Because Ill be dead.
Not the most forward looking credo, kicking the coffin down the road, but its the unspoken subtext when politicians refuse to acknowledge a disastrous inevitability. Last week, when U.S. House Speaker John Boehner called White House initiatives to curb carbon dioxide emissions absolutely crazy, he was really saying that short-term sacrifices to stave off global warming arent worth contemplating for a political strategist looking no further than the next election. Because he and his climate-denying colleagues, most of them of a certain crotchety generation, will be dead before their progeny face the consequences.
When Rick Scott said, Ive not been convinced that theres any man-made climate change. Nothings convinced me that there is, the 60-year-old Florida governor was really just suggesting he can muddle through the next few years as a climate denier pol because by the time South Florida is inundated by rising seas, hell be buried and forgotten.
But maybe not. The current issue of Rolling Stone, in an article entitled, "Goodbye Miami," suggests that the ruinous effects of sea level changes will be plenty obvious by the time Scott turns 75.
The article draws on a number of recent studies warning that the thermal expansion of the oceans, together with the melting of glaciers and polar ice sheets, will bring havoc to Miami and environs much sooner than climate scientists thought just five years ago.
The latest dismal report came from the federal governments own National Climate Assessment in January, which warned that the soaring heat index in the southeast U.S. (2012 was the warmest year on record) would saddle the likes of South Florida with salt-water intrusion, disappearing cropland, increased ground-level ozone with accompanying respiratory illnesses, more mosquitoes and tropical diseases, more extreme weather. And, of course, an impinging ocean.
Rolling Stones contributing editor Jeff Goodell writes, The unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis.
Goodell warns, It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes.
Goodell talked to climate scientists, including Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami, who told him, Miami, as we know it today, is doomed. And theres now a depressing number of peer-reviewed studies on sea-level rise supporting his pessimism.
And Goodell talked to a number of South Florida civil engineers, whore already struggling with failing stormwater drainage systems, salt-water encroachment and low-lying infrastructure. He cites the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, Americas Fukushima-to-be, set on the vulnerable edge of Biscayne Bay. But maybe the stink of a South Florida sewage system rendered inoperable by higher sea levels will have driven us all away before Turkey Point goes gafooey.