Christmas 2013 was the best and worst of times for Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves, Prime Minister of the Caribbean island nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Dec. 19. For Gonsalves, an outspoken populist who was about to take over as chairman of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, it was a moment of valuable political cachet: Francis has proven a champion of poor global underdogs like the small republics of the Caribbean.
On Christmas Eve, the islands of the eastern Caribbean were hammered by 15 inches of torrential rain. The flooding and landslides killed at least 13 people. South Florida’s Caribbean diaspora is gathering relief supplies - and officials are sounding the climate change alarm.
Ralph Gonsalves, the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, calls last week’s downpour “a disaster of a proportion…we have not seen in living memory.” Gonsalves himself lost a cousin killed in a landslide.
WLRN-Miami Herald News hosted a coastal-communities town hall on Nov. 7 as part of our more-than-weeklong multimedia series on the effects of sea-level rise, called Elevation Zero: Rising Seas in South Florida.
WLRN anchor Tom Hudson moderated the event, which included a panel of U.S. elected officials from East Coast districts gathered to discuss a response to the threat of rising seas. For more details on the premise, click here.
Climate scientists largely agree that sea level is rising. The extent of the change is a far more complicated matter.
“Probably two feet. Three feet, possibly,” said David Enfield, a climatologist with the University of Miami and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. “As an extreme -- if for example we see an unexpected acceleration of the melting ice in Greenland and Antarctica, something else we’re not observing -- we could be seeing six feet by the end of the century.”
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. is no stranger to stirring up controversy. As the 50th anniversary of his uncle's assassination approaches, his previously secret diaries have brought forth more private revelations about him and his famous family.
But he may be more comfortable poking at the fossil fuel industry (which he calls “criminal”) while also acting as a green technology entrepreneur.
Florida — especially South Florida — is very flat and very low, and in places like Miami Beach and Key West, buildings are just 3 feet above sea level. Scientists now say there may be a 3-foot rise in the world's oceans by the end of the century.
Click the play button above to hear the radio version of this post by business reporter Karen Rundlet
Plenty of local realtors will describe South Florida’s housing market as recharged. The latest reading from the popular Case-Shiller Index showed sales of single-family homes up 13.5 percent from a year ago in August.
There is continued demand for waterfront properties, fueled in large part by international cash buyers from countries like Canada and Brazil. In Miami-Dade County, for instance, the category of luxury properties selling at price points above $600,000 and below $1 million, saw growth in sales of almost 68 percent.
However, the question remains. If you add the threat of rising sea levels to the real estate investment equation in South Florida, are rooms with an ocean view actually a terrible place to put your money?
Global warming has raised global sea level about 8 inches since 1880 while rising seas dramatically increase the odds of damaging floods from storm surges. In fact, a Climate Central analysis found that the odds of worse floods occurring by 2030 are on track to double or more for widespread areas of the U.S.
When it comes to climate change, one thing is certain: our oceans are rising. And South Florida is expected to be among the first regions on Earth to experience the impact. In fact, some initial preparations are already underway.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 10:56 am
Declaring that "human influence on the climate system is clear," a U.N.-assembled panel of scientists reported Friday that "it is extremely likely that human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."