Two stories today, both climate related, both about the direct impact climate change is having right now in our communities.
First, Lake Mead is at an all time low level:
Drought in the southwestern U.S. will deplete the vast Lake Mead this week to levels not seen since Hoover Dam was completed and the reservoir on the Colorado River was filled in the 1930s, federal water managers said Tuesday.
The projected lake level of about 1,080 feet above sea level will be below the level of about 1,082 feet recorded in November 2010 and the 1,083-foot mark measured in April 1956 during another sustained drought.
Also, Miami is drowning:
It is an unedifying experience but an illuminating one – for this once glamorous thoroughfare, a few blocks from Miami Beach’s art deco waterfront and its white beaches, has taken on an unexpected role. It now lies on the front line of America’s battle against climate change and the rise in sea levels that it has triggered.
“Climate change is no longer viewed as a future threat round here,” says atmosphere expert Professor Ben Kirtman, of the University of Miami. “It is something that we are having to deal with today.”
Every year, with the coming of high spring and autumn tides, the sea surges up the Florida coast and hits the west side of Miami Beach, which lies on a long, thin island that runs north and south across the water from the city of Miami. The problem is particularly severe in autumn when winds often reach hurricane levels. Tidal surges are turned into walls of seawater that batter Miami Beach’s west coast and sweep into the resort’s storm drains, reversing the flow of water that normally comes down from the streets above. Instead seawater floods up into the gutters of Alton Road, the first main thoroughfare on the western side of Miami Beach, and pours into the street. Then the water surges across the rest of the island.
The effect is calamitous. Shops and houses are inundated; city life is paralysed; cars are ruined by the corrosive seawater that immerses them. During one recent high spring tide, laundromat owner Eliseo Toussaint watched as slimy green saltwater bubbled up from the gutters. It rapidly filled the street and then blocked his front door. “This never used to happen,” Toussaint told reporters. “I’ve owned this place eight years and now it’s all the time.”
All too often climate change is talked about as a problem that will affect future generations if we don’t act to curb the problem today. But climate change is already dramatically the lives of many both here in America and all around the world. Droughts are hurting farmers, sea level rises are hurting coastal cities, and entire communities are feeling the effects even today.
It may be that many voters and politicians simply refuse to make the smart choice to prevent disaster in decades to come. But the creeping calamities are here with us in the present, and the necessity to act has never been more urgent.