Where’s the Beach? New York Times Publishes Data-Free Story About Miami’s ‘Rising Seas’
The seas are certain to rise in Miami, or so says the New York Times in their story on Tuesday by Christopher Flavelle and Patricia Mazzei, “Miami Says It Can Adapt to Rising Seas. Not Everyone Is Convinced.”
Could it be that “not everyone is convinced” because they have yet to see proof that the sea is actually rising? The article certainly presents no such proof. Although the story is chock full of projections of future sea level rise, the reader can not find any evidence that the sea has, well, actually risen in the past which would indicate a trend into the future. Nothing.
The very first sentence of the data-free story begins with a bold projection based on computer models, not on anything that has happened in the the past:
Officials in Miami-Dade County, where climate models predict two feet or more of sea-level rise by 2060, have released an upbeat strategy for living with more water, one that focused on elevating homes and roads, more dense construction farther inland and creating more open space for flooding in low-lying areas.
Oh, climate models predict a sea level rise of two feet or more by 2060 even though the story shows absolutely nothing as to data as to how much the sea level in the Miami area has risen in the past. If such data is unavailable could the reporters at least present photographs of the South Florida beaches of the past and compare them to pictures of the situation of the present?
For example, exactly a hundred years before their 2060 prediction, an aerial shot of Ft. Lauderdale beach, just up the road from Miami, was filmed during the opening credits of the 1960 movie, “Where The Boys Are.”
If it seems ridiculous to draw conclusions from the opening sequence of a silly comedy movie made long ago, it at least presents something the Times article definitely lacks: proof of where the sea level was back then, which could be compared to today. In fact if the ocean had been rising only a quarter of an inch per year since 1960 the ocean would have been over a foot higher today which, in that very flat area, would mean the ocean waves lapping up upon the road (State Road AIA) by the Elbo Room bar where the boys (and girls) were.
The networks love these scare predictions too. In 2008, ABC featured an apocalyptic special saying that New York City would be underwater by 2015. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.) In another show in 2008, then-Good Morning America weatherman Sam Champion fretted, “And now to our series ‘Global Warming: Global Warning.’ Could global warming one day force us into space to live?”
Past evidence is conveniently overlooked in the Times article. Instead it is all about the future about what might, could, should happen in the future:
Local officials say that doing nothing is untenable. By 2040, more than $3 billion worth of property could be lost to daily tidal flooding without action to reduce the threat, according to a report last fall by the Urban Land Institute. By 2070, that figure is projected to increase to $23.5 billion. But Katherine Hagemann, who heads climate adaptation policy for Miami-Dade, said it didn’t make financial sense to respond to those threats by pulling back from the coast or paying large numbers of people to leave their homes. It made more sense, she said, to try to keep those areas livable.
2040, 2060, 2070. Try looking at that beach scene of 1960 and compare it to 2021. Things that have actually happened instead of computer models of things that are projected to happen…but not based on data that did happen for the past sixty-one years.