Recently I had the opportunity to fly down to Miami with a colleague for the filming of a documentary scheduled to air on the National Geographic network next Fall.
Alex Kaplan of Swiss Re Global Partnerships was interviewed for the "Years of Living Dangerously" show, with this particular episode focusing on the threat of climate change and sea level rise to Miami and South Florida.
The timing was particularly relevant given the recent landmark announcement at the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. The historic deal, backed by 195 countries, aims to limit global warming to below 2C by the end of the century, with the hope this can be achieved by reducing carbon emissions.
Each episode of Season 2 will feature a different celebrity host – and the host of our documentary was actor and musician Jack Black who's passionate about the subject of climate change. What he lacks in height (sorry Jack!) he certainly makes up for in personality, and it was a breath of fresh air to meet a celebrity who's every bit as funny and nice in person as his on-screen personas.
The star of Hollywood blockbusters such as School of Rock, The Holiday and Shallow Hal, cracked jokes while all the time seeming interested in the topic being discussed and those around him.
But standing on the rooftop of the Epic Hotel in downtown Miami I couldn't help but get the sense that there wasn't anything to laugh about. Much of the city sits just a few feet above sea level, with waterways the lifeblood of the town.
Everywhere I looked there were shiny, new skyscrapers being built. Miami continues to amass the biggest accumulation of property wealth in some of the most at-risk areas of the country.
It's been 10 years since Florida's been hit by a major hurricane, and looking around the city from that rooftop I got a sense of the damage that could be done if a hurricane were to hit the city. The buildings may be built to "hurricane standards," but the proximity of the water, which records show is rising, makes this a disaster waiting to happen. And the worst types of disasters are those that are preventable.
There's still time to improve the resilience of coastal communities around the world, both through adaptation measures and post-disaster financing. The question is, will we act now or just continue to talk about them?
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Climate change, Floods/storms, Resilience
Location: Miami, FL, United States