Year 4, Month 7, Day 20: Why Not Rent Out The Empty Space?

The Grand Island Independent (FL) notes the preparations underway in the Keys, arguably the communities most at risk for rising ocean levels:

Seasonal tidal flooding that was once a rare inconvenience is now so predictable that some businesses at the end of Key West’s famed Duval Street stock sandbags just inside their front doors, ready anytime.

“It’s really easy to see during our spring high tides that the sea level is coming up _ for whatever reason _ and we have to accommodate for that,” said Johnnie Yongue, the on-site technician at the fire station for Monroe County’s project management department.

While New York City’s mayor was announcing a dramatic multibillion-dollar plan for flood walls and levees to hold back rising water levels there, sea walls like those that encase the Netherlands wouldn’t help much in the Keys, as a lack of coastal barriers isn’t the island chain’s only problem.

“Our base is old coral reef, so it’s full of holes,” says Alison Higgins, the sustainability coordinator for the city of Key West. “You’ve got both the erosion and the fact that (water) just comes up naturally through the holes.”

The Keys’ plans for adapting to rising sea levels sound a lot like the way they prepare for hurricanes: track the incoming disturbance, adjust infrastructure accordingly and communicate potential risks to residents _ all, hopefully, without scaring off the tourists who treasure the islands for their fishing, Technicolor sunsets, eccentric characters and a come-as-you-are social scene that has attracted the likes of Ernest Hemingway, U.S. presidents and flamboyant female impersonators.

And who doesn’t relish an opportunity to dump on Rick Scott? July 2:

The challenges facing municipal officials in the Florida Keys are unique to their particular circumstances; very few cities anywhere in the world are built on thousands of years’ worth of accumulated coral, and very few are so profoundly vulnerable to the rising sea levels which are now considered inevitable consequences of the melting Arctic. These singular island communities are on the front lines of climate change; eventually all of humanity is going to contend with the impacts of a runaway greenhouse effect over the coming decades, and it’s not going to be pretty.

Key West’s readiness to face these dangers should be an example to those who use their political power to delay action and obscure the truth of global heating. For instance, Rick Scott, whose profit-driven anti-science ideology may enrich him and his cronies in the short term, while ensuring disastrous consequences for the state he purports to lead.

Mr. Scott is one of many conservative politicians who have made meaningful responses to the climate crisis all but impossible. This toxic mix of greed and folly is bad news for Key West, for Florida, and for us all.

Warren Senders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *