Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Miami Herald Story On City’s Worsening Coastal Flooding Never Mentions Global Warming Or Sea Level Rise

By: Joe Romm, Think Progress
It seems nobody talks about climate change, but everybody wants to do something about it. Consider this head-in-the-wet-sand piece from the Miami Herald, “Rain or no rain, beachfront streets flood due to ‘spring tide’.” 

You probably think it would be impossible for an entire news article on worsening street flooding in Miami to omit any mention whatsoever of global warming or even sea level rise. Think again.
“It gets super flooded from the tide every couple of months,” said [Moses] Schwartz who lived on the island for more than 20 years before moving to the Brickell area on the mainland. “It’s getting worse and worse as the years go by.”
Hmm. Why is it getting worse? The Miami Herald offers no explanation. This is all it has to say about the cause of the flooding:
The current levels of high tide are caused by an astronomical event known as “spring tide,” according to Chuck Caracozza, a meteorologist from the National Weather Service.
See, nothing to worry about. It’s just high tides. Except the article runs with this quote from Schwartz:
“It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Miami Beach in 10 to 20 years,” he said.
Why? Why? Why? Why will it be interesting to see? Why does he think it’s going to get worse? Why did the reporter include that quote? No explanation is given.
Indeed, while the article fails to mention climate change or sea level rise, it does quote one “Nanette Rodriguez, a spokeswoman for the city,” explaining that Miami is studying how to deal with this apparently inexplicable plague of street flooding.
Rodriguez said the city is thinking of short-term fixes to deal with the issue.
“We’re looking at improving our sea walls and raising some of them,” she said.
In search of a long-term solution, a delegation recently returned from the Netherlands, Rodriguez said, and the city will determine which of that country’s strategies to hold back high tides can be used here.
“Some of their ideas we can do, others we can’t as we are in different geographic areas,” Rodriguez said.
That last quote from Rodriguez is quite the euphemism given the reality of the region’s topology and geology. As the must-read June Rolling Stone piece, “Goodbye, Miami,” explains:
Even worse, South Florida sits above a vast and porous limestone plateau. “Imagine Swiss cheese, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what the rock under southern Florida looks like,” says Glenn Landers, a senior engineer at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This means water moves around easily – it seeps into yards at high tide, bubbles up on golf courses, flows through underground caverns, corrodes building foundations from below. “Conventional sea walls and barriers are not effective here,” says Robert Daoust, an ecologist at ARCADIS, a Dutch firm that specializes in engineering solutions to rising seas.
But, undaunted, Rodriguez and the Miami Herald end with this reassuring line:
Rodriguez said the tide should be back to normal by early next week.
For a dose of reality, let’s end instead with the Rolling Stone piece:
But the unavoidable truth is that sea levels are rising and Miami is on its way to becoming an American Atlantis. It may be another century before the city is completely underwater (though some more-pessimistic­ scientists predict it could be much sooner), but life in the vibrant metropolis of 5.5 million people will begin to dissolve much quicker, most likely within a few decades. The rising waters will destroy Miami slowly, by seeping into wiring, roads, building foundations and drinking-water supplies – and quickly, by increasing the destructive power of hurricanes. “Miami, as we know it today, is doomed,” says Harold Wanless, the chairman of the department of geological sciences at the University of Miami. “It’s not a question of if. It’s a question of when.”
… “If you live in South Florida and you’re not building a boat, you’re not facing reality.”

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Government shutdown hinders Florida recovery


Noah Musser / KRT
Millions of us remain worse off today than we were in 2008, the first year of the recession. Last month the Census Bureau released new data that confirms what too many Florida residents already know from hard personal experience: • In 2012, more than 20.1 percent of Floridians lived in poverty (under $23,492 for a family of four) compared with just 13.2 percent in 2008.
• The poor are getting poorer and the middle class is disappearing. Many more Florida residents are making less than $35,000 annually, and many fewer are making $75,000 or more. Florida already had higher income inequality than most states.
• More than 3.8 million Floridians were uninsured in 2012.

What’s going on is hardly a mystery — there simply are not enough jobs. The national unemployment rate, 5.8 percent in 2008, today is 7.3 percent nationally and 7 percent in Florida. The underemployment rate in Florida, which also counts those who can’t get as many work hours as they want, or have given up looking for jobs altogether, is 15 percent.

Florida’s people are experiencing real hardship. Nearly one in four Florida households receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (formerly food stamps), more than double the share of Floridians in 2008.

Despite this, people still struggle to put food on the table. A Gallup poll shows that between 2008 and 2012 nearly 29 percent of Florida families with children faced food hardship — fourth worst in the nation. More than a million Floridians pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing, putting them at risk of homelessness.

Simple policy choices can protect people from the worst consequences of poverty and create future prosperity. The new Census data reveals that millions of people were kept out of poverty by SNAP benefits, unemployment insurance, and tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Food stamps protect young children from hospitalization, anemia, and problems with cognitive, social and behavioral development. Young children from families that receive the EITC do better in school and earn more as adults.
Unfortunately, Congress is jeopardizing the already slow recovery. Domestic appropriations from education to infrastructure have been cut by 15.7 percent since 2010. Now a small fraction of one party is pushing us towards economic crisis. Government shutdown and possible default pose unprecedented threats.

In Florida, cuts are already harming our most vulnerable. This year, Florida’s Head Start programs will serve 1,205 fewer children; seniors who need Meals on Wheels are put on waiting lists. Cutting these programs costs us more in the long run. Children who benefit from high quality preschool like Head Start are more successful in school and have better employment and earnings as adults. Meals on Wheels helps seniors stay at home rather than move to far more expensive nursing homes.

Florida is also ground zero in the fight over affordable healthcare. One in five Floridians has no insurance, among the worst records in the nation. Yet Florida has not enacted its own health exchange, refuses to expand Medicaid even though the cost would be borne by the federal government for years, and won’t allow navigators (who help people choose the best insurance for them) at state offices. Florida’s policies combined with battles in Congress are harming our future.

We know what it takes to rebuild the economy and help families: provide unemployment benefits for those who can’t find jobs, maintain nutrition assistance to help people make ends meet, and invest in education from the earliest years to college so workers are trained to meet the needs of a 21st century economy.

We also know how to afford these essential investments: make sure everyone, including the wealthy and big corporations, pays their fair share. Instead, a small group in Congress hopes to force another round of shortsighted cuts to programs like Head Start and Meals on Wheels, slash SNAP benefits, and eliminate the Affordable Care Act.

Nearly four years after the recession officially ended, millions of Americans are worse off than before; wealth is more concentrated at the top; the middle class is declining. We need to change that course. We at Catalyst will continue to monitor and advocate. To get to common ground we need to go to higher ground: a community that takes care of the vulnerable and gives people a hand up in times of need. Our Congress needs to lead, not defeat the public desire to keep our democracy strong and preserve shared prosperity.

Daniella Levine is the founder, President and CEO of Catalyst Miami, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing prosperity and reducing poverty in Miami-Dade.

Editor’s Note: This column has been updated with accurate information about the number of uninsured in Florida.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Affordable Care: How to Get It and How to Share It

This past Friday, Catalyst Miami partnered with Florida Blue Foundation to host "Affordable Care: How to Get It and How to Share It." Initially, we expected a maximum of 100 attendees. Surprisingly, we were joined by more than 220 guests on the day of the event! Needless to say, we had an amazing morning learning from healthcare professionals and community activists about ways we can collaborate and support the Affordable Care Act in South Florida. Thank you to all of you who joined, we hope to continue partnering in this effort. Want to see some of the highlights? Click here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Health insurance marketplace key to reform opens Tuesday


The (Affordable Care Act's) online exchanges — also known as marketplaces — are the centerpiece of healthcare reform, and they will give consumers unprecedented power to examine an extensive menu of health plans and to compare prices and benefits side by side.

For Florida, where an estimated 3.8 million people live without health insurance, the exchanges could make an especially big impact. The state ranks near the top of the nation in terms of plan choices, with an average of 102 health plans to choose from on the state’s federally run exchange.

Read more here:

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