Below is a series of posts on Climate Change and the effects on Florida

Sea-Level Rise A Fact, A Political Foot Ball, a Growing Business

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
  In Search of RobinSo You Want to Blog.

If you’re looking for someone to solve the climate-change  problem as it relates to you, you might want to look in the mirror.

This is the first in a random series of Posts that look at the issues of climate change and especially sea-level rise.
There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is real, that the earth is warming, that sea levels are rising and that the next three decades could reveal catastrophic results in Florida from the impact of these factors.
Everywhere you look Climate change, and sea-level rise are issues being trumpeted by many, for example: The Union of Concerned Scientists: Under Water: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate(2018).
Quoting from the UCSS Report: “States with the most homes at risk by the end of the century are Florida, with about 1 million homes (more than 10% of the state's current residential properties); New Jersey, with 250,000 homes; and New York with 143,000 homes."
This is just one of the growing numbers of scientifically based reports that indicate that more than any state, Florida may be more at risk for major coastal property loss if the climatic change and sea level predictions are even close to being accurate.
Here is a link to a number of Florida sea level change maps: Florida Sea Level changes maps.
Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a substantial increase to the budget line item that studies sea level impacts, but the question is what can we do now to begin to prepare for this almost certain change?
At the moment, development in the most likely affected areas is continuing at a feverish pace. More homes, towns are cities are being developed directly in the path what appears to be an impending disaster.
As the water level rises in these areas near the coast, residents will look to local and state government for an answer. Never mind the fact that making the decision to move to one these areas were of their own making.
 Already we are hearing talk of building levees and other systems to protect these currently low-lying areas, but one only has to look across the Gulf to New Orleans to see the futility of trying to hold back the effects of sea and wind.
The politicians who deny Climate Change are chastised as being unrealistic, while those embracing the concept of climate change and rising sea levels offer no serious solutions to the problem. They want carbon taxes, and fines on contributors to the climate-change  problem but offer few if any real applications for those additional dollars.
The real solution to the massive impact may lie more at the state and local levels with their ability to control and limit growth in highly vulnerable areas.
At some point, the property insurance industry will begin to assess this risk as it relates to the vulnerability of coastal properties and begin adjusting rates accordingly. While this may slow growth, it will not solve the problem.
Elected Officials will have to make the decision to protect lives and mitigate losses realizing certain areas are no long suitable for development or redevelopment and act accordingly. 

The hue and cry from all sides will be all but unbearable.
The Bay Area finds itself in cross hairs of the discussions and the reality of a sea-level rise.
The real question may not be what will the politicians do but what will you do?
Will you sit it out and wait until your property asset value is virtually gone and the water is lapping at your door, or will you quietly take your equity and move to a place where the likelihood of that equity floating away is significantly less?
If you’re looking for someone to solve the climate-change  problem as it relates to you, you might want to look in the mirror.
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Sea-Level Rise A Fact, A Political Foot Ball, a Growing Business Part 2
Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
If you want to get a hint as to how we are actually approaching sea-level rise simply Google: sea level rise what are we doing.
This should be an eye-opener for you. Note the links presented by Google. Try to find one link that provides any detailed information on a practical scale for what we are or should be doing.
Lots of so-called scientific facts, links about making money (Carbon credits), facts about the sea-level rise but no links to plans or serious suggestions about what citizens, local
governments or state governments should be doing right now.
The problem is the two groups most interested in this issue are the politicians who like to bash each other about their opponent's position for or against, believing in climate change or being a “denier” and the group looking to exploit the climate change/sea rise level rise for the maximum about of money they can literally steal.
From solar panels to carbon credits, this latter group is much more interested in your money than the security of your waterfront property.
When the public gets in trouble the first place, they usually look is to their local government for help. When that fails, they may look to their county or parish, and then to the state and ultimately to the federal government.
The problem is none of these entities are taking any practical steps to mitigate what will be a sociological and economic catastrophe.
In fact, the two levels of government best positioned to begin to mitigate the impact of sea-level rise, cities and counties, are, generally, doing more to deepen the actual crisis than they are helping to prevent it.
By continuing to allow massive development of coastal and low-lying areas these local governments are stoking the flames of their own destruction.
Cities and counties along the coastal portions of the united states continue to let development of coastal and low-lying areas happen at a frightening pace.
When the sea-level rise becomes an obvious reality, the developers will be long gone but those owning the soon to be flooded property will come to their local government demanding the problem be fixed. Quite likely there will be no fix since nothing is currently being planned and chaos will ensue.
Property values will tank; property tax revenue will take a major hit, and the very resources needed to even think about mitigation of the flooding will no longer exist.
Is it time to begin limiting coastal and low-lying area development? Time to begin to move people back away from the areas now indicated by sound science that will flood as sea levels rise. Time to stop building massive high-rise developments at the water’s edge.
You may be reading this thinking: not my problem. I don’t own any of that property, and I simply won’t buy any. The problem with that kind of thinking is the magnitude of this problem will be so great that it will impact government revenue from educating your kids to providing basic public services.
No matter who you are your property tax will go up, because unless we take some preventative steps now the cost of resolving this problem in real time could crush the system of government as we now know it.
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Sea Level Rise – Where the real battle will be waged? Part 3


Tampa Bay, FlOpinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
It all starts very simply. You live or have your business on the coast. At super-high tide you notice, there is some water in the street. In a year or so the same tide is now up in your yard or over the sidewalk in front of your business.
 Next year, there is some water in your garage, or you show up to open for business, there is about an inch of water on the floor. No real problem you call your insurance company to file a small claim, they pay the claim and 30 days later cancel your insurance. Try as hard as you can you cannot find an insurance carrier will now write you a policy.
 National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Note the year of the referenced report: 1992
Source: Sea Level Rise Issues And Potential Management Options For Local Governments 1992

Established in 1968 the program is administered by the Federal Insurance Administration which is component of FEMA.
Real Dangers of Sea Level  Rise - E. Eugene Webb PhD
“The program was intended to prevent or discourage unwise development but in fact, development has actually been encouraged by the availability of subsidized insurance. Rising sea level and the continuation of the NFIP will result in increased government spending of federal tax dollars to provide insurance for unwise development to a very small percentage of the population.”
Probably sooner rather than later, the Federal Flood Insurance Program will be modified to limit, if not, exempt property located in the predicted sea-level rise areas.
The simple reason is the cost will be prohibitive.

Sea Level Rise Strategies for local Government
E.Eugene Webb PhD
As much as we might like to think the Federal Government, and perhaps the State Government will bail out all of us who live near the coast, the fact is they cannot and will not. While the politicians use climate change and sea-level rise to scare people and denigrate their political competition to get votes they have no big scale solution because there simply isn’t one.
Sea-level rise is ultimately a local issue affecting thousands of communities and millions of people. When the streets begin to flood at high tide, and what once was a marsh is now a bay with gradually rising water, when wastewater treatment plants conveniently located next to water ways are inundated the battle will be lost.
There is a no more formidable enemy than the ocean history has shown us that fact.
The questions are:
  • Will cities and counties change the building and development codes to stop building in sea level endangered areas?
  • Will cities and counties commit resources to buy back lands endangered by the sea-level rise?
  • Is there enough political courage to take on big developers?
  • When will the property insurers stop insuring property in predicted sea level flood zones?
  • Will the Federal Government insure these properties and protect the owners?
  • Who will actually pay the final tab for the sea-level rise – the property owners or all of us?
  • In the final analysis, as the sea level rises and people begin to find themselves with property, homes and business that they cannot get insured, occupy or sell what will they do?
  • Turn to the politicians? Their solution is hiring another consultant.
  • Turn to the insurance companies? They will have long ago lobbied in laws to protect themselves.
  • Turn to the scientist for a fix? They will simply say, “We warned for over a decade.”
  • So, what can you do?
For now, becoming aware of where your property is located in the sea-level flooding data is a good start. If you are already noticing what look like menacing high tides, it may be time to think about relocating.

Sea-level rise is not about “if” is about “when." You need to take the steps to protect your investment in your business and home now.
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A Tale of Two Cities and Sea-Level Rise - St. Petersburg

First - St. Petersburg, Florida

Tampa Bay, Fl   
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD                                 
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Now  a look at two bay area cities and their view and approach to sea-level rise. First St. Petersburg...
St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has made a big issue out of Climate change.
Unfortunately, most of his concerns are more political than practical.
What is important is the fact that Kriseman’s efforts have been more politically grandiose than effective and in reality, his actions would indicate a complete lack of understanding of the primary impact of climate change on Florida: sea-level rise and storm surge due to tropical storms.
Here is a quote from a Kriseman Campaign Flyer: “Because of the dangers climate change poses to our city, I pledged to transition St. Pete to a 100% clean energy city. We are preparing for rising seas, volatile weather, and increases in the number of powerful storms.”
If Kriseman and his administration were actually capable of reaching that goal, which they are not, it is unlikely that it would stop the water rising in Tampa Bay.
High tide flooding is already prevalent along the downtown coast line of St. Petersburg and will continue to get worse.
Clean energy and “carbon footprint” are two of the key buzz words in the climate-change  argument. These two terms are invoked by politicians because they are the mechanisms' whereby massive amounts of money can be made by prospective large campaign contributors.
Let’s look at two of the most glaring examples of Kriseman's real sea-level rise position.
If you really believe in climate change, then you must accept the fact that the sea level is going to rise.
When you are the Mayor of a low-lying coastal City, your climate-change concerns should be how do I protect my City practically and financially. And how do I make development decisions that are not compromised by the impending results of climate change over the next two decades.
Downtown development – Pier Park
Kriseman has pushed the $20+ million development of Pier Park, which essentially sets at sea level. Was that a wise utilization of public funds?
Thinking in the climate change/sea rise level rise community says that Beach Drive will likely be somewhere between 2nd and 3rd Avenue if the sea-level rise predictions are even close to being accurate.
Maybe a better expenditure of those funds would have been to begin to set aside funds to buy back coastal lands to eliminate the impending disaster.
Renewable energy, green buildings and all the rest of the climate-change hoopla make great political fodder, but a Mayor, who believes that the climate is actually changing will not waste his taxpayer’s money on things the results of climate change and sea-level rise may swallow well before the end of their useful life.
Wastewater treatment – The South West Wastewater Plant
Kriseman must not bother to read his own press clippings.
The South West Wastewater treatment plant literally sets at sea level. However, he is pouring millions into this sea level endangered facility and making plans for it to become the major wastewater treatment facility for the entire City.
What happened to his climate-change argument in this scenario?
More importantly what will St. Pete do when the water level starts to rise at the South West plant, or a major storm surge makes it inoperable?
That’s a climate change/sea rise level rise question that deserves an answer.
These are just two of the sea level rise issues Rick Kriseman has created while he “worries” about climate change.
Climate change with Rick Kriseman is the same as it is with all Democrat politicians. It is a great stump speech issue, but when it comes down to applying the climate-change problem to real-life decisions, Rick Kriseman simply does not have the will.
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A Tale of Two Cities and Sea-Level Rise - Tampa

Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
I wrap up my sea-level rise series for now with a look at two bay area cities and their view and approach to sea-level rise. Now a look at Tampa
You can get some additional information in this Post from Florida Politics (FLPOL) By Janelle Irwin Taylor: Jane Castor wants Tampa to go 100% clean energy by 2045.
You can see more from Mayor Castor’s campaign Sustainability and Resilience Plan by clicking this link.
Here is the Section dealing with Sea-Level rise:
“Tackling Stormwater Management and Sea Level Rise – While the City has
taken meaningful steps to increase stormwater funding, many projects
remain in the pipeline. As Mayor, I will work with City Council to prioritize
funding for stormwater upgrades. I also recognize that flooding and sea
level rise threaten many properties in Tampa. Our new City of Tampa
Climate Action and Resilience Plan will address the impacts of sea level rise
and recommend solutions for coastal resilience, such as the
implementation of living shorelines and utilizing green infrastructure where

 From Mayor Castor’s 2020 Budget Presentation here are her Strategic Goals for Tampa:






If you scroll down to page 35 of the Budget presentation you get to the Section on “Sustainability and Resilience for Tampa’s Future.” What follows are five pages of what is essentially Climate-change political jargon.
Castor would establish an “Office of Sustainability” which will simply produce more reports, hire more consultants and next year everything will be pretty much the same except; high tide flooding will be worse in Tampa’s low-lying areas.
Here again, climate change works as a campaign banner but the reality of sea-level rise and its effect on the City of Tampa practically and financially has no mention by the Mayor.
In less than two decades the map in the graphic above will begin to become a serious reality. If Castor could accomplish her goal of reducing Tampa’s Carbon footprint as she states, there is every reason to believe that the sea level in 10 years will be exactly as it would have been without that effort.
The massive impact of low-lying property flooding and the subsequent reduction in property value and ad valorem tax revenue on Tampa’s economy and the City’s financial viability should be the number-one focus of this office of sustainability and a principal concern of the Mayor.
Granted, it won’t happen on her watch, but the failure to accept the fact and plan for the effects of the sea-level rise could well define Mayor Castor’s legacy.
Castor needs to be careful to not be misled by developers wanting to build seawalls and consultants proposing massive public works plans to hold back the waters of Tampa Bay with dams and dykes for two very simple reasons. 1)They are way to expensive to build and maintain even with help from the federal government and 2) they simply will not work in the long run.
Castor needs to step up and make sure her administration is not just investing in things that look good on a campaign flyer while the sea level continues to rise.
The Mayor should immediately begin to develop and fund an effort to acquire low lying property, demolish the structures and replace them with green space.
Governor DeSantis has already set aside state funds to help in this effort, and Tampa should take a lead in lobbying for more state and federal funds for low lying property acquisition.
Castor also needs the courage to stop all development in areas defined as sea level endangered immediately. It is political dangerous and could well cost her re election but stopping the continued development and redevelopment of endangered land is an absolute necessity.
Castor like all other mayors of coastal communities needs to stop being influenced by the climate-change rhetoric of renewable energy and carbon footprint and start looking into the reality of how they will deal with a slow rising disaster that will wreck her City’s economy and bankrupt Tampa's government.
Let the power companies worry about renewable energy, and if you really want to deal with the carbon footprint, replace every 5th parking meter with a charging station and let economics solve the carbon footprint problem.
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Are Seawalls the real answer to Florida’s Sea-Level Rise problem?


As many states struggle with the looming impact of sea-level rise, Florida stands out as the state with the biggest problem.

Tampa Bay, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD 

Sea-level rise will be a major issue in the Tampa Bay region, with reports estimating the impact in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties could reach over $5 billion in the coming years.

Here is more information on the coming sea-level rise problem from the Tampa Bay Times by Kirby Wilson: Florida could face $76 billion in climate change costs by 2040, report says.
The Tampa Bay Times article focuses on seawalls and only makes a casual reference to the possibility the seawalls may not be the total answer.

The real questions to ask at this point is this large scale highly costly public works effort at holding back the sea:
1. Will they really work?
2. What is the ongoing cost and maintenance?
3. Can they ever be constructed high enough to protect from storm surge and remain in tack?
4. Who stands to profit from these massive public works projects?

Here is some additional information.

Reports and studies like the one in the Tampa Bay Times article are being floated about by the rapidly growing Sea-Level rise industry that will bring massive construction  projects to local, county, state and federal governments and agencies in an attempt to create what could likely challenge the interstate highway system in size, level of effort and cost.

Public works projects such as seawalls of the size and scope necessary to mitigate the projected sea level impact may not be effective.

An article from Yale Coastal Connections by Jan Ellen Spiegel:
As Sea Levels Rise, How Best to Protect Coasts details some of the concerns and impacts of man made solid coastal barriers.

As sea-level rise begins to attack the affluent seaside neighborhoods, coastal high-rise developments and coastal communities, the cry will be to save this private property from the rising water. These pleas will be delivered to all levels of government and the pressure to make the attempt to hold back the inevitable will be immense.

In the not too distant future, the Federal Flood Insurance program must begin to remove these projected flooding areas from coverage, or it will quickly go bankrupt. Private insurance carriers too will need to make changes to protect themselves from a known property loss risk.

As the sea-level rise process continues, the lack of insurance coverage and rapidly dropping property values will make selling and financing properties in sea-level rise areas all but impossible.

Governments at all levels must be aware of the consequences of investing in sea walls or other physical barriers to protect specific pieces of private property.

The time has come to restrict flood prone area development and redevelopment, to begin to set aside funds to acquire low level lying property and convert it to green space to mitigate the financial impact of the sea-level rise.

The financial impacts of climate change and sea-level rise in Florida are significant as indicated in the article referenced above.

It is time to apply some common sense before we begin building seawalls.

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