Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Florida is Sinking

Winter Park, FL
Ever wonder why it seems the biggest sinkholes open up in Florida? The mainstream corporate media (CMM) displays on your screen a home pecariously percherd on the rim of a shockingly large cavern appearing overnight, or an SUV at the bottom of a similar deep hole in a driveway, or a road ripped to pieces by sudden subsidence. The truth is that Florida is slowly sinking beneath the Atlantic Ocean. Why this is so is due to Florida's geology. Most of the low-lying pennisula is within 400 feet of sealevel and it lies entirely within the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The rocky spine running down the center of the state giving it elevation is porous like a sponge. As sea level rises due to global warming, salt water saturates the sponge left vacant by urban fresh water withdrawals. Saturated ground becomes unstable literally beneath Floridians' feet [photo]. Salt water has already migrated inland six miles in Broward County due to withdrawals from the Biscayne Aquifer. Coastal acquifers are now experiencing salt water intrusion, the phenonmenon that cannot be named in Florida's real-estate conscious politics. Florida's free-market governor is so hostile to climate issues and sustainable development that he threatens funds from the federal government that will not dispense to any state not planning for inevitable climate change impacts. Maybe Florida's sinkholes are big enough for the governor to bury his head.

Sea level has slowly risen for the last two centuries, but in the last twenty years the rate has increased about 80% faster than the United Nation's Panel on Climate Change estimated due to melting ice from the polar ice sheets. Levels are now expected to rise by 0.5 to 1.0 meter by 2100. Sea level rise will continue beyond 2100. In the past natural systems, such as barrier islands, mangroves, and marshes regulated the dynamic relationship between land and sea in the low-lying region. These natural systems have largely been disrupted or destroyed. Modern engineering has brought his infrastructure literally to the edge of the sea and beyond. Virtually none of it was built to withstand significant sea-level rise, although some was built to withstand localized storm surges. Most of Florida's 18 million residents live less than 60 miles from the Atantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. Three-fourths of those reside in coastal counties that generate 79% of the state's annual economy. The cost of replacing infrastructure and building rendered inadequate is estimated to be $3.0 trillion by 2030. Either the state finds the money to replace or improve structures to withstand higher tides and surges or the human population will have to move.

Ecosystems such as Florida Bay, the Everglades, Ten Thosand Islands and Big Bend coastline are already showing signs of rising sea-level stress. Florida's large estuaries will also manifest impacts. Then effects will be found in tidal rivers and then inland rivers. Major shifts in wildlife and plant communities will occur. Southern Florida will be affected before the Panhandle, but wherever there are tides in a state with more than 1200 miles of coastline and 4500 square miles of estuaries and bays, will experience the effects of slowly sinking beneath the waves.