Regularly affected by tropical storms, Florida, the “Sunshine State” will face rising sea levels in the coming years. Tara’s stopover in Miami is the occasion to discuss this consequence of global warming with John Morales, meteorologist for the local TV station NBC-6.
John Morales, meteorologist for NBC-6 television station in Miami © Maéva Bardy / Tara Expeditions Foundation
The city of Miami, located near the tip of the Florida peninsula, is deeply impacted by problems linked to global warming. John Morales, weather specialist for 32 years, explains that concerns are due not only to heavy rains triggered by tropical storms that regularly hit the coast of the United States, but primarily by increasingly intense floods caused by rising sea levels. He says that there is no solution at present.
DIKES ARE NOT POSSIBLE
Florida, with its 13,000 km coastline (second longest in the United States, after Alaska, counting all bays and islands) is regularly affected by heavy flooding caused by high tides. The geography of this state (characterized by low elevations) provides no barrier to stop the spread of the water. Building dikes is not a solution because the ground is calcareous and therefore porous. “You can build walls to protect the coast, but the water will seep into the ground and resurface a few kilometers further inland.”
DRYING THE STREETS
The infrastructure of Miami is difficult to protect, particularly because buildings stand along the sea, flush with the waterfront. The city has invested in pumping systems to drain the streets of Miami Beach. An effective solution for the moment, but according to John Morales, this will not suffice in the long term to fight against rising sea levels, not to mention the problem of pollution caused by direct discharge of soiled water into the sea. “In perhaps 40, 50 or 100 years...this city will be uninhabitable because the sea level will continue to rise,” says mister weatherman.
Flooding in the streets of Miami, September 29, 2015 © Joe Raedle / Getty Images
LONG-TERM SOLUTIONS: INVESTING IN CLEAN ENERGY
The only sustainable solution, he says, is to invest in clean energies to reduce greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels. “This requires industries to invest in new technologies.” But John Morales is optimistic: “Even in the United States people realize that the climate is becoming more extreme: deadly heat waves, more frequent flooding, climate refugees…” Populations directly affected feel concerned by global warming and put pressure on politicians to initiate the energy transition.
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