Global warming could swamp Florida within 50 years, U.N.

report suggests
By Tim Collie
outh Florida un!entinel
February ", "00#
$ much!debated U.N. report on climate change to be released today raises the
specter o% rising sea le&els and hurricanes that could e&entually swamp much o%
outh Florida.
'ne o%%icial this wee( e&en suggested the Bahamas could be under water by "0)0.
*o+ens o% scientists and go&ernment e,perts %rom --) countries edited the new
report by the .ntergo&ernmental /anel on Climate Change, or ./CC. .t is considered
by most in the scienti%ic community to be the comprehensi&e document on climate
change, one that could in%luence go&ernment and industrial policy worldwide.
peci%ically, e,perts are loo(ing at predictions o% sea le&el rise o&er the ne,t 50
years %rom " %eet to -0 %eet.
$ rise o% -0 %eet could swamp the state0s highly populated coastline and send salt
water spilling into the %reshwater 1&erglades, said a leading outh Florida!based
scientist.
2.t0s an outlying estimate, but a -0!%oot rise is within the realm o% possibility,2 said
tephen /. 3eatherman, director o% the .nternational 4urricane 5esearch Center at
Florida .nternational Uni&ersity. 2.% that happens, not only do you ha&e rising water
to the east, but you ha&e saltwater encroachment in the 1&erglades. .t essentially
becomes part o% the ocean to the west o% us.
2$t that point, %orget about 1&erglades restoration ... 6ost o% this area is maybe -0
%eet abo&e sea le&el, so i% you0re tal(ing about a -0!%oot rise, and rising tide on top
o% that, then it0s all o&er.2
.t would be inconcei&able that construction could easily adapt to such a rise,
3eatherman said.
2To preser&e places li(e Fort 3auderdale, 7est /alm Beach, you0d be building high
sea walls li(e they ha&e in New 'rleans, and that wouldn0t help during storms,2 he
said.
But critics o% e%%orts to mandate industrial controls on carbon emissions, thought to
be a leading cause o% the warming, are not li(ely to be silenced by the report.
2This is ... an ad&ocacy group %or controls on carbon emissions,2 said Tom 4arris,
e,ecuti&e director o% the Natural 5esources tewardship /ro8ect, a leading
clearinghouse %or challenges to the science behind global warming. 27e ha&en0t seen
the science they0re drawing on in this report, and we0re not going to see it tomorrow.
2There0re o&er -0,000 reports that come out in any year on climate change ... 'ur
own scientists ha&e raised 9uestions about the data they0&e seen %rom the ./CC.2
'&er the past century, sea le&els ha&e risen one %oot, but that rate has doubled in
the last two decades, alarming climate scientists. They are especially concerned by
recent e&idence that shows huge areas o% ice disappearing %or the %irst time in
centuries in the $rctic and $ntarctica.
The melting ice raises sea le&els and, with global warming, water gets hotter and
e,pands.
cientists in&ol&ed in the ./CC are trying to incorporate concerns that their early
dra%ts underestimate how much the sea le&el will rise by "-00 because they cannot
predict how much ice will melt %rom Greenland and $ntarctica.
.n early dra%ts, scientists predicted a sea le&el rise o% no more than ") inches by
"-00, but that does not include massi&e ice sheet melts that ha&e been measured
o&er the past %ew years.
till, 3eatherman says he0s cautious about the pro8ections. $ pioneering researcher in
sea!le&el rise who has been in&ol&ed with ./CC reports %or three decades,
3eatherman said that the more li(ely scenario is that outh Floridians will %ace a
massi&e e%%ort to sta&e o%% beach erosion %rom moderate rises o% " to ) %eet.
$ rise o% -0 %eet could swamp the state0s highly populated coastline and send salt
water spilling into the %reshwater 1&erglades, said a leading outh Florida!based
scientist.
2.t0s an outlying estimate, but a -0!%oot rise is within the realm o% possibility,2 said
tephen /. 3eatherman, director o% the .nternational 4urricane 5esearch Center at
Florida .nternational Uni&ersity. 2.% that happens, not only do you ha&e rising water
to the east, but you ha&e saltwater encroachment in the 1&erglades. .t essentially
becomes part o% the ocean to the west o% us.
2$t that point, %orget about 1&erglades restoration ... 6ost o% this area is maybe -0
%eet abo&e sea le&el, so i% you0re tal(ing about a -0!%oot rise, and rising tide on top
o% that, then it0s all o&er.2
.t would be inconcei&able that construction could easily adapt to such a rise,
3eatherman said.
2To preser&e places li(e Fort 3auderdale, 7est /alm Beach, you0d be building high
sea walls li(e they ha&e in New 'rleans, and that wouldn0t help during storms,2 he
said.
But critics o% e%%orts to mandate industrial controls on carbon emissions, thought to
be a leading cause o% the warming, are not li(ely to be silenced by the report.
2This is ... an ad&ocacy group %or controls on carbon emissions,2 said Tom 4arris,
e,ecuti&e director o% the Natural 5esources tewardship /ro8ect, a leading
clearinghouse %or challenges to the science behind global warming. 27e ha&en0t seen
the science they0re drawing on in this report, and we0re not going to see it tomorrow.
2There0re o&er -0,000 reports that come out in any year on climate change ... 'ur
own scientists ha&e raised 9uestions about the data they0&e seen %rom the ./CC.2
'&er the past century, sea le&els ha&e risen one %oot, but that rate has doubled in
the last two decades, alarming climate scientists. They are especially concerned by
recent e&idence that shows huge areas o% ice disappearing %or the %irst time in
centuries in the $rctic and $ntarctica.
The melting ice raises sea le&els and, with global warming, water gets hotter and
e,pands.
cientists in&ol&ed in the ./CC are trying to incorporate concerns that their early
dra%ts underestimate how much the sea le&el will rise by "-00 because they cannot
predict how much ice will melt %rom Greenland and $ntarctica.
.n early dra%ts, scientists predicted a sea le&el rise o% no more than ") inches by
"-00, but that does not include massi&e ice sheet melts that ha&e been measured
o&er the past %ew years.
till, 3eatherman says he0s cautious about the pro8ections. $ pioneering researcher in
sea!le&el rise who has been in&ol&ed with ./CC reports %or three decades,
3eatherman said that the more li(ely scenario is that outh Floridians will %ace a
massi&e e%%ort to sta&e o%% beach erosion %rom moderate rises o% " to ) %eet.
2.t basically means instead o% putting enough sand down to %ight o%% a %oot, you0&e
got to put much more sand down to (eep beaches with a "!%oot rise,2 he said.
2That0s what0s going to happen because nobody0s going to let prime real estate li(e
the *iplomat 4otel in 4ollywood 8ust collapse in the water.2
The report also will say global warming has made stronger hurricanes, including
those that hit outh Florida in "00: and "005. The panel appro&ed language saying
an increase in hurricane and tropical cyclone strength since -;#0 2more li(ely than
not2 can be attributed to man!made global warming.

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