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DISPOSABLE CITY by Mario Alejandro Ariza


Miami's Future on the Shores of Climate Catastrophe

by Mario Alejandro Ariza

Pub Date: June 9th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5417-8846-6
Publisher: Bold Type Books

How rising sea levels will test the resiliency of Florida's coastal city.

Miami-based journalist Ariza, who grew up in his native Santo Domingo and Miami, makes a compelling book debut with an urgent analysis of Miami’s vulnerability to climate change. Interviewing more than 150 sources, including city officials, geophysicists, realtors, climate scientists, and frightened residents; combing public records; and drawing on many scientific studies, Ariza argues persuasively that Miami must take “radical and swift action” to avert disaster. Although sea levels have risen 3 inches globally, in Miami, that figure is 5 inches, “influenced by the temperature of the ocean, localized atmospheric pressure, the persistent direction of the wind, and, most importantly, the relative strength of the Gulf Stream.” Because of its particular geology—the city is cut from a swamp, and its limestone soil “is ludicrously porous”—the land cannot sustain that influx of water: Roads, buildings, bridges, and septic tanks will be overwhelmed. Besides detailing Miami’s particular geography and geology, Ariza points out the economic inequality, greed, and myopic public planning that affect Miami’s future. The city, he asserts, “rests on a sodden foundation of merciless racial and environmental exploitation.” While realtors work to get the highest prices they can from properties, “the city’s already yawning gap between rich and poor” is stretched “past its breaking point.” Foreign investors, who often are absentee owners, exacerbate the problem, looking at Miami’s expensive real estate “as a good place to park capital instead of as places to live.” Ariza notes the popularity of the word “resilience” in discussions about climate change, but, he maintains, “resilience without massive carbon cuts and immediate state and federal aid is the policy equivalent of hospice care.” Miami’s problems, and the nation’s, require leaders “willing to tear down icons, bust norms, and shift debates rapidly toward recognizing the increasingly dire scientific reality.”

A forceful depiction of a global crisis viewed through the lens of one of the world’s most vulnerable cities.