The sea has been rising off and on for thousands of years. Sea level rise itself is not news, and fluctuations are normal. Viewed by geologic standards, the rate of rise in our region up until recently was relatively stable. That is, humans settling our area thousands and even hundreds of years ago could safely assume that the water’s edge would remain where it was. Even up into the 1980s, given what we knew, coastal development according to local zoning and code did not need to be overly concerned with the sea.
Gradual change at our shoreline is news. An acceleration of the rate of rise in sea level is the concern. With our location on a peninsula, our flat topography, our porous geology and dense coastal development, we are vulnerable. Whether you agree that it is a permanent shift in the pattern, or whether you think it is all part of a natural cycle that will eventually shift back, the situation is still the same. For the foreseeable future, at least for this century and into the next, Fort Lauderdale and our neighbors will need to adapt to a rising sea and to a rate of rise that will require significant public and private action.
Over the past several years, City of Fort Lauderdale leadership has been studying the data, planning according to sound, scientifically-based projections, and taking action in cooperation with regional partners. The problem of sea level rise is complex and the effects can be far-reaching, but learning about the challenge gives us clues to what needs to be done. There are actions the City must take and things that individuals can do as well. Whether you live, work, study or visit in Fort Lauderdale, you can do your part to mitigate and adapt by focusing on water conservation, sustainable construction, emergency preparedness and lowering your overall carbon footprint. Start by getting the facts. Here are the questions we asked and the information you should know: