a $400 million bond issue that is financing projects across the city.
Miami is not alone, of course, in facing these threats. Around the globe, some 800 million people in hundreds of coastal cities are at risk from storm surges and rising seas. We want to share what we have learned in building resilience against the changing climate.
From ground level, greater Miami looks like any American megacity—a mostly dry expanse of buildings, roads, and lawns, sprinkled with the occasional canal or ornamental lake. But from above, the proportions of water and land are reversed. The glimmering metropolis between Biscayne Bay and the Everglades reveals itself to be a thin lattice of earth and concrete laid across a puddle that never stops forming. Water seeps up through the gravel under construction sites, nibbles at the edges of fresh subdivisions, and shimmers through the cracks and in-between places of the city above it.
Miami-Dade is built on the Biscayne Aquifer, 4,000 square miles of unusually shallow and porous limestone whose tiny air pockets are filled with rainwater and rivers running from the swamp to the ocean. The aquifer and the infrastructure that draws from it, cleans its water, and keeps it from overrunning the city combine to form a giant but fragile machine. Without this abundant source of fresh water, made cheap by its proximity to the surface, this hot, remote city could become uninhabitable.
Study suggests mid-Atlantic is getting lower, which may exacerbate effects of sea-level rise
The Harvard Gazette
In the coming decades, cities and towns up and down the eastern seaboard will have to come to terms with the impact of rising sea level due to climate change. A new study, however, is suggesting that rising sea levels may be only part of the picture — because the land along the coast is also sinking.
That’s the key finding of Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences Peter Huybers, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science Jerry Mitrovica, and Christopher Piecuch, an assistant scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who used everything from tide gauges to GPS data to paint the most accurate picture ever of sea-level rise along the east coast of the U.S. The researchers are co-authors of the study, recently published in Nature.
The News & Observer
Surprising to me, the French are ahead of the United States, and particularly ahead of North Carolina’s policies on preparation for the rising sea’s impact.
In the early morning hours of Feb. 28, 2010 a massive storm named Xynthia, the largest in memory for most of the local people, struck the coast of France. Fifty seven people died, some drowning in their beds and others being trapped in their houses. Having learned a critical lesson, the French started a program, perhaps the first in the world, focused on relocation of buildings back from the shorefront.
The French minister of the environment set the stage saying, “We need to act now to save the coastline of tomorrow.”
In close consultation with the communities involved, the new French program has identified communities at high risk, and recommended actions to be taken.
Actions include moving buildings back, demolition of buildings at risk, prohibition of construction of new buildings, and in some cases even prohibiting modifications to existing buildings. After Xynthia, at least 30 already-granted beachfront construction permits were revoked.
“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.