Every state has its natural perils. The Sunshine State is known as the
lightning capital of the country and the most hurricane-prone state in the nation. We have sweltering summer heat and humidity. Sinkholes swallow our homes. Gators swallow our pets.
Still people come here in droves, attracted to our sunny skies, warm winter
weather and beautiful beaches. Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation. But that could mean real trouble down the road as another, bigger threat looms.
According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Florida,
with its extensive coastlines, is the state with the most to lose when it comes to
rising sea levels and tidal flooding which occurs during high tide events such as a
full or new moon.
In one scenario, Florida’s sea levels could rise almost two feet by 2045. That
would mean about 64,000 residential properties – $26 billion in current market
value – would be chronically inundated with flood waters an average of 26 times
a year or more.
By 2100, sea levels could rise to over six feet, chronically flooding 1 million
residential properties in Florida valued at about $351 billion, according to the report.
The report used real estate information from Zillow and three sea level scenarios
developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to
obtain its data.
Though all coastal areas are in jeopardy, some of the areas most affected will be the Tampa Bay area, the Florida Keys, and South Florida, the report stated.
As the tides rise, values will sink as properties become uninhabitable,
uninsurable, or unsellable. Governments will struggle to pay for damaged infrastructure like roads, bridges, airports and public buildings, all as the tax base shrinks. Renters and homeowners will be displaced. All major industries will
be affected including banking, insurance, construction and investment.
Cities around the country are already experiencing king tides in their streets and
low-lying areas. These are the highest tides of the year, coinciding with full moons during spring and fall – and a bellwether of what’s to come.
Last year saw record tidal flooding on city streets, according to the National
Climate Report prepared by NOAA. This year, tidal flooding on the U.S. coastline
is projected to be double what it was 30 years ago. This is due to long-term sea level rise and, in part, by El Nino conditions that could develop later this year.
Most scientists agree that climate change leading to melting ice and rising
sea levels is man-made and that something needs to be done sooner rather than later.
Decision makers and government leaders need to start making plans now
• drastically reduce carbon emissions
• incentivizing clean market economies
• coordinating efforts to protect our
• addressing the flow of water
• planning future communities so they
won’t be in harm’s way
Sea level rise will affect us all and benefit no one. Write your legislators today
and let them know how you feel. 2045 is only 27 years away. Your children and
grandchildren are depending on you.
Terri Bryce Reeves
“They keep saying that sea levels are rising an’ all this. It’s not to do with the
icebergs melting, it’s because there’s too many fish in it. Get rid of some of
the fish and the water will drop. Simple. Basic science.”
~ Karl Pilkington, comedian, The Ricky Gervais Show