April 18, 2016 — The city of Miami Beach is slowly disappearing under water. At the big high tides of the year the sea washes over the famous wide beach and floods many of the city streets and magnificent Art Deco buildings. And over the past decade the floods have been striking more frequently.
Most of the city sits just a few feet above sea level, built on a foundation of porous limestone, allowing the rising seas to seep into the city’s foundations, surge up through pipes and drains, encroaching on freshwater supplies and saturating infrastructure. The city is now investing in a $500m project to raise roads and a pumping system to hold back the floods.
Miami Beach is one of the world’s most vulnerable cities to sea floods, but much of Florida’s coastline is facing similar problems. The Everglades wetlands is at risk from invading seawater and the Florida Keys are regularly flooded at extreme high tides.
NASA is facing floods from Atlantic storms at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on the Florida coast. But the most urgent threat is to drinking water as saltwater, and the pollution it flushes out, invades underground, and is now moving close to drinking water supplies for 6 million residents.
So it’s no surprise that 81% of people in Florida polled recently said they believe that climate change is happening now – an increase on the 63% in 2012. And yet climate change has been drowned out in the US presidential primary elections – apart from political debates in Miami.