ClearWorld September 2017 - Page 6

5

Until Irma struck, we had never seen rivers of water running through downtown Miami’s Brickell Avenue. And, to be sure, there is a global warming phenomenon that is turning weather events increasingly more extreme, despite President Donald Trump’s irresponsible claim that climate change is a “hoax.”

The growing intensity of recent hurricanes Harvey and Irma is only the latest reminder that climate change is real. Even before Irma, there were warning signs — including the sight of sea creatures in flooded Miami Beach streets.

Miami’s average elevation is six feet above sea level, and the projected rise of the sea level — barring successful human efforts to reduce carbon emissions that accelerate global warming — will be two feet by 2060, and seven feet by 2100, according to the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact, an advisory council set up by South Florida county governments.

These and other projections have led to apocalyptic headlines about Miami. A recent column headline on BusinessInsider.com screamed, “Scientists say Miami could cease to exist in our children’s lifetime.”

Well, not so fast. To begin with, even in the worst case scenario — the unlikely possibility that we continue to have U.S. presidents who deny climate change and don’t do anything to combat it — coastal cities like Miami and New York won’t disappear. They will have to spend more money to buy water pumps and elevate roads, and will become more expensive to live in, but they won’t cease to exist.

Venice, Italy, the city of canals, has some of the highest real estate prices in Italy. And Venice’s most coveted properties are the palazzos facing the water, which get flooded several times a year. Holland, too, is a country under water, and has somehow managed to thrive.

Secondly, there will be new technologies and new building regulations to fight rising sea levels. Just like building codes changed after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and helped prevent greater damage from extreme weather events nowadays, technology will produce more efficient water pumps, valves and sea walls.

Engineers are also talking about floating roads, and even floating homes in flood-prone areas. Others are discussing creation of parking lots under sand dunes to act as powerful sea walls. Kenneth Broad, a University of Miami environmental expert, is among those who fear that higher taxes to pay for climate change adaptation plans could make Miami a city where only the rich will be able to live.

Will Miami disappear under the rising sea? Here’s why it won’t