Just a friendly reminder: In 110 years, Miami as we know it will be a nearly ruined, flooded wasteland thanks to rising sea levels. That's one of the hypotheses of University of Washington professor and popular science writer Peter D. Ward's latest book, The Flooded Earth. The introductory chapter is titled "Miami Beached," and it's an apocalyptic vision of Miami succumbed to a ten-foot rise in sea level. The particulars of Ward's Miami nightmare are a thing of fiction, but the threat of a major rise in sea level wrecking the city, he says, is an unstoppable fact.
Ward sees Miami circa 2120 as a city sacrificed to the sea by the federal government. Faced with a ten-foot rise in sea level, the United States is forced to decide which seaboard cities to save. Miami isn't one of them.
Miami Beach lays in ruin. Only a strip of land between Collins and Washington avenues remains above water. The art deco hotels and neon nightclubs have long since been washed away. The five main bridges to the mainland have been severed.
Miami itself is a mess. It's now basically an island with no major road or rail connections to the rest of the nation. The airport, too, is now a lake.
There's little civil order, many of the new lakes are loaded with pollutants, and fresh water is scarce. With septic tanks useless, the stench of human waste wafts through the humid air.
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The only way the city survives economically is through, of course, the drug trade. Even in the throes of a slow geographic death, Miami still thrives on cocaine.
Yes! This is from a science book, and you can read the entire "Miami Beached" section of the text in an Amazon preview.
The particulars are imagined, but in an interview with Salon, Ward is adamant that rises in sea level will threaten civilization. A rise of ten feet in the next century is on the higher end of the prediction, but even the most optimistic scientists predict we'll see at least three feet in the next 100 years.
"You can kiss Miami and Galveston goodbye, and those low-lying areas around Houston. All the Gulf cities. New Orleans, of course, is among the most endangered. I think by 2200, each of those will be in the throes of being abandoned, if not already abandoned," Wade says.