Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Picture your block under water

Earth Day 2008. I’m heading out this evening to hear the Army Corps of Engineers’ inadequate plans for dealing with the Everglades. Previewed Monday on the Miami Herald’s op-ed page, the plan will say there’s not enough money to do the right thing. Funny. There’s trillions to do the wrong thing. Paltry pocket change for the Everglades.

The link to the Earth Day horror story includes an aerial photo – graphically altered – showing South Beach at high tide in the future, perhaps two generations down the line, when sea levels have risen enough so that high water creeps up from Biscayne Bay and runs seven or eight blocks through the street. We’ll have Washington and Collins Avenues left to party on.

Are you ready for that? Why aren’t we doing anything about it? Surprise, it’s that old problem: poor representation in Congress. They don’t know and don’t care to know. Minds elsewhere. And forget about the local political leaders. They know the problem but don’t care. Their billions are for stadiums and tunnels for white elephants.

A few weeks ago I saw this photo representation at a meeting organized by the Sierra Club to learn about the Everglades. Pretty shocking, but there is some little bit of hope. It requires, however, that we actually do something about restoring natural water flow in the Everglades. This is a little tricky to understand, so I’ll try to do it in bullets:

  • · The canals and highways that have destroyed the natural water flow in the Everglades also led to less sediment being deposited downstream. Think of how the Mississippi River has been confined within levees that control flooding and the result has been the retreat of the land in the delta. Same thing is happening in the Everglades: less sediment replenishing that which washes away, ergo less land.
  • · If we open some of the canal banks and put the Tamiami Trail up on an elevated roadway, more-natural water flow would gradually help build up the mangroves on the edges of Florida Bay, thus raising the level of the land. This could help fend off the effect of sea-level rise and also stop the intrusion of salt water into the aquifer that supplies our fresh water.
  • · Is this worth a billion? Saving not only the Everglades but also inhabited South Florida? I’d say so. Our leaders in Congress think all they’ve got is a couple hundred million, so we’ll get far less than enough to deal with the problem. On the other hand, they’re trying not to do something that would interfere with doing the right thing later on.
Earth Day 2008. Be thankful for small favors.

1 comment:

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