Listen and Think 4/27/16

Len Berry Presentation and All Artists Dialogue  (Not a report.  Just my opinion that were also influenced by a talk with Tattfoo Tan on 4/28/16)

Ground and underground of south Florida will be physically damaged by rising seas in this century such that the current relationship between land and people will not function.  Connection by roads will be extremely restricted to higher elevation roadways.  Electrical power and communications on wooden poles will collapse.  Sewage will not flow away.  Health risks from sewage, insects and vermin may increase.  Investment is very unlikely in fresh water lines from central Florida, underground/water electrical, new “sucking” sewage pipes, and hundreds of miles of new levees.

South florida tourism will be reduced to “island resorts” and retirement enclaves will be abandoned.  Police and fire services will be withdrawn from multiple areas.  The tax base and employment opportunities will dwindle away.  Real estate investment will disappear, but rents will drop and many will drop to free (or inhabit at your own risk).

Like the 1926 & then 1928 hurricanes, the decline will start after a series of hurricanes that gives the impression that public and private investment is fruitless and unprofitable.

Perhaps a new waterworld will emerge with “causeways” connecting neighborhoods on stilts, giant rafts, raised land or behind levees.  For centuries, the ground will only be 1 to 10 feet below high tide.

The causeways will hold the cars and fresh water pipes.  Sewage will be processed in the neighborhood and perhaps recycled for drinking.  Electricity will be onsite wind, solar and gas generators with battery storage.  Only inhabited by the richer citizens and their servants.

For most of the 5.7 million people, migration will be the only solution.  Complete protection the land and social/economic structure will not be financed by all the American taxpayers.  Central Florida will become a giant multicultural metropolis.   Orlando will slowly be taken over by Miami.  Unsuspected places like Macon, Georgia, Columbia, South Carolina, Montgomery, Alabama could be become popular relocation areas for south Floridians.  Or Atlanta, Charlotte and other cities will just get bigger.

My temptation is to say, “forget the investments in beach renourishments, seawalls, huge pumping systems and fresh water lines from central Florida – just start the migration now.”    But this attitude is unfair and unrealistic.  People will want to hold on – to property, employment and social networks of all types.  For most people, their wealth is their land/home.  They will stay until the situation is seemly impossible or the social networks have been re-established in another place.

The leaders of south Florida and the nation have a responsibility to provide the time for people to find another life somewhere else.  The gentle migration.

What investments can be made to delay the impacts, not prevent the impacts of sea level rise. Not the DUTCH solution, but……the EGYPTIAN solution.  Not dikes, but controlled flooding.   Not the gated suburbs, but elevated villages. Not regional infrastructure, but village independence of on-site power, sewage and water.  Select the roads for elevation.  Select the parks, golf courses, former shopping malls for water retention.

Of course the old problem of “who gets saved” will raise its ethical and political head.   On the west side of the coastal ridge (FEC railroad line), our poorer citizens are living in the low land – a good place for new flood plains (But not really under threat). The riskiest places for living are inhabited by the richer citizens on the coast and at the western levees.

End of writing for now.





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