A recent report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that sea levels are rising in certain areas of Florida by a third of an inch per year – or more. Not just the actual level, but even the rate of sea level rise is increasing. This is happening while the population of Florida continues to grow, including in the city that is considered most at risk for sea level rise – Miami. While population and real estate investment continue to swell in Florida, many cities are putting their energy and resources toward a new kind of development, one that is more resilient. In particular, the City of Miami Beach is investing millions of dollars in elevating over a hundred miles of roads and installing more storm water pumps .
Will such proactive efforts be enough? Perhaps to get ahead, we should look to those who have been ahead of the flooding issue for decades. In the Netherlands, a country that is mostly below sea level, acceptance of rising water levels as a fact of life has led to innovative modern solutions. Perhaps we can learn from the Dutch, who built a massive storm surge barrier 20 years ago, and who claim to be prepared for the 10,000 year flood.
One innovative approach to living with rising seas that is taking root elsewhere is the concept of floating cities. This concept is currently being developed in French Polynesia. As Florida’s coastal communities embrace the challenge and further incentivize innovative coastal developments, we may see some surprisingly creative marvels in the near future. Innovative development projects and coastal land development planning would not only help the millions of people living near Florida’s shorelines, but could also lead the way for other coastal population centers in the U.S. and throughout the world.