Monday, October 6, 2014

Reuters Covers Sea Level Rise Flooding Miami, But Won't Say Climate Change

Miami families chalk 6' sea level rise at event (Jayme Gershen)
Reuters has a compelling story on how sea level rise is impacting Miami Beach, but even more interesting is what the story leaves out: Climate change. And there's evidence to suggest Reuters' omission is no accident.

First, the Reuters coverage of the Miami Beach "King Tide" that's expected to peak October 9 at about a foot above normal:
The event, caused by the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth, provides a taste of the potential impact of a longer-term two-foot sea level rise predicted for south Florida by 2060, according to the United States Geological Survey. The low-lying greater Miami area, with a population of 5.7 million, is one of the world's most at-risk urban communities, scientists told a U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing in April.

The King Tide is expected to rise to almost four feet. With seven miles of coastline, Miami Beach is already seeing more frequent salt-water street flooding at high tide, according to Miami Beach City Manager Jimmy Morales.

To combat such widespread flooding, the city has set aside $300 million to 400 million to install up to 50 pumps in the coming years in what some say is a vain effort to protect an estimated $23 billion of real estate.

Bigger sea walls are not an option as Miami Beach's flooding is caused largely by water rising underfoot through porous limestone bedrock. Officials concede pumping water back into the ocean is only a short-term solution.
It's a really interesting article, but it leaves you with an unanswered question: Why is sea level rising? It's a critical part of the story. Leaving out the cause makes sea level rise seem like something that's beyond our control, but it most certainly is not. The intensity of future global warming and the height of future sea level rise will be determined by how much and how fast we cut industrial carbon pollution right now.

You might think it's a coincidence that Reuters left out any mention of global warming - maybe they just assumed everyone knows and accepts mainstream climate science! But there's evidence the action is deliberate. As Media Matters has reported, a former reporter accuses Reuters Deputy Editor-in-Chief Paul Ingrassia of denying the clear scientific connection between industrial carbon pollution and global warming intensity. The reporter accused Ingrassia of letting his personal politics taint Reuters' climate coverage and repeated Media Matters investigations have shown Reuters climate coverage continues to decline in frequency and quality.

Reuters' silence on the connection between sea level rise and carbon pollution comes with real consequences, especially in Florida. Gov. Rick Scott wouldn't even let climate scientists finish making their case for climate action before cutting them off. Sen. Marco Rubio lets his pro-polluter politics cloud his judgment on climate change.

In this case, Reuters isn't just failing to connect the dots for its readers - it's letting science deniers off the hook for their reckless decision to put politics ahead of people.


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