The Village Square Dinner Series: Can sea level rise be stopped?

Anabel Sanchez

Online Editor

 

 

There’s a good chance you’ve heard the topic of sea levels rising in recent times.

While some of you might feel like it’s a problem that hasn’t directly impacted you yet, if you enjoy going to Florida’s beaches, are irritated by the influx of flooding after our most recent hurricanes and are concerned about your flood insurance, then you should start paying close attention to this issue.

On May 1, Broward College students, faculty and Broward officials gathered to discuss and debate this topic as a part of The Village Square’s Dinner Series. Held at the Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park, a special panel was organized, featuring founder of Brizaga Inc. Dr. Alec Bogdanoff, the Sun Sentinel’s Rosemary O’Hara and NBC 6’s chief meteorologist John Morales.

After dinner, the discussion between the guest speakers commenced, tackling information ranging from tackling actual solid evidence of sea level rise, financial concerns and what Floridians needs to do to prepare themselves.

O’Hara opened the discussion by stating that Florida’s greatest threat is the rise of sea levels. According to her, the sea level has risen by 3 inches in the last 23 years. By 2060 it’s predicted to rise another 2 feet with no signs of slowing.

Morales then explained the glacial cycles of the planet and how each cycle lasts about 100,000 years, after which a period of “melting” occurs. However, he explained that the current period of warming is different.

“Over the last 100 years, this warming of interglacial period has been accentuated by the effects of the industrialization of the planet and the burning of fossil fuels,” he said. “The speed at which we’re seeing melting is accelerating, at the present, doubling at the pace we were going in the 20th century.”

Morales also stressed that weather patterns seem to be coinciding with the warming of the planet. “The patterns of having hurricanes stall or take odd trajectories is consistent with some of the changes we’re seeing with having a warming Arctic region.”

Broward County has currently raised the sea wall by 4 feet in response to flooding caused by the rise. Creative means such as taxation and programs like PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) help pay for them.

Bogdanoff went on to explain that the central and southern flood control systems of South Florida, which are structures that hold saltwater out and provide drinking water to Florida residents, will have difficulty handling the influx of water in Florida canals.

“Ten years ago, there was a study done by the South Florida Management District and they said that 18 of these structures are within 6 inches of failure. We’ve seen about 4 inches since then,” he asserted. “We have zero time to fix the system that is one of the most complex flood control systems in the world.”

O’ Hara, who directed the panel, quickly added, “The financial side of this is going to hit us first before the tidal wave hits us, and it’ll hit us with the National Flood Insurance Program (FEMA). It’s $30 billion in debt. Flood insurance premiums will hit us hard.”

While there is some hope, they all assured, in the fact that Governor Ron DeSantis has already signed an executive reform to protect Florida’s environment and water quality, it still does little to protect against the factors that are causing global warming on a worldwide level to begin with.

With the situation unfolding as it is, Morales suggested that prospective homeowners should begin to think long and hard about where they want to plant roots in South Florida as there will be downward pressure on homeowner’s insurance.

“Know where you live. Think about whether this is the place you want your children to inherit 20 years down the road,” he said. “You need to strategically think about 10 or 20 years ahead and whether you want to cash out before things go the wrong way.”

The Village Square is a non-partisan forum consisting of members and guests that routinely gather to educate the public on issues of importance on the local, state and national level. Broward College partnered with The Village Square to actively engage sponsored students and staff members on these matters.

You can find more information on The Village Square’s upcoming events by visiting https://broward.villagesquare.us/.

 

sancha9@mail.broward.edu

Photo courtesy of Broward College https://www.flickr.com/photos/browardcollege/albums/72157706883279981

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