Once the stuff of computer models and science fiction, rising seas are now a reality in South Florida. Glaciers are melting, the ocean is expanding, and water is invading the land formerly known as dry.
Miami Beach, a city perched on a crepe-thin spit of sand and muck, has recently needed only a nudge – a heavy downpour or an unusually high tide – to see basements and low-lying streets submerged. More water is coming: six to 10 inches of rise by 2030, and perhaps more than two feet by the time today’s high-school seniors turn 60.
That leaves residents with a stark choice: to flee home, to pay for new seawalls and elevated roads and pumps that suck the water away, or to live on the hope that a better solution will emerge. It’s a dilemma that will replay itself across the U.S. as the climate changes, as people decide whether to stay or to go when hurricanes, wildfires, floods, and heat endanger their communities.
Special thanks to Nacho Corbella.