Wave Goodbye

Posted in: Uncategorized- Nov 01, 2016 No Comments

In the opening of his book Some Kind of Paradise author Mark Derr states that “Sometime in the next century or two, the sea will cover Florida as it has periodically for the past 250 million years, and sometime, assuredly, the sea will retreat, leaving a peninsula dotted with lakes and marshes, ringed by a new beach of glistening sand.”  Say again? What? How long do we have?

Florida’s tenuous dry foothold above the sea has become a human concern for the first time since man set foot on planet earth.  No humans had ever lived in Florida until about 10,000 years ago so it never made any difference if Florida was wet, dry, damp, or sub-marine.  The Everglades formed about 5000 years ago covering the South Florida peninsula with a shallow sheet water that slowly flowed southwest to the sea. No place in Florida is more than 60 miles from salt water and no place in Florida is more than 345 ft above sea level. And in Miami, where the average elevation is 6 ft, a slender outcrop of oolitic limestone called the Atlantic Coastal Ridge is the only thing that separates us from inundation.  Water falls copiously from the sky above, bubbles up through the porous limestone below, and surrounds us on the south, east and west leaving us a precious dry sanctuary that many of us mistakenly believed was permanent.

In the beginning of the 20th century water management engineers made life possible for millions of people to live the Florida dream by damming and draining wetlands and fortifying coastal areas in an effort to domesticate nature. Today the Promethean task of managing Florida’s hydrology must balance environmental sustainability, societal necessity, and corporate insatiability in a state where the governor denies that climate change is real and forbids use of the expression.

As the sea rises along Florida’s 1,350 mile coastline the stakes are rising too. Scientists regularly revise their estimates for when they think South Florida will return to the sea. Creative, forward thinking urban planners, architects, and engineers are designing solutions to mitigate the inevitable but there really is no solution for what ails us.  And real estate developers keep building in the flood zone, along Collins Avenue, on man made islands in Biscayne Bay, in massive construction projects downtown, and continually creeping further into the Everglades.

“Sometime in the next century or two, the sea will cover Florida as it has periodically for the past 250 million years.”

Wave goodbye!


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