This week’s question: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being serenity and 10 being panic, how would you describe your outlook toward sea-level rise and South Florida’s economy?
I would say a ‘5’ because sea-level rise is the unfortunate reality we face. We can’t turn back the clock of global warming, so rather than panic, we must focus on implementing smart, practical solutions that can help mitigate the threats to our shoreline that will inevitably come. Most of all, we need our governmental leaders to have enough resolve to make decisions based on what is necessary rather than just what is popular.
Ramon Abadin, president, the Florida Bar, and partner, Sedgwick Law Firm
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I’d say it’s a 6. It’s a real problem, and I’m praying that some very smart folks are working on the problem.
Brian Brackeen, CEO, Kairos
Five — while it’s certainly not time to panic, we do have to be willing to invest the time and resources to counter this long-term threat. Fortunately, steps are being taken at the local, state and federal level to address sea-level rise. But we must keep reminding policymakers about the importance of this issue so it doesn’t get lost amid the stories that make the daily headlines.
Carol Brooks, president and co-founder, CREC (Continental Real Estate Companies)
I would say right now it is a 5. This is an issue we obviously need to grapple with. However, at a local level, it seems we are getting smarter in trying to deal with it. Of course, the challenge remains in making sure there is broader understanding at the state and national level of the impacts of sea-level rise to areas like ours that are densely populated and that could be greatly affected.
Monsignor Franklyn M. Casale, president, St. Thomas University
Six out of 10. South Florida’s economy will remain strong in the short term, thanks in large part to international tourism demand. However, this is not something we can ignore, and we do need to begin now identifying tangible solutions to sea-level rise over the long term. That means creating a holistic plan for combating rising seas and, most importantly, figuring out how to pay for that plan. Delaying action only results in lost time and money.
Robert Hill, general manager, InterContinental Miami
I would say a solid 7. Panic doesn’t do us any good, but neither does denial. The climate change and rising sea levels are not only costing South Florida millions of dollars, but it’s affecting the lives of its residents. Just ask the people in Miami Beach! If we don’t start working on solutions, there might not even be a Miami Beach in the future.
Miriam Lopez, president/chief lending officer, Marquis Bank
I don’t think we are at the panic level yet, but sea-level rise and climate change pose serious threats to our environment and our economy. It’s not a problem of the future, and it’s not just about Miami. This is a global issue that we must face up to today. And we are taking steps in the right direction, but there’s so much more that needs to be done. There are no easy solutions. It’s costly, and it’s going to take great courage and aggressive planning. But we have no choice because the alternatives are far more devastating.
Harve A. Mogul, president and CEO, United Way of Miami-Dade
I’d probably say 6 or 7. There is no disputing that sea-level rise is a serious concern for our economy, and I applaud the local leaders, activists and academics who are helping to ensure this issue is addressed and are creating plans to deal with the ramifications. As with solving any issue, working together to create a plan will be the best way to secure South Florida’s future.
Mike Parra, CEO for DHL Express Americas
Without a doubt, this is an issue that needs to be properly addressed sooner rather than later. South Florida’s sea-level rise issue is not going away, and until we figure out how to resolve it, it will continue to plague our city and its economy, which so heavily relies on travel and tourism. I agree with Miami Beach Commissioner Ricky Arriola, who said that “the biggest challenge we face is electing state officials who recognize our sea levels are actually rising.”
M. John Richard, president, CEO, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
I would rate the outlook toward sea-level rise and South Florida economy as a 6 because there is awareness, but because some feel it isn't imminent, it's not urgent.
Ania Rodriguez, CEO of Key Lime Interactive
I live on the beach and have recently become more in tune with this issue. If the predictions are accurate, we should all be very concerned not for ourselves, but for future generations. It is projected that by 2100 the ocean will be six and half feet deeper. This will potentially impact our drinking-water supply, increase flooding, higher flood-insurance premiums, sand and soil erosion, building project development, and tourism. I am a 6 on the scale, because I am concerned, but confident we will have innovative solutions to combat the sea-level rise — solutions that we cannot even imagine today.
Rachel Sapoznik, CEO & president, Sapoznik Insurance
Seven. I am very worried. Miami is on the front end of climate change. Given our location, we’ll be the first to bear the brunt of its effects. Even if we ended all carbon emissions today, the world’s oceans have already absorbed enough heat that they’ll continue to rise as the ice melts in our warmer seas. We would have to actively remove carbon pollution from the environment in order to stop climate change — and thus far, there is no international agreement to do so. Here in Miami, our city is built on a porous limestone bed. Even if we built high sea walls to stop the overflow, the water would seep in through the limestone. This will effect all of us eventually — in both our business and personal lives. We have to start taking more aggressive action.
Ginny Simon, founder, CEO, ginnybakes