Sam Poole's commute to his Las Olas Boulevard office is a short walk along the river. But as much as he loves it, he already plans to sell his Fort Lauderale home in 10 years because of the sea level rise.
"At high tide, there's water that's a foot deep," Poole said. "It's only a matter of time before that water reaches Las Olas, whether it's 10 years, or 20 years, or 30 years."
Before you think this sounds extreme, consider this: Poole is a land-use attorney and past executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. He's seen the models, understands the threat and knows if nothing is done to adapt, property values in vulnerable areas will plummet.
"If insurance rates go up -- and they will unless we are doing something -- then values go down," he said.
The sea is slowly swallowing South Florida. And it's not just the homes and businesses along the coast that are at risk. Areas further inland are just as vulnerable.
"What most people think is that sea level rise is only going to affect people on the coast," said Broward County Natural Resources Administrator Dr. Nancy Gassman.
She has been looking at the areas that are most vulnerable. Communities in Southwest Broward, such as Weston and Miramar, are at major risk of fresh water flooding. They are at a lower elevation than other areas and increased tidal flooding will make it harder, if not impossible, to send storm water west to east.
But these are what are called "no action" scenarios.
Poole thinks the market will respond favorably if action is taken to adapt -- for example, raising the elevation of Las Olas Boulevard.
We've already seen a portion of A1A collapse into the Atlantic Ocean and the increased frequency of tidal flooding.
Dr. Gassman believes these are tangible impacts of climate change. The question for our elected leaders and the citizens in harm's way is what -- as a community -- do we plan to do about it?
Just last week Climate Central released a detailed report called “Surging Seas” about the threat to Florida from sea level rise.
South Florida’s exposure rate is one of the greatest in the state.
The report goes one to say: "2,120 square miles of land lie less than 3 feet above the high tide line in Florida. Some $156 billion in property value, and 300,000 homes, sit on that land. These figures jump to $580 billion and 1.4 million homes on 4,660 square miles of land under 6 feet.
Every inch of sea level rise within these ranges will be more damaging than the previous inch. This escalating risk, considered together with recent acceleration in sea level rise and projections for that trend to continue, places Florida in double jeopardy. Damage from sea level rise and coastal flooding is likely to turn sharply upward during the course of this century.”