It’s High Noon in Miami, Baby

As keen as he is, you don’t need Bill Nye The Science Guy to know that the Earth is in for a rather rough ride; heck, you don’t even have to look outside the box. All you’ve gotta do is go online, and if the bad news doesn’t spill it out, the alarming reports will.

Most alarming of all of course is the recently released Fifth Assessment Report issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). For those few who’ve yet to be bombarded, the IPCC’s extensive Assessment (which btw was put together by 243 expert lead authors and 66 editors from 70 countries and cites some 12,000 scientific references), was apparently so thoroughly evoking of crisis that, as reported in The Guardian UK and elsewhere, it had to be ‘diluted’ before publication.

Here’s what was said by David Wasdell, who leads on feedback dynamics in coupled complex global systems for the European Commission’s Global System Dynamics and Policy (GSDP) network:

“Every word and line of the text previously submitted by the scientific community was examined and amended until it could be endorsed unanimously by the political representatives.”

The countries putting on the most pressure? Yep, you guessed it, “some of the world’s biggest greenhouse gas emitters,” including Saudi Arabia, China, Brazil and the good ol’ U.S. of A.

Photo by Alissa Christine

Photo by Alissa Christine

But while our nation’s perpetually lobbying policy wonks are overseas overseeing to what amounts to a whitewash, another contingent of informed citizens right here at home refuses to shill for Big Oil. And we don’t mean the usual Green suspects either; we mean the military.

Really.

Okay, so it’s former military, but considering the report comes from 11 three star and four star admirals and generals, it’s about as military as you can get without actually being in a war zone.

Come to think of it, the report, unwaveringly titled National Security and the Threat of Climate Change, which was initially issued by the Center for Naval Analysis (CNA) back in 2007 and just this week brought up to date, harkens forward to a war zone, one that’ll be fought on the dwindling ice sheet known to all as the Arctic.

Here’s how The New York Times plays it:

“The CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board found that climate change-induced drought in the Middle East and Africa is leading to conflicts over food and water and escalating longstanding regional and ethnic tensions into violent clashes. The report also found that rising sea levels are putting people and food supplies in vulnerable coastal regions like eastern India, Bangladesh and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam at risk and could lead to a new wave of refugees.”

“In addition, the report predicted that an increase in catastrophic weather events around the world will create more demand for American troops, even as flooding and extreme weather events at home could damage naval ports and military bases.”

Yeah, we know, worrying about naval ports and military bases is probably the least of your concerns, especially if you live in the Magic City, which, as USA Today so recently chorused is, with Tampa, New Orleans and Charleston, one of the most at-risk cities in America. Thing about it is though, Metro Miami is more at risk than any of ‘em.

Even a sea-level rise of 6 inches will be costly in South Florida. “That will happen in the next two to three decades,” says Ben Strauss of Climate Central, a Princeton-based non-profit group that used federal data to create its Surging Seas database. The region’s most likely rise in sea level will range between 5 and 13 inches by 2040 and between 7 and 20 inches by 2050, according to projections by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) based on tidal data in Key West.

So by mid-century, Strauss says there’s at least a 78% chance of severe flooding of at least 2 feet above the high-tide line.

2050 might sound like a long way away, but it isn’t. Trust us. Better yet, trust yourself. And trust that you and your neighbors can come together to do something, if not to stop the inevitable, at least to keep at at bay for a century or three.

This Saturday, May 17th, at High Noon, your neighbors will be joining together to do just that. The endeavor’s called Hands Across the Sand, and for the past five years its had folks just like you holding hands to protect our shores and our cities all across the world. Brought to fore by the great good folks at the Sierra Club, Oceana, and the Surfrider Foundation, whose local, Miami Beach-based Chapter has been instrumental in protecting our beloved coasts, Hands might just do what the bought and paid for wonks won’t — that is, save our city from what will otherwise be certain catastrophe.

Hands Across the Sand Miami Beach takes place Saturday May 17th 12 Noon, at 5th and Ocean. See. You. There.

WORDS BY John Hood

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