| MIAMI, July 1
MIAMI, July 1 South Florida's coastal real
estate may become uninsurable as the sea level rises unless
Miami's county government takes urgent action, a task force said
"We believe that without a professionally well thought out
adaptation plan in place, we risk losing insurability and
financial support for our future," the Miami-Dade Sea Level Rise
Task Force concluded in a report.
Sea level rise is "a measurable, trackable and relentless
reality," task force Chairman Harvey Ruvin, a longtime
environmentalist and the Miami-Dade county Clerk of the Courts,
wrote in the report's introductory letter.
"It's happening, and we are ground zero," he added in an
interview, noting the vulnerability to climate change of
low-lying southeast Florida, with a population of 5.7 million.
Climate change is already impacting Florida coastal
communities, which could see a 2-foot rise in sea level by 2060,
the United States Geological Survey has warned.
Florida had recorded 5-8 inches of sea level rise in the
last 50 years, a panel of officials and scientists testified at
a Senate hearing on Miami Beach in April.
The task force, which submitted its report on Tuesday, was
created by the county commission in July 2013 to assess the
potential impacts of sea level rise for future development
The task force made six major recommendations for the
county, from the hiring of engineers to vet the county's
physical structures such as flood control barriers and pump
stations, as well as exploring methods to limit flood damage and
The task force also recommended working with the insurance
industry to develop long-term risk management solutions.
"We have to bring the insurance industry into the planning
process, otherwise the taxes that will be coming will be
punitive and prohibitive," said Ruvin, noting that the
re-insurance industry is in the process of moving from
historical data to predictive data to make its risk
Using predictive scenarios, the task force noted that the
reinsurance firm Swiss Re estimated the expected losses for
southeast Florida from severe weather ranged from $17 billion,
or 8.5 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2008, to $33 billion
or 10 percent of GDP in 2030.
However, Swiss Re calculated about $30 billion of the total
expected loss in 2050 could be avoided if a comprehensive plan
for adaptation were implemented, the task force noted.
"This is a call to action," said Nichole Hefty, head of the
county's Office of Sustainability. "There is a growing awareness
that we need to make our infrastructure more resilient."
Despite the urgency the task force said it was "optimistic"
that South Florida has a viable future.
"I don't want to sound Doomsday-ish. We do have time and the
human species has a great capacity for adaptation," said Ruvin.
"But we need to realize it's happening, we can't bury our heads
in the sand, because pretty soon we will be swimming," he added.
(Reporting by David Adams; Editing by Richard Chang)