By: Mario Alejandro Ariza
Is Miami sinking? Maybe it's true, as evident seeing the effects hurricane Ian just had in the area and the re-occurring effects of the king tides, but why is this happening? Our book this month, "Disposable City," takes an interesting look at climate change as a source of the rising waters in southern Florida. I must say that the timing of this book on our list and hurricane Ian is interesting. We read Mario's findings in the book and witness some of them happening in Florida a fortunate coincidence to bring to life the topics of the book and I hope that you like myself are taking a closer look at climate change to appreciate the potential future impacts. It was eye-opening to me about the effects of king tides on Miami when the book discussed almost stepping on an octopod in the parking garage that had washed up through the drain or not being able to flush the toilet because of impacts to the sewer system during the king tide. But despite all this, the real estate business is booming, increasing the challenges with a greater population.
As Emergency Management professionals, I feel we owe it to our communities to take a closer look at the climate change threat. Assess the risks and make real mitigation efforts to minimize impacts on our communities, particularly our coastal communities and infrastructure.
Climate change is a real threat to our coastal communities, but everyone eventually, a real enough threat that I feel we should include in our THIRAs and start planning for the risks.
Miami is on the frontlines of the climate change challenge, and they have taken some good migration in efforts to build resiliency. Efforts such as retrofitting water systems, raising roads, girding the coast, and installing diesel-powered abatement pumps (but they contribute to carbon emissions). Only time will tell if these measures are effective.
We must understand the communities we work in. As the sea levels rise and Miami's coasts become inundated by water, the very limited high ground in Miami is becoming highly contested. The Atlantic Ridge is typically where lower-income communities are, and now the wealthy are beginning to push them out as they seek the high ground, but where do the low-income community go? A problem for Emergency Managers to solve, how do you support your socially vulnerable communities?
Miamians are facing some difficult challenges in the future, and it will take a team effort to overcome them. It will be interesting to see what they do, and I will be taking notes.