Climate change is real.
Most people in South Florida understand that things are changing in the local environment as the king tides seem to be getting worse, and as Hurricane Irma showed, we are at serious threat for more dangerous storm surge due to sea level rise.
Again, most people in this town believe that climate change is real.
Sadly, a glaring falsehood about what happens to certain Miami neighborhoods during king tides will only muddy the waters and give climate change deniers more ammunition in their fight to ignore reality.
Rolling Stone excerpted a few thousand word section of a freshly released book by one of its writers, Jeff Goodell.
The book, The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World seems like an interesting and important read.
Full disclosure: I have not had the chance to read it.
Goodell seems to be a top notch reporter who has spent a great deal of time on the ground researching the book.
But, how can he explain this, from the excerpt?:
“In Miami Beach, streets are being elevated and LEED-certified condo towers are rising, but in low-income neighborhoods like Miami Shores, you have to walk through shit-filled water every time a big tide arrives.”
A few points here.
One: to anyone who has even spent a few hours traveling around South Florida would realize, Miami Shores is not a “low-income neighborhood”.
VIDEO: storm surge caused by Hurricane Irma in Miami Shores:
Miami Shores is geographically close to some of the poorest areas of Miami-Dade County, but the village itself is considered a wealthy one.
Census data shows that the median value of owner-occupied housing units in Miami Shores is $397,800.
The county average?
When looking at various Census data points, Miami Shores (on a per capita basis) could be considered wealthier than Miami Beach.
Look at median household income.
Miami Shores- $97,500.
Miami Beach- $44,342.
Miami-Dade County- $43,129.
Sorry to be a stickler, but when dealing with such an important crisis, all the facts matter.
Now, on to the second and far more important point.
Just to recap:
“…in low-income neighborhoods like Miami Shores, you have to walk through shit-filled water every time a big tide arrives.”
That is just not true.
I grew up in Miami Shores and my family has lived in the community for nearly 40 years.
None of us have ever heard of raw sewage flooding the streets during king tides.
A king tide just happened last week.
There were no reports of “shit filled water” flooding the area.
This is not to say that Miami Shores doesn’t have a shit problem.
In the village council election that took place in April, candidate Eddie Lewis made the potential for climate change induced septic issues, a centerpiece of his campaign. (The point was largely ignored by local voters.)
But he wasn’t talking about it as a current issue.
Lewis was projecting into the future and arguing for a proactive solution to tackle climate change issues before they arise.
Miami Shores, like many old South Florida neighborhoods, doesn’t have a municipal sewer system for the over 3,000 homes in the community.
Instead, it relies on an expensive and fragile septic tank and drain field systems.
This can be extremely problematic if the ground around the tank becomes overly saturated with water.
As Quartz explained in a poop primer piece published prior to the pummeling from Hurricane Irma:
“Backed up toilets are also becoming a more common occurrence. The waste produced by about a third of the people going to the bathroom any given day in Florida (that includes tourists) goes into a septic tank. In order for a tank to do its job, there needs to be room for the liquid portion of the waste to slowly filter down into the ground. When groundwater levels go up, though, they push the waste back up, sometimes resulting in a poop flood.”
Again, Miami Shores probably does have a real long-term problem here.
Florida had a raw sewage crisis unfold after Hurricane Irma.
And the Biscayne Waterkeeper recently discovered a pipe in Biscayne Bay that is spewing raw sewage into the water at a potential rate of millions of gallons a day.
And its been spewing for over a year.
So we’ve got real problems down here man.
We know it.
If we don’t get the world to make serious changes, there is a good chance that the place that we love will become Atlantis.
But, that’s why we need to stick to facts and not get sucked into hyperbole.
I’m sure that Goodell just made a mistake, and we’ll give him the chance to clear it up.
But climate change deniers take every mistake and twist them to undermine the overall reality.
We can’t let that happen.
Otherwise, we’ll end up drowning in the shit.