Rising tides could displace more than 1 million in Florida, NOAA says

Environmental activists ask if Legislature is doing enough

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – New predictions by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration suggest Florida's tides are rising, which is creating problems for the state’s coastal residents sooner rather than later.

Environmental activists said the Legislature isn't doing enough.

More than 14 million Floridians live in coastal zones, according to a 2010 study. And a recent study by NOAA said a sea-level rise of 3 feet could displace an estimated 1.2 million people.

Marine biologist and author Jack Rudloe has been visiting Mashes Sands Beach since childhood. He's been seeing the beach erode away ever since.

“If we pretend that we have nothing to do with nature, we supersede,” Rudloe said. “(If) we are more powerful than nature, then nature is basically going to kick our bottoms.”

The NOAA study also suggests sea levels are likely to rise 9 inches within the next 10 years.

Only a 9-inch rise in sea levels would increase coastal flooding by 25 times, which would put lives and property at risk, the NOAA report said.

Aliki Moncrief, executive director of Florida Conservation Voters, said the Legislature should do more to prepare.

“I think the Legislature, at a minimum, needs to start getting on the bandwagon that a lot of local communities have done -- and that is to sit down and come up with a plan,” Moncrief said. “How are we going to adapt? How are we going to mitigate?”

Sea levels in some parts of Florida are reported to be rising at one-third of an inch per year.

Lawmakers need to accept the facts and start responding accordingly, Rudloe said.

“The fact that the president and the governor are basically saying there's nothing to global warming, (and) there's nothing to rising sea (levels) -- get real, folks,” Rudloe said.

The NOAA study predicts Floridians living near bodies of water affected by the tide will start noticing rapid increases in flooding occurrences and duration as soon as 2030.

By 2100, the study said, Florida will hit the 3-foot mark, displacing more than 1 million people.