The Problem with Politics and Sea Level Rise
“In this three-volume budget, there is one mention of sea-level rise.
This has to be a joke. Given that we’re Ground Zero for climate change.”
Maggie Fernandez, League of Women Voters, To County Commissioners on 09/03/15.
Good news. Bad news.
The September 3rd Miami-Dade County commission meeting, led by Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez, illustrated both the political challenges and the growing grass root common sense concerns that citizens in our community have over sea level rise.
The good news is that much of the commission meeting was dominated by public comment, questions really, over why the County’s proposed $6.8 billion 2015/2016 budget fails to include one penny towards mitigating the growing dangers and damage from sea level rise. Citizen after citizen, speaker after speaker, voiced concern over why the budget for a region that is Ground Zero in America barely mentioned sea level rise and failed to appropriate any money towards fixing the problem. The fact that people are expressing concern over our political leaders’ failure to truly start addressing this growing problem is, in my view, a sign of solid progress. It seems to me that people, voters, are starting to realize the importance of this issue and are beginning to demand that today’s leaders do something about it. That’s good progress and a beginning.
The bad news, and it’s truly terrible news, is that one of the largest municipal budgets in America, in a County clearly in the crosshairs of sea level rise, has failed to allocate any real resources to begin solving the problem. Not only is no money being allocated towards addressing the problem, but the 831 page budget buries the topic of sea level rise on page 265 of Volume 3 in a budget that only has three volumes, and mentions it just one time. That’s ridiculous and insulting. This suggests to me that sea level rise is not the priority that it should be in Miami-Dade County while other local municipalities, Miami Beach, South Miami, and Pinecrest, to name three, are actually spending money to begin solving the problem while Miami-Dade County is falling farther and farther behind.
I suspect that the people in charge at the County would say they are ‘studying’ the issue, ‘thinking’ about it, ‘aware’ of it and might even say they are ‘concerned’ about that sea level ‘stuff’. That’s all likely true, and important, but the time for action has arrived. Sea level rise is front page news. The impact to our region’s infrastructure, businesses, citizens, and ecology is potentially catastrophic and while development all over the County is booming right now (notice all of those construction cranes?) with new buildings and infrastructure we need to begin implementing solutions rather than keep adding to the problem.
In a document filled with good news including rising revenue, the Miami-Dade County draft budget and those who wrote it have failed to take sea level rise seriously. 831 pages of content, yet you must travel 566 pages before finding mention of sea rise and are then disappointed to learn that no money is proposed to actually begin fixing the problem. Seriously? Our community, citizens and environment deserve better. South Florida should be a global leader in addressing this problem and I suspect that voters will begin making that clear by electing people who are serious about sea level rise and who put tax payer’s money where their mouth is, including in the budget.