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Elizabeth Kolbert has a good discussion on the end of Miami due to climate change. There’s almost no way around this conclusion, not with Miami’s limestone allowing water to flow underground on top of all the other problems with climate change and the fact that few people are really serious about doing anything about it and those that are very much do not include Marco Rubio and Rick Scott.

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  • efgoldman

    There’s going to be a big business building boat moorings off the third floor balconies of high rise beachfront condos. Get in on the ground floor.
    So to speak.

    • A Burmese Python slithering into every pot.

      • It will eat an entire alligator, and you won’t believe what happened next!

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          “It will eat an entire alligator, and you won’t believe what happened next!”

          Does it involve alcohol, nudity, firearms, lawyers and Florida Man™?

    • ajp

      Or rather, all of Miami will be like Stiltsville https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stiltsville

      Ah well. I do miss my hometown sometimes, but when I read stuff like this, I’m glad I moved away.

    • JonH

      Only as long as the limestone can support the buildings. Just wait until acidified ocean water seeps into the limestone.

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        YOOOGE sinkholes make for YOOOGE real-estate opportunities!

    • N__B

      All joking aside, the frames of Miami high-rises would not last long underwater. The lateral forces are too big (water gives a lot more push than air) and saltwater deteriorates concrete at a fairly amazing rate.

      • keta

        Ignorance of the sheer power of oceans remains, sadly, high.

        Experts know we don’t impose upon, but rather react accordingly. But experts are drowned out by the chitter-chatter of people who once spent some time by a lake, for a whole week.

      • efgoldman

        All joking aside, the frames of Miami high-rises would not last long underwater.

        But our way is much funnier.
        How long will it be before buildings within, say, five miles of high tide won’t be insurable any more?
        And do Governor Voldemort and his RWNJ minions all own waterfront mcmansions? Oh, I hope so.

        • N__B

          But our way is much funnier.

          An early Robin Williams line: comedy is not pretty.

          • Ramon A. Clef

            An early Robin Williams line: comedy is not pretty.

            That was the title of a Steve Martin album.

            • N__B

              Well excuuuuse me.

              I plead drunkeness. Yesterday was my birthday.

              • Marek

                I see what you did there, you wild and crazy guy.

      • Joe Bob the III

        I wouldn’t worry about it. Those places will be uninhabitable long before they are completely inundated. Once the sea levels rise enough to contaminate the drinking water anfd make the sanitary sewers run backwards, people will be heading for the exits.

        Even before that there will likely be a series of storm events that will do a lot to destroy property, severely decrease the livability of the region, and jump start the depopulation of the area.

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          “Once the sea levels rise enough to contaminate the drinking water and make the sanitary sewers run backwards, people will be heading for the exits.”

          Then it’s time to start building the wall across Northern Florida.

          • Marek

            Too far south, if you ask me.

        • Lee Rudolph

          All is for the best, in this best of all possible worlds, you cockeyed optimist you!

  • Personally, I’m hoping sea levels rise until the Great Plains are covered in salt water like they were several million yrs. ago.

    • Davis X. Machina

      IOW, Omaha Beach.

    • timb

      Indianapolis beachfront property, combined with the refugees from East Coast should help my property values

  • keta

    What’s all the kerfuffle? The Florida Governor has decreed the phrase “climate change” not be employed, so it’s all good.

    Carl Hiaasen has helpfully provided a descriptor of what’s really at work here – “permanent high tide” – and as noted science journalist Bill “Bunsen Burner” O’Reilly tells us, God does tides.

    So, God wants sea levels to rise. Who are we to question Republicans, intellectual journalists, or God? I suspect there’s a reason historical crosses were made of wood, ya’ know?

    • efgoldman

      God does tides.

      And who knows why?

      • Bill Murray

        my college just honored a guy that ran the roll-out of Liquid Tide at graduation today, he may know

  • True, historical crosses were made of wood and therefore floated but you know what else floats? Ducks. The solution is simple, build New Miami on a series of ducks. http://i1.wp.com/www.topsixlist.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/Duck-Shaped-Building.jpg?resize=700%2C500

    • Lee Rudolph

      build New Miami on a series of ducks

      Ducks all the way down off an elephant in Alabama because the Tuscaloosa, and how! (I’ll never, no.)

    • Also, Witches float.

    • Snarki, child of Loki

      Who are you who are so wise in the ways of science?

  • Mike G

    And when it happens, Fox News and the Republicans will blame Al Gore. Somehow.

    • and five years after that, will deny Florida ever existed, that it is a hoax perpetrated by the Librul Media and Big Geography.

  • Mike G

    And when it happens, Fox News and the Republicans will blame Al Gore. Somehow.

    • efgoldman

      Twice. He’s twice as culpable.

      • Bill Murray

        well he’s twice the man he used to be

        • Snarki, child of Loki

          so Gore jumped in the water and made the ocean overflow?

          sounds plausible.

    • postmodulator

      I think the spin will be “You guys weren’t persuasive enough. We would have listened if only you had argued respectfully and nonpartisanly and civilly.”

      • CP

        “The Confederacy was about to free the slaves anyway.”

        “Why didn’t Lincoln just offer to buy the slaves their freedom, anyway?”

        “Anyways, you know, Ulysses Grant had slaves too, so there.”

      • Snarki, child of Loki

        I think the spin will be “You guys weren’t persuasive enough. We would have listened if only you had argued respectfully and nonpartisanly and civilly held a gun to our heads and threatened our nuts with garden shears

        One of these two options is correct, one way to find out.

  • Gary K

    The silver lining: several Trump properties will disappear.

    • efgoldman

      The silver lining: several Trump properties will disappear.

      Yeah, but they’re so heavily leveraged that the lenders will take the bath, so to speak.

    • Vance Maverick

      I beg your pardon, that lining is 24-carat gold.

    • Davis

      Here’s hoping that Rubio’s house in West Miami disappears very soon.

  • timb

    Elizabeth is one of the top 5 journalists in America

  • ProgressiveLiberal

    I actually still live in Miami Beach. We lived down at 6th and West, right where they were putting in one of the pumps, and we couldn’t take the construction, so we moved up to 69th where it floods less often and there won’t be construction any time soon. At our old place, we used to drive through a foot of water to get home each time the tide was very high – which was probably about 20 times a year. But the building we lived in has no problem commanding higher rent than it did 2 years ago so it seems some people have no problem with it…

    Everyone knows it floods occasionally; its not stopping any investment. The gym down the street sandbags it’s doors each night when they leave. Walgreens sandbags its entrance to one store during high tide – a store they built no more than 3 years ago when the flooding was just as bad, and they knew it. They literally raised the road 4 ft in front of Whole Foods, and their parking lot now becomes a lake – at least a foot deep – every time it rains heavily. (Man I’d be pissed if I was them!) But businesses are still profiting, so no one wants to miss out on the getting when the getting is good. My wife makes triple the salary she made up north – we ain’t leaving while this is still the case.

    Nothing will change down here until enough people think the flooding isn’t worth it and the beaches are gone – then it will be the next Detroit. Someone is going to be left holding the bag, but all the money is betting it’s the next buyer or the one after that. And its pretty damn hard to figure out exactly when that will be. It’s not like the water gets consistently higher each year…we just may have slightly worse floods, and they may happen a time or two more often. But who can tell the difference between 12″ and 13″ in the street during our 7 or 8 actual floods? (We ignore the piddly 6″ stuff.)

    The thing is, it ain’t gonna be like some are describing it: water up to the first floor permanently, then everyone leaves town. What will actually happen is that floods will keep getting slightly higher, flooding will occur more frequently, year after year, until it reaches a tipping point where people just can’t deal with it, and more and more start to leave. But we live through 3.5 – 4ft high tides right now…and anyone who lived up north can tell you that its a hell of a lot easier dealing with our floods than the snow, and it ain’t even close. We just look at it as “nowhere is perfect” and go about our business. I mean, people live in Buffalo…Fargo….etc. We know its inevitable – so it kinda ain’t anything to worry about. My car is parking 6ft below street level right now and I’ll just get a new one if it ever floods.

    Basically: it ain’t bad enough yet, and it seems like its going to be a lonnnng time before it is.

    • efgoldman

      One of these days, probably decades before the actual Noah’s Ark event, property and casualty insurers will stop writing coverage, or set rates so high that it amounts to the same thing, and lenders will no longer accept the risk for properties within x miles of high tide, or charge risk-based rates which no-one will be able to pay.
      All your cavalier attitude won’t mean a damned thing, then. Real estate which can’t be bought, sold, or insured is worthless.
      And if the current political atmosphere in FL holds, the state won’t step in, either, nor should they.

      • Chetsky

        From reading PL’s comment, s/he rents? So really there’s the car, and belongings, and that’s it for capital goods? I can see how that might be a viable calculation. I mean, I live in SF: one day, a big quake is gonna come along, and a lotta folks are gonna lose their houses (moves an inch or two, no longer safe for human habitation, gets condemned). I don’t think I’d buy a house here, but I’m OK with renting (one-floor apt in detached bldg, so hopefully nothing really awful will happen when/if that big one comes ….)

      • Brett

        Unless they get the insurances subsidized. That already happens with federal flood insurance, and reforming it has been rather difficult because so many people have so much money invested in coastal real estate.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        It’s not my “cavalier attitude” – it’s reality. It snows up north, CA has quakes, and we have nuisance flooding in the streets, and rarely in buildings (that don’t have basements.)

        Do you people think corporations are stupid? For example, y’all keep mentioning insurance companies, like they are some geniuses who will figure this out, and none of us have any idea. So, tell me why Walgreens opened a brand new place within the last five years, right at the intersection that is the most frequent to flood? When the water continually gets right up to their door? They knew it would flood! But they still did it!

        Capitalism is a bitch, but its what we have. Until it gets really bad, people will still deal with the occasional flooding in the streets. Its our “snow”, except we can just sit in our condos and look out at it, and not go shovel it, and then go to the beach tomorrow.

        Here is what the (infrequent) flooding actually looks like the majority of the time:


        That building on the right, where the black car is exiting, is the previous building I lived in for 18 months, and I’d move back tomorrow if the road construction ended and the rent hadn’t skyrocketed. (Ironically this is the FIRST photo that comes up when you google image “miami beach flooding.”)

        You can still see the lines in the street, you can still see the sidewalk, etc. Cars aren’t going under. You just drive instead of walk.

        Here is some bad flooding:


        (BTW – in the background is the same building I used to live in, this photo is about 10 blocks away.)

        You see how it floods the street and gets right up to the door of the slightly raised business? This is what they deal with usually.

        Now, this is terrible, the worst I’ve ever seen:


        That is the other side of the street of the previous pic, and the story says that it is after a massive rainstorm, and probably was at high tide. But that is a once in a decade thing, and water that high is in isolated areas, the especially low lying areas. But if you look closely, all those homes behind are fine, because there are several steps up – they are not at street level, and we have no basements.

        So, yea, the flooding sucks, and its going to get worse, and some day this place will be desolate, but for now its still a great place to live the gross majority of the time. We could live anywhere we want in the US, and this is where we picked. We just had our first baby two months ago right here at the hospital in miami beach, and plan on being here until we get all racist and move to the burbs. I don’t imagine we’ll be up to our necks in water by then, but you never know.

        The people that can afford to live here can afford to move. Please don’t fret.

    • Philip

      That’s the “fun” thing about climate change, right? It’s not like every storm is a mega-storm. If the weather is a set of dice, climate change is just slowly weighting them, a little more each year, to favor the “big storm” faces. But no individual roll tells you anything, and the weighting is sufficiently subtle that, if you’ll pardon my mixed metaphors, the proverbial frog boils. You have to actually look at the numbers and do some statistics to really see how shocking the changes are. And the average American is basically innumerate. Especially so in Florida, since as I understand it, it has your average shitty red-state schools.

      • Downpuppy

        It’s been 23 years since Andrew.

        The next big hurricane, with an extra foot of base water, is pretty certain to be the tipping point.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        You can say the same thing about NYC, but I don’t see people getting their panties in a bunch about that…

        …should they all depopulate tomorrow? NYC is going under too…and that’s a hell of a lot more $$$$$ than our podunk beach.

        Try to run a subway underwater…good luck with that.

        We could easily be the next New Orleans. BTW – what happened there? Everyone left, right?

        PS. I don’t mind mixed metaphors, but frogs jump out of hot water. Just like people will leave here – just like they left detroit, aliquippa, homestead, etc, etc, etc – when its no longer a nice place to live. Miami Beach is only 90k people – we could easily move them all and bulldoze this place tomorrow without a blip on our national GDP. Tourists will just have to go to beaches elsewhere.

    • Murc

      At our old place, we used to drive through a foot of water to get home each time the tide was very high – which was probably about 20 times a year.

      I’m curious, do a lot of people down there have… I don’t even know the technical term. Those snorkel things for their car exhaust, so when you roll through eighteen inches or so of water it doesn’t stall out?

      • Lee Rudolph

        Diesel trucks. The exhaust is higher than the cab roof, and you can roll coal!

      • ProgressiveLiberal


        Everyone drives a normal car with no modification. And again, I live in the worst area for flooding – Miami Beach itself.

        There are also no shortage of high end sports cars that are 6 inches off the ground.

        Regular old cars nowadays have the airfilter box high enough that even a foot of water will not get anywhere near it to stall it out – and that’s pretty much the only way water gets in your engine, transmission, etc. The water would start pouring in your door sill before it will stall your engine. And that happens – if you’re parked in the wrong area, during high tide, AND it rains/monsoons – ie, the perfect storm. But that is still pretty rare.

        For the gross majority of days, and even the majority of flooded days, it still really has no effect on people in cars – only people walking or biking. In fact, when it gets bad, I’d drive the two blocks to pick my wife up from work instead of walking.

        What people aren’t understanding is that our “floods” are less than 12″, except if the road really dips to one side, etc. But them you drive in the middle of the road, and virtually all roads are crowned, so its no problem – there may be no water at all in the middle of that road. It’s not like the floods I’ve seen up north after monsoons, its much more mild.

      • BiloSagdiyev

        The term is snorkel. Only seen on off-road jeepy trucks that people have bought an aftermarket one for. But that’s the kind that goes all the way up to roof level so you can (in theory, if you wanted to) cross a very large creek or small river.

        Please note, everybody, engines do not “stall out” when they suck in water. They just plain break. Water is incompressible in our corner of the universe. A running motor that sucks in, oh, 38 cc’s of water into one cylinder? Bammo. Pistons can crack, connecting rods can bend. End of motor.

        Be very careful in flood water and know how high your engine’s air intake is.

    • joe from Lowell

      anyone who lived up north can tell you that its a hell of a lot easier dealing with our floods than the snow, and it ain’t even close

      That is so not true. Snow doesn’t flow into your basement. Insurance companies don’t refuse to insure you because it snows where you want to build.

      I think efg below is right; it’s the insurance companies that will kill Miami.

      • Philip

        I dunno. They still insure the idiots who keep rebuilding twice a decade after a mudslide wrecks their home again.

        • joe from Lowell

          There are actual FEMA maps that can make your property uninsurable or extremely expensive to insure, because of flooding. They do take regular, predictable flooding seriously.

      • brewmn

        An ex-girlfriend’s folks lived in a high-rise on the beach in Panama City. When I met them when they came to Chicago for a visit, they were all “but how can you stand the snow and the cold?”

        That fall, a hurricane blew out all their windows, and they had to go live with an elderly relative for several months. So, I was all “yeah the snow and cold sure do suck, but they never actually made my home uninhabitable.”

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Ummm….I’ve lived in both. And the occasional “flooding” down here A) isn’t what you think it is, and B) is less frequent and less “worse” than snow in many, many northern cities. (My wife and I will never move back to the cold and snow – it really is worse than the “flooding” down here, and this is after 5 years down here.)

        You’re thinking its flooding like up north – a monsoon leaves several feet, its pouring down hills and filling your basements, etc. I’ve lived through that too! But it’s different down here. First, we have no basements – that was made clear in the article. Second, water finds the low point first – which is the gutter next to the sidewalk, then the sidewalk and part way into the road – but all roads are crowned, so the middle is shallowest. And third, most businesses and condos, etc, aren’t built at “gutter” level – if they are built even one foot higher than the gutter, then 12″ won’t effect them. 2ft, you need 24″ of water, etc, etc, etc.

        So, for example, my last condo building was in front of one of the lowest spots in miami beach, the first spot to flood every time. We dealt with “the worst” for 18 months while we lived there. This is how it would work: gutter floods, sidewalk and towards middle of road, etc. But it would never get to the front steps, or even a quarter of the way up our driveway – cause when they built the building, they put the lobby probably 6 ft higher than the street. So, we just drove through a foot of water, and into the parking garage. No problem. And almost every building/condo/etc built here since the dawn of time is not at street/gutter level.

        It has to be a serious rain event, combined with high tide, and THEN you get businesses flooded. But serious rain event also happen up north, and floods still happen. Its a natural disaster – everywhere has them. You clean up and move on.

        Hurricanes flood NYC, NO, etc, etc, etc. Which is another angle, but also another story.

        And it may be the insurance companies that kill miami. But they haven’t yet. (Plus: State insurance.)

        • joe from Lowell

          You, individually, may find walking through 12 inches of warm water less unpleasant than being cold, but that really doesn’t have anything to do with the impacts of flooding vs. snow on constructing and maintaining a city.

          You’re thinking its flooding like up north

          No, I’m thinking it’s like the flooding described in the piece linked in the OP, and many others I’ve read in both popular and professional press, about the salt-water flooding and infiltration in South Florida. If this was just about having storms that cause some flash-floods, it wouldn’t be such a big deal.

    • gratuitous

      “Someone will be left holding the bag.” I suggest the example of Detroit will be instructive. It wasn’t the Ford family that got whipsawed by the decline of the auto business, it was poor people who couldn’t get out of the way who took it in the shorts.

      Wealthy Miamians will get away clean, or sustain losses they can absorb with ease. Poor people without the means will be stuck in the rising waters, and get the added bonus of hearing their fellow citizens safely away criticize them for “choosing” to stay in Miami.

      • ProgressiveLiberal

        Yes. This. Like I said.

        But for now, this is just capitalism. Y’all can get mad at it, but it is what it is.

        So where would you tell a family not to move to take a good paying job, because SOME DAY that job will be gone? Detroit when auto jobs were available before they weren’t? Pittsburgh where steel jobs were available before they weren’t? Texas where oil jobs were available before they weren’t? North Dakota now?

        The problem is that miami is a good place to live NOW, and all the warnings that it won’t be at some indeterminate point in the future – while absolutely true – is not going to stop people from making money and living here while that is still possible. The music is still playing, ain’t nobody sitting down. When we moved here a couple years after the crash, there were boarded up buildings everywhere in miami beach. South of Fifth was a mess. Now you can’t find a single dilapidated place that doesn’t have at least a construction permit on it. Everything has been bought, and either replaced or remodeled. Hundreds of millions have been spent on new condos and commercial space. People are raking it in hand over fist here. People that are retired with millions upon millions are choosing to live here while it still perfectly inhabitable, keeping the economy running.

        Again, my wife makes 3X the salary she did up north. Are we supposed to leave? Even with a place that costs 4X as much, we’re still way, way, way better off. At some point this won’t be true…but it would be stupid to give it all up because this will be a shitty place to live in 40, 30, 20, 10 or even 5 years from now. Why give up millions for someone else to earn, just to be ahead of the curve?

        Which is why miami beach won’t go out with a bang, but a whimper…

    • Ahuitzotl

      all the money is betting it’s the next buyer or the one after that

      they always do … and guess what?
      I trust you’re renting

  • keta

    Sodden stated earnestness is the best kind. It comes with the with its own salty tears.

    Bog bless you, FL 23.

  • j_kay

    There’s time even them because it’s boringly slow.

    Won’t dike stocks turn into satellites?

    • joe from Lowell

      That’s the kicker with Miami: build all the dikes you want, the water will flow under them and bubble up inside.

      • Brett

        Yep. It’s also why Stiltsville won’t work – the ground isn’t stable enough for it with water flooding into it. They’d essentially have to raise the city up, put down a thick layer of impermeable rock, and then hope they can put the city on top of that.

  • Billy Nye did a great special about climate change earlier this year, and he showed how Miami and other cities on the Intercoastal are actually building their soil up about fourteen inches to combat the rising oceans.

    I knew, altho it was never mentioned in the program, that Florida was basically just one giant extinct coral reef (it’s how south Florida gets all those cool springs for divers) and said to myself “Do they really think a thin layer of top soil is going to stop the water from welling up through the ground as the pressure builds?”

    I’m glad I was not alone in that thought.

    • Brett

      It’s probably going to have to be some type of nearly impermeable rock. Lord knows how much that will cost. Or I suppose they could try and drill their way down to the Florida Platform bedrock and build up from there.

  • By the way, Nye also pointed out that you can’t get a thirty or even twenty year mortgage in many sections of Miami now and that most insurance companies are starting to pull coverage out of Miami Beach.

  • DAS

    Just a couple questions: do the powers that be in South FL live in the parts of Miami that regularly flood? Do the floods even affect big name hotels by the shore or do they mainly affect inland low lying areas?

    • ProgressiveLiberal

      Mainly inland and the west (bay/downtown) side of the island – the high side is the east (ocean) side, which is the tourist side – Collins Ave (I live on), Ocean Dr, etc. So it effects the residents, and not the tourists. But it is mainly confined to the street and sidewalks. Sometimes Collins floods, a little bit, but it just gets your feet wet, it doesn’t effect any hotel at all. It doesn’t effect the beach at all.

      And the flooding isn’t as bad as you think it is, yet.

      Its more a nuisance to people with less money that have to walk through it. The rich don’t like it cause it slows traffic. Cars can easily transverse a foot of water nowadays – and the middle of the road is at least a food higher than the edge of the road too…

      Rich people live everywhere down here, especially miami beach, which gets flooded the worst. They just deal with the few days a year it floods and still choose to live here.

  • BiloSagdiyev

    Talk to your children about storm surge.


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