In March 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a comprehensive booklet entitled Being Prepared for Climate Change that laid out potential risks associated with climate change, as well as the areas that might be most affected. However, there do not seem to be any specific measures for counteracting those risks. In terms of dealing with sea level rise, there is not an overarching national plan in place— or even in the works— that could possibly provide any sense of relief to those having to face the issue head-on.
In the US, residents of coastal cities like Miami have not only seen tangibly negative effects on their local infrastructure due to increases in flooding, but they have also seen local businesses take a hit. With much of the commerce in these areas closely tied to waterfront aesthetics, it is becoming more important that local and state government support business owners in their attempts to combat these effects.
For many coastal communities, it has become a matter of either installing pumps that operate around the clock— even on cloudless days— to clear the streets of excess water, or simply building their houses and businesses on higher ground. However, the latter “solution” has proved to be quite controversial.
For example, in Miami, Scientific American reports that real estate buyers and speculators have increasingly been eyeing the high ground. The problem: due to Jim Crow-era zoning in many parts of the city, that high ground is largely occupied by black people who had originally been restricted to the older part of the city, as it was considered less desirable at the time. “Dry” neighborhoods are now what’s in, and residents must add gentrification to the growing list of unforeseeable side effects of climate change.
Ultimately, it is clear that rising sea levels will continue to affect many coastal communities across the globe for years to come. What is unclear, though, is how local and national governments will go about aiding in the fight to combat the effects of the issue.
Top photo by:
Natalie Wickstrom is a freelance writer based in Athens, Georgia. She most likely wrote this piece to the tune of a movie score whilst chewing gum.