Home Science Climate Change South Florida’s Nightmare Scenario for Sea Level Rise

South Florida’s Nightmare Scenario for Sea Level Rise

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Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

Here’s what you need to know about Sea Level Rise in South Florida:

  • Coral Gables Mayor Jim Cason sat in his office and wondered when climate change  would bring it all to an end. He figured it would involve a boat.
  • he asked his staff to count how much coastline the city had (47 miles) and value of the property along that coast ($3.5 billion).
  • how many boats dock inland from the bridges that span the city’s canals (302).

    The problem will be when the first time a mast fails to clear the bottom of one of those bridges because the water level had risen too far.

  • “These boats are going to be the canary in the mine,” said Cason
  • When the boats can’t go out, the property values go down.”
  • If property values start to fall, Cason said, banks could stop writing 30-year mortgages for coastal homes, shrinking the pool of able buyers and sending prices lower still.
  • Those properties make up a quarter of the city’s tax base; if that revenue fell, the city would struggle to provide basic services
  • And all of that could happen before the rising sea consumes a single home.
  • Relative sea levels in South Florida are roughly four inches higher now than in 1992.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts sea levels will rise as much as three feet in Miami by 2060.

    By the end of the century, according to projections by Zillow, some 934,000 existing Florida properties, worth more than $400 billion, are at risk of being submerged.

  • Tidal flooding now predictably drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s porous limestone bedrock
  • Saltwater is creeping into the drinking water supply.
  • The area’s drainage canals rely on gravity; as oceans rise, the water utility has had to install giant pumps to push water out to the ocean.
  • force the federal government to decide what is owed to people whose home values are ruined by climate change.
  • Sean Becketti, the chief economist at Freddie Mac, warned in a report last year of a housing crisis for coastal areas more severe than the Great Recession, one that could spread through banks, insurers and other industries.
  • South Florida’s real estate market as “pessimists selling to optimists,”
  • Key Largo in 2015, the big fall tides brought 18 inches of water onto the road
  • “When people would drive, it creates a wake,” said Russo. “That knocks over all the garbage cans, and then everybody’s garbage is floating in the streets, and in the mangroves.
  • Officials in Monroe County agree there’s a problem, and plan to raise some roads in an attempt to reduce future flooding.
  • The next black swan is the failure of housing finance to take climate change into account
  • There will be a large number of homes that will lose substantial value, and will default on mortgages, if nothing is done to help them.
  • There is as yet no federal policy on buying out properties that will be lost to sea-level rise
  • President Barack Obama’s administration awarded $48 million to relocate a small Louisiana town sinking into the Gulf of Mexico, the first such project funded by the federal government.
  • Laura Reynolds is the former executive director of the Tropical Audubon Society, Miami’s oldest environmental group
  • “The future of our coastline is completely doomed,” Reynolds said. “The question is, how long will we have?”

Learn more @ Bloomberg

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