One of the most terrifying aspects of global warming is the fact that our planet could be engulfed by its own oceans within the next few years — and unfortunately, it's already happening to low-lying parts of North America. Several roads in the Florida Keys are expected to be underwater by 2025, which is less than five years away. Although there are preventative measures that could be taken, fixing the roads would cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The Florida Keys are one of the most vulnerable places to flooding in North America,” environmental planner Kristina Hill told The Guardian earlier this year. “Without a change in strategy, parts of the Keys will become accessible only by boat."
“The islands will gradually disappear into a higher ocean, potentially leaving a ruined landscape of leaky underground storage tanks, old pipes, and flooded road segments behind to pollute the water," she continued.
It may be too expensive to save the Florida Keys' roads from submergence.
Much of the Florida Keys' main roads will likely be underwater by 2025, with king tides rising at an alarming rate, according to The Miami Herald. And although taking preventative measures to save the roads would be ideal, it's practically unaffordable. Simply elevating 155 miles of Monroe County roads, which could face total submergence by 2045, could cost $1.8 billion. The remaining roads that will be submerged by 2025, minus highways and city roads, could amount to a whopping $750 million.
These types of projects are pricier in flood-prone communities because require far more than an asphalt overlay. Workers must install pipes to remove water from the road, and pumps to clean it before its dumped back into the ocean. Some of the roads may only need to be elevated a few feet, but a supportive foundation is what's most important, as water levels in the area will have risen 6 feet by 2100. Right now, though, it's unclear where Monroe County will get the funds for these projects.
It seems as though politics may be in the way of saving parts of the Keys' communities.
“We are not bringing [funding] up this session due to the current leadership in Tallahassee. We have not abandoned the idea and plan to bring it forward again during the 2023 session,” Monroe County’s administrator, Roman Gastesi, told The Miami Herald.
Hopefully officials come up with a solution soon, though, because these floods appear to be inevitable.
Why are the sea levels rising so quickly?
The oceans are warming and its levels are rising way more quickly than anyone could have imagined, and the reason why sea levels are rising is because of the melting ice caps. Our planet has witnessed 15 of the hottest years on record since the year 2000, which has completely changed the Arctic's environment. As the ice melts into the ocean, though, the sea levels are getting noticeably higher — affecting coastal communities worldwide.
Rising sea levels mean coastal and low-lying communities like the Keys will be affected first and foremost — before the rest of the world is eventually submerged. So if you weren't sure why people are in a constant state of panic in regards to global warming, there's a good place to start.