Local governments and their civil engineers in Miami-Dade and Broward are plenty scared already, scurrying about in semi-panic mode, worried about well fields and septic tanks and flooded streets and backflowing canals and overflowing sea walls. They know that as far as global warming goes, South Floridas six million residents, most of them situated barely above sea level, are the canaries in the coal mine. In 2030 or 2040, when global warming has become a real nuisance elsewhere in the U.S., were liable to be treading water.
But concerned scientists and engineers and local civic leaders working frantically to preempt a surefire disaster exist in a separate universe from state and congressional Republican leaders and their buddies in the fossil-fuel industry who find all this warming stuff to be terribly inconvenient to political careers and profit margins.
Of course, most of them figure to miss the worst effects. Theyll be dead.
They reflect this strange generational disconnect when it comes to global warming. A poll conducted by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press last fall found that respondents 65 and older (my people) were far less likely to think that warming is mostly because of human activity. Among us old farts, 28 percent worried that this was the case, compared to 47 percent of those under 50. Just 29 percent of the oldsters thought global warming was a very serious problem.
Why would they express themselves otherwise? Global warming comes with a very expensive, long-range fix. It would require lots of taxpayer money and years of sacrifice to stave off disaster. Folks of my generation have made the self-serving decision to believe this global warming, sea-level stuff comes out of some bizarre conspiracy, entailing 98 percent of the worlds global scientists. A majority of my aging fellows would rather ignore the letter sent to the U.S. Senate urging action on carbon emissions, signed by 2,026 prominent U.S. economists and climate scientists, including eight Nobel laureates, 32 National Academy of Sciences members, 11 MacArthur genius award winners, and three National Medal of Science recipients.
My peers, and their gray-haired elected representatives, dont have much use for the long view. Other than the occasional F5 tornado, or years-long drought or weird frequency of 100-year floods and record-breaking forest fires, my generation can simply disregard warnings about truly awful future consequences of global warming. Like the destruction of Miami.
Because, by the time the waves are breaking over Biscayne Boulevard, with a little luck, well be dead and pushing up daisies.
Make that seaweed.