The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report revealing how climate change could strike Florida much sooner than anticipated. According to a projection from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, sea levels near Miami-Dade County could rise 15 inches by 2045. That’s a huge problem, because at high tide, one fifth of urban areas in the county are only about 12 inches higher than sea level.
The Union of Concerned Scientists’ Southeast Climate Advocate Nicole Hernandez Hammer said, “There is a high sense of urgency for initiatives to move forward and address sea level rise from the state and federally.”
According to the report, Miami-Dade residents would be forced to battle flooding daily; the Union predicts there would be “380 high-tide flood events per year.” Many currently inhabited areas would cease to be livable.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has investigated better ways to combat rising sea levels for years, and efforts increased after 2012’s Superstorm Sandy. Now they’re planning a two to three year study to assess how to protect vulnerable regions and help local communities prepare in what Gizmodo calls “the first coordinated, large-scale infrastructural response.”
The study will generate guidelines for communities and also send a list to the federal government detailing Florida’s greatest areas of need. This will likely be more than simply dredging canals or developing pumps; the Miami Herald said it could be “the biggest public works project in history.”
The work is vital not only for the $6.4 billion in real estate potentially affected, but because over 20 percent of families in Miami-Dade live under the poverty line, and may not be equipped to deal with the consequences of climate change.