Before the Flood, South Florida Native Quietly Plans Exit Strategy

I spoke with my friend Robin this week. Robin lives in Miami Shores, a mostly upper-middle class neighborhood located in Miami Dade county. It’s near the causeway that takes you to the beach. Robin was born on Miami Beach, so she’s a South Florida native.

On our call, Robin recounted a conversation she recently had with a friend who lives on Miami Beach. Both had seen Leonardo DiCaprio’s Before the Flood documentary on the National Geographic channel.

A central focus of this documentary was sea level rise and the impact it will have on Miami in the coming decades. The documentary had scared Robin and her friend enough to start thinking about selling their homes and moving to higher ground. For Robin, that higher ground was in Asheville, NC. She told me her home was paid for, and should the real estate market crash due to a mass exodus caused by sea level rise, she could lose the half million dollars her home was currently worth. She didn’t want to be a climate refugee. Robin wanted to know my opinion.

I’d also lived most of my life in South Florida. Although I’d been talking about leaving for much longer, I finally sold my home and made my exodus five years before. Due to rapid population growth and limited natural resources, South Florida is a textbook example of overshoot and what I saw as an inevitable collapse–hastened on by climate change and the already rising sea. And to add the cherry on top of the feeling of impending doom, the geology of South Florida being a porous limestone, makes the coastline indefensible. You can build a sea wall, but the water will still rise up from the ground beneath your feet.

I shared my thoughts with Robin. Across history, sea level rise has been non-linear. Climate impacts have been mostly worse than predicted; feedback loops could amplify these even further. And far before they have an epic flood in their front yards, Robin and her neighbors will have other problems to contend with that will make the southern end of Florida unpleasant to inhabit.

One that should be of concern was salt water intrusion into the drinking water aquifer. You can’t drink salt water. Desalinization is both costly and energy intensive, and probably not feasible to do on such a large scale. Another to consider was the sewer. When I lived in Broward, the number floated around the county climate change task force was 18 inches of sea level rise to inundate the sewer system.

So, in my opinion, Robin was reasonable to start contemplating that her real estate investment (now still a hot commodity) might decline in her lifetime. Yes, I agreed with her. Start downsizing, get the house on the market, and get the exit plan in place now while she was still in control. Robin wasn’t wasting any time. She intended to complete her move in 2017. I’m sure she’s not alone.

And although Robin’s situation is not unique, she is fortunate in that she has resources that allow her to proactively move to higher ground. Around the world, many people will not have that opportunity. We are likely to see massive migrations of climate refugees this century.

And just thinking about that scenario is both tragic and overwhelming. We are past the time to get a price on carbon that will allow us to transition to a new energy economy. But as they say, better late than never.

 

 

 

 

Vegetable Planting Guide by Month for South Florida Gardeners

Gardens can be planted year-round in Florida, but fall is the preferred seed-planting season. Below is a planting guide published by the University of Florida/IFAS with recommendations for vegetable planting by month.

Many factors influence the productivity of a garden -including; soil quality, water, drainage, amount of available sunlight, nutrients and integrated pest management. We’ll explore some of these in later posts. Happy Planting!

January

February

March

April

May

June

BeetsBroccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Collards

Corn

Chinese Cabbage

Endive

English & Southern Peas

Escarole

Eggplant

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Parsley

Peppers

Potatoes

Radish

Spinach

Summer & Winter Squash

Tomatoes

Turnips

BeetsCantaloupes

Carrots

Collards

Corn

Cucumbers

Eggplant

English & Southern Peas

Kohlrabi

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Okra

Peppers

Radish

Summer & Winter Squash

Sweet Corn

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Turnips

Watermelon

CantaloupesCucumbers

Corn

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Okra

Peas (Southern)

Peppers

Radish

Summer Squash

Sweet Potatoes

Tomatoes

Watermelon

Lima, Pole & Bush BeansSweet Potatoes

Peas (Southern)

Black-Eyed Peas

Sweet Potatoes

Watermelon

Cassava

Chayote

Cherry Tomatoes

Chinese Yams

Malanga

Pigeon Pea

Pumpkin

Sweet Potatoes

July

August

September

October

November

December

CassavaChayote

Malanga

Summer Squash

Yard Long Beans

CantaloupesCarrots

Collards

Corn

Eggplant

Escarole

Lima & Pole Beans

Mustard

Onions

Okra

Peppers

Potatoes

Radish

Summer Spinach

Summer Squash

Tomatoes (larger fruit varieties)

Watermelon

BroccoliCabbage

Cantaloupes

Collards

Corn

Cucumber

Eggplant

Endive

English & Southern Peas

Lettuce

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Onions

Okra

Parsley

Peppers

Potatoes

Tomatoes (larger fruit varieties)

Summer & Winter Squash

Watermelon

BeetsBroccoli

Cabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Collards

Corn

Cucumber

Eggplant

Endive

English & Southern Peas

Escarole

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Lima , Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Parsley

Peppers

Potatoes

Radish

Spinach

Strawberries

Summer Squash

Tomatoes (larger fruit varieties)

Turnips

BeetsBroccoli

Cabbage (regular & Chinese)

Carrots

Cauliflower

Collards

Corn

Cucumber

Endive

English & Southern Peas

Escarole

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Parsley

Peppers

Potatoes

Radish

Spinach

Strawberries

Tomatoes (larger fruit varieties)

Turnips

BroccoliCabbage

Carrots

Cauliflower

Chinese Cabbage

Collards

Corn

Cucumber

Endive

English & Southern Peas

Escarole

Eggplant

Kohlrabi

Lettuce

Lima, Pole, & Bush Beans

Mustard

Onions

Parsley

Peppers

Potatoes

Radish

Spinach

Strawberries

Tomatoes (larger fruit varieties)

Turnips

This book is by James Stephens, a professor in horticultural studies at the University of Florida. It is well illustrated and an excellent reference guide for vegetable gardening in Florida.

 

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Dry Season Returns & Broward Commission Considers 2-day-a-Week Watering Restrictions

Update: January 12, 2010 Broward Commission Unanimously Pass 2-Day Week Water Restrictions with an Eye Toward Enforcement http://bit.ly/7PA6iB

Most residents in South Florida realize we have two seasons; rainy and dry. Yet, how many realize what a precarious water dance we do?

According to the South Florida Water Management District, Florida receives an average annual rainfall of 53 inches, making it one of the wettest states in the US. Except, in the central and southern part of the state, most of this rain falls during just four summer months with much of it lost to evaporation. Because of this, the region is prone to extreme weather conditions of flood and drought.

Global warming is likely to exacerbate those extremes. During the rainy season, increases in temperatures caused by climate change will lead to higher evaporation rates and more intense rainfall events. We are also likely to see more record drought years. The 2008-2009 South Florida dry season became the third driest on record dating back to 1932. 2006 and 2007 were the driest back-to-back calendar years.

Amazingly, the latest US Geological Survey water use report shows South Floridians average per capita water use of 179 gallons per day! This exceeds that of any other part of Florida, and is twice the national average.  In Broward County, this could equate to as much as 322 million gallons of water per day. It is estimated that half of that goes to water our lawns (with more than 50 percent of irrigation water lost to evaporation and runoff due to overwatering).

In a recent email to residents, Commissioner Kristin Jacobs said, “Continuing to use water in this way will undoubtedly lead to seriously adverse consequences for not only our residents, but also the Everglades – which occupy two thirds of Broward County – and our sole source of potable water, the Biscayne Aquifer.”

At the Tuesday, December 8, 2009 County Commission meeting, the Broward Commission will be considering enactment of a permanent, year-round, two day per week landscape irrigation water conservation ordinance. Nearby, Miami-Dade and Lee counties have already implemented permanent two day a week year-round watering restrictions.

You are key to passing this ordinance. If you live in Broward County, tell your Commissioner that you want them to protect our water resources.

Commissioner Telephone Number Email Address
Commissioner Ilene Lieberman, District 1 (954) 357-7001 ilieberman@broward.org
Commissioner Kristin D. Jacobs, District 2 (954) 357-7002 kjacobs@broward.org
County Mayor Stacy Ritter, District 3 (954) 357-7003 sritter@broward.org
County Vice Mayor Ken Keechl, District 4 (954) 357-7004 kkeechl@broward.org
Commissioner Lois Wexler, District 5 (954) 357-7005 lwexler@broward.org
Commissioner Sue Gunzburger, District 6 (954) 357-7006 sgunzburger@broward.org
Commissioner John E. Rodstrom, Jr., District 7 (954) 357-7007 jrodstrom@broward.org
Commissioner Diana Wasserman-Rubin, District 8 (954) 357-7008 dwassermanrubin@broward.org
District 9 (954) 357-7009 cymartin@broward.org
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