Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sea level rise affects the Florida Keys now

Monroe County commissioner George Neugent writes in the Palm Beach Post News (Florida): …Sea level rise is a very real concern in many parts of the Keys. It impacts us particularly during high tide events when water tables are elevated and surface water has nowhere to go. While we're seeing this particular impact of climate change throughout Monroe County, this problem is by no means restricted to the Keys. Other low lying areas of South Florida are beginning to see such problems, and it's an issue that we're going to have to deal with in the future.

Yes, there is a lot of discussion as to the validity of climate change and sea level rise, but I am convinced that the Earth is warming, and that greenhouse gas emissions are exacerbating the situation. Most folks, if it's not something that's impacting them directly, take an approach that I'm not going to worry about it. Certainly we have skeptics here. It's a subject that's put on the back burner by many, and there are those who take a position that it's not happening at all.

As elected officials, we don't have that luxury. Let us take you on a tour and show you where rising sea levels, even at minimal degrees, are taking a toll in the form of ever higher tides and frequent storm surges. Read on, and I'll show you why we're at risk as time passes and the seas continue to rise.

Key Largo — ….We've got roads on the key that need to be elevated, some by as many as 18 inches. Those roads were built out in the lower points of the key. When they were built back some 30 to 40 years ago, they didn't muck out the material so they're sinking, too, as they get more use. So we're not only losing them to the tide but because of the use.

…Marathon — The Sombrero Golf and Country Club is one of six private golf courses in the Keys. This one is located on the oceanside, closer to the southwest end of the key and the famed Seven Mile Bridge. …During Hurricane George in 1998, this golf course was completely inundated with about three feet of water, and you could see the pooling effect. So now the focus is trying to keep the fairways green and, of course, golf courses love water….

Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, shot by Phil Hollman, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

No comments: