The past year's press has seen no shortage of stories speculating on the future of South Florida as the earth's climate warms, polar regions melt, seawater expands, and sea levels rise. This week we bring you an optimistic take on the question: the remarks of Miami Beach assistant city manager Susanne Torriente, interviewed by CNN's John Sutter (see: "Can Miami Beach survive climate change?" by John D. Sutter).
Torriente is no climate change denier: Like many municipal leaders in Florida, she knows sea level rise is real, because her jurisdiction is dealing with it as an everyday reality. But she's keeping a positive attitude — in part, she says, because Miami Beach's short-term measures, which represent the down payment in what is sure to be a major ongoing expense, have been working (so far). "Last fall, the pumps were working and those streets were dry," says Torriente. "Versus two years ago, you see those pictures of some of our roads that were really flooded rather high. This year, where the pumps were installed, they worked."
And Torriente wants to send a message to the local populace: Their leaders are on this thing. "Climate change is here and sea level is rising," she says. "But our eyes are wide open to the issue. We're actively planning and we're actively doing... this city commission and the residents today here in the city are willing to invest. They raised their stormwater rates so we could issue the bonds to pay for these investments. And the investments we're making are in fact reducing those risks."