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Flooding, a Miami Vice
Miami floods conclusively cause climate-change hysteria.

Ankle-deep in angst, October 2012 (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

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Can the Miami ocean and sky do their stormy-Florida thing without summoning a tempest of worried climate-change prophets cowering in their slickers?

Seasonal Miami flooding has recently been called a direct consequence of climate change, depicted with sinister language such as “walls of seawater,” “corrosive,” and “ever-rising waters” reaching “Old Testament” proportions.

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Robin McKie, science editor for the Guardian, observed that high spring and autumn tides spill annually over the west banks of Miami Beach and fill storm drains and gutters, sometimes flooding streets. The effect, he writes, “is calamitous,” ruining cars and blocking the way to shops and houses.

Miami is susceptible to this flooding, McKie explains, because of its geology. Ocean water pools in the pores of Floridian limestone. Beachside condos lie perilously close to the edge of the sea, with little land reaching over six feet above sea level. The majority of U.S. citizens who live at an elevation of four feet or less reside in south Florida.

The facts that McKie believes signal a climate change disaster are more like typical features of flat beachfront property in a hurricane-prone part of the world.

But there’s more to the Miami climate-change argument. McKie quotes Harold Wanless, a geology professor at the University of Miami, who cites a ten-inch rise in sea levels over the past two centuries. Wanless predicts the sea level will increase much more in much less time, perhaps rising ten feet in the next 85 years.

Indeed, McKie said Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio has “refused to act or respond to warnings” of resident experts such as Wanless. Although $1.5 billion is being invested in projects aimed at stemming the rising tides, McKie laments that “few scientists believe [these efforts] will have a long-term effect.”

It would take the proverbial heart of stone not to laugh at McKie’s dire warnings, coming as they do after President Obama’s scientific conclusion that global warming is also causing the drought in California — a state that until this year was apparently as green as Ireland and famous for its mighty lowland watersheds, daily thundershowers, and vast rain forests.

The flooding in Miami is “not a climate change thing, nothing like that,” National Hurricane Center spokesman Dennis Feltgen told National Review Online. “This is our rainy season.”

Miami has experienced a particularly wet June and early July, according to Feltgen, but the heavy rain causing the flooding is not new or unprecedented. Urban flooding is a common Miami phenomenon, and this season hasn’t been abnormal.

An article in Time magazine reacted to McKie’s portentous piece. While affirming the reality of climate change, Michael Grunwald said the problems wreaked by Florida floods have been inconvenient at worst, calling the Guardian article an example of “yellow climate journalism.”

Grunwald said that McKie “also claims that the water then ‘surges across the rest of the island,’ which simply isn’t true.”

Changes in Florida sea level aren’t unprecedented. One study in the Journal of Coastal Research shows that the best measurement methods indicate the Sunshine State’s sea level has fluctuated above and below its present position constantly for the past 3,000 to 5,000 years.

A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study of the causes of flooding in the Miami area found that surface wind stress, rather than temperature or melting glaciers, is “the most important force that affects ocean water levels in a coastal flood situation along the west-central coast of Florida.” Tides overflow into the low land of Miami Beach because it’s really, really windy on the ocean there.

The causal factors involved in any instance of inclement weather are complex, and regarding climate change, they are inconclusive.

— Celina Durgin is a Franklin Center intern at National Review Online.


Here Comes Global Warming!
Every week brings a new headline from climate alarmists about some crisis or social upheaval that global warming will allegedly cause. Here’s a look at recent claims — some scientific, some less so — about the impending calamities, cataclysms, and just plain inconveniences facing the human race.
INFIDELITY: Steamy climates may push married couples to seek out their own steamy situations. The dating website Victoria Milan — which specializes in “Discrete dating for married & attached” people” — surveyed 5,000 of its members and found that 72% cited scare stories about global warming as the cause of extramarital dalliances. Causation? Or just convenient correlation?
REDHEADS: Among other great natural wonders in danger from the blazing sun is the Scottish redhead. According to Dr. Alistair Moffat at ScotlandsDNA, red hair is an adaptation to the northern European climate, and increasing sunshine will result in fewer people carrying the rare redhead gene. For now at least, about 13% of Scots are redheads, compared to just 1-2% in other populations.
AGGRESSION: Numerous studies have linked warmer temps to increased aggression, caused by everything from general discomfort increasing irritability to the fact that people are outside more often and interacting. A study from Iowa State University claimed the murder and assault rate will jump by 100,000 incidents a year. So whatever you do about global warming, just don't get mad.
FRENCH WINE: Climate change will shift the locations of prime wine-producing vineyards, potentially toppling French vintners from their top spot in the wine world in favor of more northern climes such as England. Higher temperatures mean grapes with lower acidity and higher sugar content, making for what CNBC calls more “cloying” wines. Sacré Bleu!
AMERICAN WINE: In a similar vein, rising average temperatures could move wine production from the storied vineyards of California north to Oregon and east to, wait for it, New Jersey. Whether this is a catastrophe depends on your willingness to savor wine with a painting of Snooki or JWoww on the bottle.
COFFEE: The fuel of modern civilization is already grown in some of the world’s warmest and humid regions, but rising temperatures — and the droughts and insect blooms they bring — could impact crops, and Starbucks’s bottom line, according to Prevention.
CHOCOLATE: Climate change could impact the global production of chocolate, as higher temperatures affect the cocoa farms of Western Africa, according to Prevention, citing Colombian researchers. But, like wine, this could just mean cocoa farms will move elsewhere. And wherever it goes, Starbucks will find it — those chocolate frappés won’t make themselves.
BACON: Everything is better with bacon, but Prevention writes that fine food could get more expensive as climate change-related droughts (and, confusingly, flooding) affect the corn that feeds all those pigs. But we suspect this is one item that people will continue to buy no matter the price.
BASEBALL: Scientific American writes that the baseball bats used by professional sluggers may become extinct as rising temperatures affect the cop of white ash trees from which Louisville Sluggers, the brand preferred by most batsmen, are made. Then again, they could just find a different tree, hopefully one not being hugged or out for a walk in Fangorn Forest.
BLUE JEANS: Fashionable Levi’s may become a rarer sight on the catwalk, either because climate change will boost prices by impacting cotton crops or because Lefties will come to scorn the massive water consumption involved in their manufacture (according to the New York Times, some 919 gallons for each pair). Or they may just get so expensive that only climate-change celebrities can afford them.
MID-AIR TURBULENCE: Hotter air could be bumpier air, according to Prevention, citing British research that claims the average strength of turbulence on jet flights will increase by 10% to 40% by 2050. So everyone on the climate-change lecture circuit headed to another conference in Davos better buckle up.
MOUNTAINS: At the same time those melting glaciers are making sea levels rise, they will also cause mountains to get taller, according to LiveScience, arguing that as the weight of those glaciers falls, the Earth beneath is "rebounding." Heck, we knew Obama would cause the waters to recede, but this?
SATELLITES: That NSA spy satellite watching you might be getting even faster. Orbiting hundreds of miles above the Earth, satellites move through an extremely thin layer of the atmosphere, and according to Live Science, increased carbon dioxide levels will cause the higher elevations to cool, decreasing the tiny amount of drag on moving objects.
WOMEN: The title of a recent report by the United Nations advocacy group Women Watch says it all: “The Threats of Climate Change are not Gender-Neutral.” The report speculates that global warming will hurt women more than men as they are generally the ones who take care of the home and most agricultural production.
INSURANCE: Due to the tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes (not to mention the possibility of Sharknados) that are bound to spring up because of global warming, The Environmental Defense Fund regrets to inform you that your insurance premiums will rise as well. Of course, living on the beach does tend to up your chances of hurricane damage.
Updated: Jul. 16, 2014

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