Senator Bill Nelson Brings Miami Beach's Flooding Problems to the Senate Floor
"This is downtown Miami Beach. You see the fella?" asked Nelson. "It's above his ankles. And he's up on the curb. Right here is the curb. He steps down and it comes up just below his knee."
The political conversation about sea-level rise up in the nation's capital is a farce. However, down here in South Florida, we're literally starting to slowly drown. That's been evident over the past few days as the high tides brought on by the supermoon has shut down major roads in the city.
Meanwhile, there are still some politicians in D.C. who think climate change is some sort of conspiracy theory. Donald Trump, who is currently in first place in the race for the GOP's presidential nomination, has a history of tweeting stuff like this:
This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps,and our GW scientists are stuck in ice— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 2, 2014
The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 6, 2012
However, scenes like this on Miami Beach are happening multiple times a year.
It didn't always used to be that way, obviously. Miami Beach did not become a world-renowned tourist destination by regularly being under inches of water multiple times a year.
And while Senator Marco Rubio, a guy who is actually from Miami-Dade, remains wishy-washy on the issue of climate change, Florida's other senator, Bill Nelson, has been trying to get his colleagues to take notice.
Last year, he brought members of the Senate's Commerce Department to Miami Beach to discuss the flooding, but that didn't seem to help convince his colleagues. Following this week's flooding, he decided to remind the legislative body of the very real issue.
"I want to talk about whats happening to our environment in South Florida as a result of sea-level rise," began Nelson. "Now we can put this in the political context of climate change, but that seems to be an issue that some want to deny. So I want to talk about what you can't deny, and that is that the sea is rising particularly as shown in South Florida."
Nelson also brought out pictures — many of which, coincidentally, you can see collected here — to drive the issue home.
"This is downtown Miami Beach. You see the fella? It's above his ankles. And he's up on the curb. Right here is the curb. He steps down and it comes up just below his knee. You see the cars. You see the water. That's downtown Miami Beach," Nelson said while pointing to one photo. "This is not just the phenomenon of the big full moon. This is the phenomenon of sea-level rise."
Nelson then went on to give his colleagues a lesson in basic science, explaining that greenhouse gases are trapping more heat in our atmosphere. He also managed to work in a part about the time he went to space on a shuttle.
Sea-level rise, particularly in Miami Beach, is only expected to get worse. A recent study suggests that the be could be flooded a total of 260 days a year by 2045. That may be a projection, but science (and anyone who has lived on the beach for a long time) also confirms that flooding has dramatically gotten worse in recent years.