It's going to be a tough century for places like the state of Florida. For all its many challenges, the greatest one facing this retirement Mecca is climate change.
Low-lying Florida has water problems, too much and too little. The too much is seawater. The too little is freshwater. Heavy demand for freshwater by Florida and its neighbour states of Georgia and Alabama. In October, 2007, all three states sued the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming it played favourites with the others in allocating water supplies.
In June, 2011, the Miami Herald put Florida's water crisis this way:
"At the north end of the sprawling Everglades system, endangered snail kites are abandoning nests from the Kissimmee River basin down to Lake Okeechobee. Marshes in the heart of the Everglades are burning or shriveling into cracked mud.
"On the east coast, oysters are dying as sea water pushes deeper into the brackish St. Lucie River estuary. On the west, explosions of toxic algae are killing fish and triggering public health warnings in the Caloosahatchee River. At the south end of the Glades, stretches of coastal Florida Bay mangroves have dipped into unhealthy hyper-salinity.
"The ecological damage from one of South Florida’s worst droughts is deepening, water managers said Thursday, and rain is going to have to arrive soon —and in big buckets — to heal it.
“This has essentially overwhelmed and taken a toll on the entire natural system from top to bottom,’’ said Linda Lindstrom, director of restoration sciences for the South Florida Water Management District.
"The drought is just one challenge confronting the district, which also began the process Thursday of meeting demands from the Legislature and Gov. Rick Scott to reduce property tax rates and slash $128 million from the budget of an agency that oversees the water supply and flood control for 16 counties."
That's right. In response to the state's water crisis, its governor slashed the budget of the sole agency overseeing the state's water supply for 16-counties.
But it's seawater that will cause Florida's greatest problems. A new study published in the peer-reviewed journal, Environmental Research Letters, warns that, by 2030, the risk of a "once in a century" flood will double or even triple for the five million Americans living along the country's coasts. Low-lying areas, just like Florida, will be particularly susceptible. Co-author of the reports, Ben Strauss, notes that south Florida is essentially indefensible.
Global warming will more than double the odds of once-a-century floods by 2030 for more than two-thirds of the 55 coastal locations considered in the analysis, the Climate Central report said. For a majority of the locations, warming triples the odds of century floods.
By 2030, storm surges combined with rising seas could raise waters to 4 feet or more above high tide lines at many locations, the reports said, noting that 4.9 million people live in 2.6 million homes in this vulnerable zone between the observed high tide and the top of expected flood waters.
Cities are likely to be hit hardest, Strauss said, with 90 percent of the impact projected to come in areas with extremely dense population.
In 285 coastal cities and towns, more than half the population lives below the 4-foot mark, the Climate Central report found. Florida has 106 of these at-risk municipalities; Louisiana has 65, New Jersey and North Carolina have 22 each, Maryland has 14, New York has 13 and Virginia has 10.
Florida is a special case because in addition to rising seas and storm surges, its geology and system of drainage canals pose complex problems. "Basically, south Florida in the long term is indefensible," Strauss said.
"A lot of the state is built on porous bedrock, bedrock that's like Swiss cheese," he said. "You can't practically build a wall to keep the sea out. The water will come up through the ground."
And Florida's porous bedrock poses another, potentially greater problem - seawater inundation of the already stressed freshwater resources. The freshwater Everglades are already suffering the onset of salination which poses a threat to plants and wildlife alike and a risk of contamination to essential agricultural irrigation.
In Louisiana with its heavily developed Mississippi estuary, the study finds 666,000 residents, representing almost 15% of the state's population and homes, are at a 1 in 6 risk of storm surge inundation by 2020, a risk that is expected to increase substantially thereafter.
Fortunately the Deep South knows better than a bunch of dumb-ass scientists peddling their global warming hoax. Why Rush tells them as much just about every day.
There's a tipping point to storm surge inundations. Once particularly vulnerable areas become no longer viable for habitation (i.e. insurers simply refuse coverage), it is expected to create a visible "internally displaced population" problem. IDPs have, until now, been more commonly associated with sectarian war zones like Iraq. A lot of those not initially displaced will also be rethinking the viability of their coastal living, adding to the numbers seeking to relocate inland. This comes with terrific costs and impacts, especially for debt-ridden state governments with populations demanding ever greater tax cuts or in the midst of water crises.
What Georgia, Florida and Alabama have shown is that, while the "good neighbour" policy still exists for standard natural disasters, when it comes to water, it's every man for himself.