Throughout the report, the researchers discuss two scenarios; the first, known as “rapid stabilization”, is the most optimistic scenario in which global emissions decrease at least 50% by 2050 and U.S. emissions decline at least 80% by the same period. The second scenario, referred to as “business-as-usual”, is a pessimistic scenario that projects the damages to our state if we continue to take little action.
Some of the reports noteworthy conclusions in the “business-as-usual scenario”:
- Within vulnerable zones:
- residential real estate now valued at over $130 billion
- half of Florida’s beaches
- 99% of Mangroves
- Sea level could rise by as much as 23” by 2050 and 45” by 2100
- 70% of Miami-Dade would be under water
- 99.6% of Monroe would be under water
- The Everglades would be almost completely inundated by salt water, and effectively destroyed
- Heat waves will become more severe and more common, with new record temperatures and a gradual decline in nighttime cooling. The average heat index in summer will increase by 15-20% in much of the state. Miami will become several degrees warmer than Bangkok (probably the world’s hottest, most humid major city today) and daily highs in many Florida cities will exceed 90 degrees Fahrenheit for nearly 2/3 or the year.
- Annual statewide economic losses (that’s right…this is per year)
- $92 billion by 2050
- $345 billion by 2100
“The highly porous limestone and sand substrate of Miami-Dade County (which at present permits excellent drainage) will limit the effectiveness of widespread use of levees and dikes to wall off the encroaching sea.”
However, even if levees and dikes did present a viable option for fighting rising sea levels, it would be inordinately expensive to build such infrastructure in a state with over 1,200 miles of coastline (this doesn’t even factor in Lake Okechobee and other vulnerable watersheds).
This is serious business we’re talking about here. If we don’t start taking swift action to fight climate change, we all lose. Environmentalists lose for obvious reasons, business interests suffer as insurance rates skyrocket, tourism declines, and billions of dollars tied up in real estate become threatened. If you’re indifferent, you’ll still suffer from unprecedented heat and humidity, extremely high costs of living due to insurance and energy price hikes, and more frequent major hurricanes that threaten the lives of us all.
This makes the recent vote to move the UDB line all the more disgraceful. If there is any place that should be leading the fight on climate change, it’s South Florida and Miami-Dade County. Few places are as vulnerable geographically and no other region on Earth can lay claim to an ecosystem like the Everglades. However, this hasn’t stopped self-interest and incompetence from making South Florida one of the most sprawling, unsustainable regions in all of North America.
Click here to download the full report, “Florida and Climate Change: The Costs of Inaction”.
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