The Future of Oranges, Sugarcane, and Drainage Gates, National Geographic, SLR/IRL

National Geographic magazine's February 2015 issue article "Treading Water," discusses among other things, the loss/threat to sugarcane south of Lake Okeechobee. (NG, photo of page 119.)
National Geographic’s February 2015 issue has an article entitled “Treading Water,” which discusses among other things, sea level rise and the future loss/threat to sugarcane and oranges south and around Lake Okeechobee in Florida. (NG, photo of page 119.)

My husband Ed was out of town on Friday, so I thought I would get some reading done on something other than the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. That evening, with the dogs at my feet, I began reading the February issue of National Geographic magazine, a publication my parents filled our family home with, and I have kept subscribing to as a window to the outside wonders of our world.

After reading articles on the terrible trauma of “blast force” to US soldiers that served in Iraq and Afghanistan; Hawaiian identity and the sea; and the amazing microscopic revelations of mites; —–at the very end of the magazine, there was an article entitled: TREADING WATER about climate change, seal level rise, and South Florida.

The article focused quite a bit  on a Dutch company that sees “profit rather than loss” in floating houses in trendy Miami, but also mentioned a few things that had little silver lining such as an insert on page 112, entitled, “Home on the Water.” This insert briefly noted the 2,100 miles of canals, (that we are all so familiar with), that have been built over the past century to drain the Everglades and empty the state’s water mostly into the Atlantic Ocean. (FOS, 1.7 billion gallon a day on average….)

According to the article, if there is two feet of sea level rise, conservatively predicted by 2060, the gates  draining the lands around lake Okeechobee and the Everglades,  “will no longer work…”

I’ll be 95 in 2060….hope I can get out of the nursing home to see….

National Geographic page 112. "Given two feet of sea level rise, more than 80 % of the gates will no longer work."
National Geographic page 112. “Given two feet of sea level rise, more than 80 % of the gates will no longer work.”

The article also notes “two key” very threatened and very profitable agricultural industries: sugarcane and oranges.

National Geographic magazine's February 2015 issue article "Treading Water," discusses among other things, the loss/threat to sugarcane south of Lake Okeechobee. (NG, photo of page 119.)
National Geographic magazine’s February 2015 issue article “Treading Water,” shows locations of sugarcane in the Everglades Agricultural Area, and orange groves both north and south Lake Okeechobee.  (NG, photo of page 119.)

Food for thought….

Sea level rise is a factor I deal with as a commissioner in the Town of Sewall’s Point and have been exposed to through the Florida League of Cities. The sea has risen before and it is rising again. Too bad humanity is speeding things up, but we are…

After listening to many state agencies and scientists speak on the issue, I  personally do not believe Florida will be abandoned or”sink.” I think it will rise in new form, adapting to change as humanity has done for thousands if not millions of years.

Nonetheless,  if I owned sugar groves in the Everglades Agriculture Area, I’d have an exit strategy; if I worked for the Army Corp of Engineers, or South Florida Water Management District, I would reexamine the plumbing; and if I were Florida’s governor, or legislature, I would be talking to scientists about the advantage of fresh water on the land south of lake, pushing back salt water coming up from below and providing drinking water in the future to all those people living on floating houses in Miami…

So much for reading about the “rest of the world”…our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon/ Everglades issues are inescapable!

________________________________________________

National Geographic Magazine: (http://www.nationalgeographic.com)

FOS: (http://www.floridaocean.org)

Town of Sewall’s Point: (http://sewallspoint.org )—FEMA houses being lifted, flood map changes are just a few of the things the town is dealing with in regard to sea level rise.

5 thoughts on “The Future of Oranges, Sugarcane, and Drainage Gates, National Geographic, SLR/IRL

  1. Hi Jacquii, to your National Geographic reference, rising water levels was also I believe their Sept. 2014 cover story. Interesting stuff. Florida is with some exceptions barely above sea level. That we can even live south of Orlando, seems due the construction of drainage canals and pumps which along with draining the water also led to the disappearance of much of the wildlife. I hope all the efforts to reverse this trend succeed. The collective solutions that seem to depend on government actions though must be coupled with the choices we each make every day to lesson are own impact on the planet. Thanks again for keeping us informed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will look for that past issue Billy thank you. Also I agree with you. Many areas around here were once areas that “flooded: during rainy season and then were were always some high areas and ridges where the native people and pioneers were drawn to—safe and high….

      Like

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