Experts Warn Florida Tower Disaster Is Climate Emergency ‘Wake-Up Call’

By Brett Wilkins, staff writer for Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

In the search for answers following last week’s disintegration of a high-rise condominium tower near Miami, some experts are cautiously pointing to the climate emergency as a possible culprit—or at the very least a risk multiplier in the disaster—underscoring the need for urgent climate and infrastructure action.

With 11 confirmed deaths and 150 people still missing following the partial collapse of Champlain Towers South in Surfside on June 24, rescuing survivors and retrieving victims’ bodies remains authorities’ top priority. However, officials and experts have also begun the long and daunting task of determining what caused the building to fail.

A 2018 engineering report on the 12-story tower noted design flaws and “major structural damage,” including a deteriorating roof, defective waterproofing, and crumbling concrete columns and rusting rebar in the building’s underground garage. The report warned that some of these problems could cause “exponential damage” in the future.

With so much well-documented existing damage, and with repairs to the building underway at the time it disintegrated, experts have been reluctant to attribute the collapse to any single cause.

However, numerous scientists and other experts say that rising sea levels and more intense tidal flooding related to the climate emergency could have played a significant role in the disaster.

There is little doubt among experts that a warming planet due to human activity is causing sea levels to rise, and it is certain that rising waters can infiltrate the porous limestone upon which southeastern Florida buildings stand, potentially degrading their foundations over time.

As a 5.9-inch rise in local sea levels and 320% surge in nuisance flooding in the area since the mid-1990s attests, metro Miami is particularly susceptible to the consequences of the climate emergency. Last year, a report (pdf) from Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, stated that Miami is “one of the most at-risk cities in the world from the damages caused by coastal flooding and storms.”

Atorod Azizinamini, who directs the Moss School of Construction, Infrastructure, and Sustainability at Florida International University (FIU), toldThe Palm Beach Post that “climate change can play a role” in disasters like the Champlain Towers South collapse. “It can cause settlement of the ground with sea level rise, and corrosion.”

Zhong-Ren Peng, director of the International Center for Adaptation Planning and Design at the University of Florida, told The Palm Beach Post that “sea level rise does cause potential corrosion and if that was happening, it’s possible it could not handle the weight of the building.”

“I think this could be a wake-up call for coastal developments,” warned Peng.

Albert Slap, chief executive of the Boca Raton, Florida-based construction risk assessment company RiskFootprint, explained to The Washington Post that “groundwater enters the pores of the concrete and ultimately weakens it and erodes it. So the foundations are subject to a lot of geological forces that could compact the soil underneath. It could cause voids. We just don’t know.”

Slap said the Champlain Towers South disaster “could be a canary-in-the-coal-mine-type event.”

“It’s not just one building,” he added. “This could be something that could affect other buildings.”


Climate scientists predict (pdf) an acceleration in sea level rise in southeastern Florida, with a projected increase of 10 to 17 inches by 2040, 21 to 54 inches by 2070, and 40 to 136 inches by 2120.

Land subsidence—the sudden sinking or gradual settling of the ground’s surface—is also linked to the climate emergency. Shimon Wdowinski, a professor at Florida International University’s Institute of Environment, said an analysis of space-based radar data revealed signs of such subsidence at the site of the tower disaster in the 1990s.

“We reported about two millimeters per year over a period of six years so that comes to about 12 millimeters, about half an inch, or about the width of your finger,” Wdowinski told The Weather Channel. “So small things and slow processes can accumulate if you give them enough time.”

Separately, Wdowinski said that “when we measure subsidence or when we see movement of the buildings, it’s worth checking why it happens.”

“We cannot say what is the reason for that from the satellite images but we can say there was movement here,” he added.

Like many cities around the world, Miami is taking steps in an effort to mitigate the effects of rising seas and sinking land. According to Miami’s Stormwater Master Plan, installing a system of pumps, drainage, and sea walls would cost approximately $4 billion and still leave some areas without adequate protection.

However, experts warn that only urgent, transformational action can avert worst-case climate scenarios, and that attempting to merely treat the symptoms of the climate emergency with measures like sea walls will ultimately fail.

In a 2019 Popula article, essayist Sarah Miller wrote that “since Miami is built on limestone, which soaks up water like a sponge, walls are not very useful. In Miami, sea water will just go under a wall, like a salty ghost. It will come up through the pipes and seep up around the manholes. It will soak into the sand and find its way into caves and get under the water table and push the ground water up.”

“So while walls might keep the clogs of Holland dry, they cannot offer similar protection to the stilettos of Miami Beach,” she added.

Harold Wanless, a geologist and sea level rise expert at the University of Miami, told The Guardian that “every sandy barrier island, every low-lying coast, from Miami to Mumbai, will become inundated and [it will be] difficult to maintain functional infrastructure.”

“You can put valves in sewers and put in sea walls but the problem is the water will keep coming up through the limestone,” said Wanless. “You’re not going to stop this.”

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  1. John A

    We’ve been getting wake up calls for as long as I can remember and every time, the bought and paid for politicians simply hit the snooze button, roll over and go back to sleep. Nothing will fundamentally change until fundamental change is forced. But with so much surveillance these days, hard to imagine how any kind of movement for this can build momentum without being infiltrated and crushed at near birth. All so heartbreakingly predictable.

      1. Ian Ollmann

        If you think climate change demands action, then you should be taking action yourself. Buy an EV or cycle more, install solar, re-examine your home heating to something that doesn’t burn fossil fuel.

        The time is over for waiting for other people to do this for you. They either already have or far more likely aren’t going to.

        The last remaining thing to do is to learn to ignore the culture wars. They are pointless. You can’t legislate culture, so voting for candidates based on culture war preference is pointless. Instead pick candidates that actually will do something about green priorities.

        1. Chris Hargens

          Your points are well taken within the context of what can be done by individuals; however, it’s questionable whether a scattering of mitigation efforts by individuals can have a significant impact on climate change. What’s needed is transformational change at the societal level, and that’s where governments (and corporations) are dropping the ball, or, to paraphrase John A., simply hitting the snooze button, and rolling over and going back to sleep.

        2. Soredemos

          EVs aren’t actually particularly environmentally friendly, and that’s on top of the fact that “cars but better” is a terrible solution to the problem of transport. Most of America is built around the car (which is also why ‘cycle more’ is basically nonsense; America simply isn’t constructed for this to be viable in most places), but cars are inherently an environmental (and architectural, and social, and…) disaster. I’ll add that of course the automobile is a useful tool that has its place (not sure how one would move a sofa without a truck for example). But designing an entire society around them, and in fact making an entire society subservient to them, has produced a nightmare.

          And what you’re offering are individualized solutions to a civilizational level problem. It doesn’t matter how efficient you, or even a million people like you, make your homes. Individual actions are a drop in the ocean.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            It takes a big-enough movement of enough-millions-of-people to support a big-enough long-lived enough political combat strike-force needed for force green social change on the anti-green part of society.

            Visible individual conservation-lifestyling actions would allow people to see eachother, find eachother, form a shared Green BetterCulture together, build a movement on the foundation of that shared Green BetterCulture, and build a political strike force out from that movement.

            That is one useful thing enough millions of individual conservation lifestylers can achieve in open view of eachother by individually conservation lifestyling in open view of eachother.

            1. Soredemos

              Yeah, none of that hippie great awakening stuff is going to happen. There’s no time for it to coalesce, for one thing. And our elites have made it abundantly clear what they think of even very moderate reforms pushed by crowds of plebs.

              That’s before even getting to the fact that so many of the treehugger types have been unwittingly co-opted by corporate propaganda. The dominate view among the green crowd still seems to be that we can basically keep civilization as it currently is, just more efficient and environmentally friendly. Electric cars is the epitome of this kind of thinking, as is a focus on recycling (NC has abundantly shown that a lot of ‘recycling’ is just landfills in some distant land) rather than any serious consideration of a reduction in products and creature comforts. Many people are already on board with the idea of some grand society wide effort on the climate front (ie Green New Deal), but still with very screwed up perceptions of just what is needed and how radical it needs to be. A GND as envisaged by people like Sanders is woefully inadequate (and politically unachievable anyway).

              What’s most likely going to happen is that at some point it’s going to become so painfully obvious that things are falling apart that some sort of eco-authoritarianism is going to emerge from the top, and force radical solutions, at gunpoint if need be. The system will have to start breaking down in earnest before the people running the system start to take the extreme measures needed. Only by then it will likely be too late anyway.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                You could be right. Or I could be right. In a country of 320 jillion people, there is demographic “room” for different groups to try different approaches.

                My Theory Of Change (TOC) involves some people doing a hippie great awakening and recruiting more people into their hippie great awakening approach and ultimately several-to-many millions of people doing a great hippie awakening. They could recognize eachother by the visible markers of their lived culture of conservation lifestyling. They could work themselves into a movement and get that movement to support a political strike force.

                That’s my TOC ( Theory Of Change). And the several million great awakened hippies acting on that TOC would be a TAG ( Theory Action Group).

                If you believe in a Theory Of Change involving a top-down imposition of conservation and carbon-cycle rebalancing ordered by a Green Authoritarian Regime, then perhaps you could get thousands and then millions of people who believe in the Green Authoritarian Theory Of Change to form a Theory Action Group devoted to bringing the Green Authoritarian Regime into power quicker and harder.

                There’s enough room and people for those two TAGs to pursue their two TOCs and more other such groups besides.

                May the best TAG with the best TOC win. If the great awakened hippie TAG and TOC won’t work, then the few or many great awakened hippies will fall by the wayside. In the meantime, they will have tried.

      2. John A

        Well, I dont have a car, take the train, bus or walk. Have insulated my house as much as I can and am spartan with heating in winter. I eat local, seasonal and organic as much as I can, but am forever hopping out of the way of speeding SUVs or supermarket trucks.

  2. PlutoniumKun

    I haven’t been following this closely, but what struck me was the suddeness of the failure – this strongly points to a ground failure rather than a structural failure. When buildings collapse, they almost always give warning in the form of cracking, internal distortions, groans and creaks, etc. The notorious Sampoong Department Store collapse in Seoul, for example, started many hours before it finally gave way. It was the corruption and ineptitude of staff and managers that caused the huge loss of life.

    Similar collapses are surprisingly common in China, but when sudden, they are almost always the result of ground slips, or to be precise, poorly built foundations on unstable ground.

    So this points I think to either a swallow hole opening up (not unlikely in limestone areas) or a long term degredation of the foundations or subsoils eventually reaching a failure point. The likelihood of either is far more likely in a scenario of rising sea levels, which via hydraulic pressure will raise and/or salinate groundwater. So this will almost certainly not be the last time we see something like this occur. It should be noted that while structural checks of a building like this are straightforward, its far more difficult and expensive to work out what is happening below ground level, this often requires intrusive survey methods (i.e. boreholes or similar). Not many building management companies want to do this as its an expensive method to find major liabilities.

    1. Louis Fyne

      Surprise…. the Daily Mail (UK) actually has the best who-what-where coverage of the tragedy.

      falling concrete and structural groaning from the failing rebar was noted by residents hours before the actual collapse

      structural engineers highlighted the severe damage for 2+ years ago. (that was kicked down the road via incompetence, and possibly negligence, of the condo board, imo)

      the deaths could have been prevented.

      pinning it on climate change is a bit premature, imo. IMO, gross incompetence is the leading proximate cause. Of both the condo board, and the original builders in the 1980’s.

      not denying the possible role of climate change, but a definitive answer will take a full post-mortem. Blaming climate change now says more about the politics of the ‘expert’ than the actual facts.

      1. freebird

        Both the original builders and the condo board can be faulted. But, we need mechanisms in place where the lack of knowledge of lay people (or their greed or lack of interest or funding) is not in control of human lives living in dangerous conditions. There should be a mechanism where the structural engineers were obligated to file their findings with a county or state building inspector, and follow-up triggers, where the board would have been required to take timely action.

    2. Adam1

      My wife was telling me she had read/seen in one news report that one resident had commented to a spouse/friend moments before the center area collapsed that “the pool is missing”. That might indicate a sinkhole took the pool first and then the building.

      1. Rob Dunford

        Judging by some independent reports of the underside of the pool area, serious corrosion and cracking under the pool deck could have caused it to collapse, thus causing the whole building to be compromised.

      2. Matt

        Except that the pool is still there, from all of the photos I have seen. So I don’t know what to make of that.

        1. juno mas

          Yes. The person who made the cellphone call is missing in the pile of debris. It appears her observation was that the pool* water* was missing. Likely drained away into the underground parking structure beneath the WHOLE high rise complex.

          The video of the collapsing building clearly shows the bottom of the structure failing first and then propagating upward. The end of the building wing collapses last; but not downward. The end of the wing collapses inward on the the interior, suggesting the corner foundation maintained structural integrity.

      1. Susan the other

        So just logically thinking: the pool/deck sat on the ocean side of the tower; the downhill side. Over the years drainage could have washed away the fill under the building and that would have been enough to pull the tower down. And it did come down in that direction. You’d think that in addition to sinking 2 mm/year there would have been a tiny, perceptible tilt to the tower, or some directional pattern – not just cracks and creaks. And a swimming pool is like a level. Any tilt to the water surface would be freaky. How could you hide that?

      2. Matt

        There’s nothing to suggest a sinkhole around the pool deck. The pool is still there and the surrounding deck seems to have partially collapsed, at most, one level into the car park structure.

    3. The Historian

      Having done many investigations, I can tell you that it is rarely one thing that causes a catastrophe like this to happen, no matter how suddenly the collapse appeared. Most building are built with a high enough safety factor that they can withstand one failure so I really don’t think there will be just one smoking gun. I suspect that multiple cascading failures will be found. But investigations take time, so I don’t think we will know all of what went on there for at least a year.

  3. TomDority

    Engineer report with major and exponetialy expanding structural problems — why no on-site monitoring from those key findings???? — why no look at the building data and as built info back then??? why no review of the permiting process, construction inspections and basic property management plan devised and based on information gleaned from the report??
    ‘experts have been reluctant to attribute the collapse to any single cause.’ – as with most falures, it is not a single cause, certainly the very least, some of the contributors to the collapse are clearly spelled out in the engineering report!!!!
    If a single cause is to be named, my bet is a lack of human intervention and immediate reponse and resolution to known structural problems with a further complication of figuring out a way to mitigate and avoid potential profit impairment.
    Look, ya just don’t get a report of your building safety and structural margins being eroded and do nothing about monitoring the rate of change and level of risk.
    Certainly, environmental causes and intrusions will become more of an issue in design but, most building structures take in to consideration, the environment as a basic input plus a huge over-engineering.
    Of course, the army core of engineers designed the canals and drainage system of NewOrleans to a catagory 3 without the standard over engineering – pre-Katrina – when Katrina hit, the canals failed before their design target due to improper maintainence and monitoring of the system.
    With the building collapse in near Miami, with a serious finding in an engineering report – I can only conclude sheer negligence as the cause…. but what do I know…. it is probably just a bunch business folks who don’t know a thing about buildings or just plain not realizing or catching the major signs of trouble.
    Horrendous loss of life –super sad.

    1. doug champion

      Why no on-site monitoring from those key findings???
      Tom, not sure if you have even been in an HOA, but getting money to do something new is often hard or impossible. The collective HOA can be a miserable beast when push comes to shove. It can take a long time to get members on board with anything.

      That is my guess….

      1. TomDority

        I am thinking you are right but, I thought the structural parts of a building were a commons and life safety area and not within HOA to be making decisions regarding life safety issues – I think they come under the building owners resposibility and are also insured seperately as well…. not sure that public safety can be ignored by public officials and laws pertaining

        1. notabanker

          The HOA are the “building owners”, or at least the body the building owners elect to govern. There is no separate landlord, the developers are long gone, most of them dead, and hidden behind a corporate umbrella. Developers typically control the HOA board for a period of time until enough occupancy supercedes their voting rights, then it is transitioned over to the HOA. With a 40 year old building, the condo owners have had full control of that HOA for decades.

          1. gwb

            Maintaining a building of that size shouldn’t be left to an HOA or condo association board, who are volunteers and are not engineers. It’s too much responsibility – I wouldn’t want it. Imagine having to be in the position of making your fellow residents pony up $150,000 in special assessments? Having been on a townhouse HOA board once, which BTW was well-run by a management company, most HOA boards are dependent on outside firms for advice, and don’t get much support from state and local governments. The whole HOA system is a cop-out by local governments — it’s a pact of convenience with developers to foist off upkeep headaches onto the residents. Which is OK if all that needs to be done is snow removal, keeping up common ground, repaving, etc. — but living above or below thousands of tons of concrete is a public-safety, life-or-death issue. Government and the engineering profession need to take on much more control over multistory building maintenance.

    2. notabanker

      You are taking one excerpt from that report and magnifying it out of context. The forms they submitted to the city with that report also clearly state the structural concrete in good overall condition and that patch of cracks would have been adequate.

      No one had a premonition of a catastrophic failure, and HOA’s are not skilled/equipped to deal with advanced structural engineering issues. Perhaps they should be on the coast, and perhaps they will be after this.

    3. scott s.

      I don’t think the “core” of engineers was involved in the New Orleans drainage system. Their responsibility was building the levee system to protect from river flooding, and then the mission extended to providing hurricane protection levees. In fact, a significant finding was the competing interests of the drainage system vs the levee system.

      There was a separate issue affecting New Orleans East and St Bernard WRT the USACE intracoastal waterway, in particular the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet aka Mr Go.

      One interesting problem was they found that “sea level” datum was inaccurate so the contract specs that required levees built to certain elevation above “sea level” couldn’t be evaluated — they were off by a couple feet which in the event made a difference in overtopping.

      1. juno mas

        Land surface and mean sea level elevations use slightly different vertical datum (set points). Setting a levee height to a land surface geodetic datum will create a levee that will not function properly with regard to sea levels (fluctuating tides or storm surge). An extenuating factor in NOLA?

  4. Tom Pfotzer

    This is my layman’s understanding of the situation. Please rebut/edit this if you have better info.

    When you get foundation cracking and spalling (outer layers of concrete flaking off, revealing rebars within the concrete), that’s telling you loud and clear that the foundation’s in motion.

    “Rebar” is a set of steel rods embedded within the concrete which anti-shear (snap-in-half) strength. Concrete is very strong in compression (weight squashing down from above), but like all masonry, it’s brittle. When concrete cracks or spalls, that’s telling you that shear forces have exceeded the concrete-and-steel material’s ability to bend (respond to shear forces).

    The question is “why is the foundation in motion?”. The engineering of foundations is a study of how to support the weight of the building, given the nature of the ground at the site. The two ends of the strategy continuum are:

    a. anchor the building columns on solid rock or really stable soil, or
    b. float the building on a concrete raft which floats on less-than-stable soil

    If the nature of the sub-soil changes and becomes more mobile due to the incursion of water (think about quicksand), that will adversely affect the weight-bearing nature of the soil beneath the foundation. It will move, and it will move away from the load, like toothpaste when you squeeze the tube. The “moving away” is the source of that “shear force” – one part of the foundation is moving in different directions that the rest of the foundation.

    So, the question is “was the foundation improperly engineered in the first place, or did the ground move, and if so, is the motion a site-specific, isolated phenomenon, or is it systemic to the locale?”

    That question will get answered as more buildings do or do not fail.

    The remedy is to step up inspections, and move out of buildings before they fall. The process of falling is slow, and is relatively easy to spot by a competent inspector.

    Think about the inspection certificate you see in the next elevator you get into. The state requires those elevators to be regularly inspected, for all the obvious reasons.

    So, Miami and other similarly-situated locales need to pass a few ordinances which require these inspections, and after a few more buildings fall down (if they do), there will be sufficient political will to do so.

    1. Mickey Hickey

      Spalling over Rebar is usually because the rust expands and pushes out Concrete, there is usually salt water involved in that level of rusting. The Rebar is usually embedded at least 3″ deep in the Concrete and if it was then spalling is a matter that has to be dealt with but in vertical foundations should not cause collapse without indications of cracking outside the spalling area. The building maintenance people would see problems developing particularly in uderground garages.

        1. J.

          CBS4’s Jim DeFede interviewed William Espinosa, a Champlain maintenance manager from the late 1990s, who said ocean saltwater would make its way into the underground garage — so much that “pumps never could keep up with it.”

          I suspect the standing saltwater had seriously corroded the rebar in the foundation.

          Another account I saw said that there had been serious flooding in the parking deck the day of the collapse so much that cars were turning back from the water.

      1. Timh

        My dad, who was a civil engineer, told me that the pH of concrete is critical to avoid rebar corrosion. Big projects test the pH of incoming concrete for that reason As rebar has the same thermal expansion coefficient as concrete, it’s not a heat/cold issue.

        But concrete is porous, so salt water exposure may limit lifetime unless some other measure is taken such as sealing the rebar.

    2. Carolinian

      Thanx for info. Regardless of what caused this particular collapse–and shoddy construction may be involved–there seems to be little debate that sea level rise is a big threat to Miami and low lying areas like barrier islands. Long term if not short term abandonment may be the only option.

      Another wrinkle on this is that these condo buildings are resident owned and their management committees may have been less than diligent about maintenance and inspections. One would assume that any building, or car, in such a salty air environment would be more prone to corrosion.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        A long-term Great Replacement might be another good approach. Get all the global warming realists out of Miami. Get all the global warming deniers into Miami. Or at least all the global warming deniers who will fit.

        And then let Darwin decide if the denialists were right or wrong in their denialism.

  5. kirk seidenbecker

    Coastline = erosion – from an engineering standpoint – the precautionary principle applies here…

    1. jefemt

      If we were to make an algebraic balanced equation, the other side would be realtors, developers, ocean-front real-estate demand, me- at- the- exclusion- of- thee -ownership…

      1. Timh

        John D Macdonald criticised the coastal housing developments in Florida back in the mid ’60s, through the Travis McGee novels.

  6. Mickey Hickey

    I would say the jury is still out and until they render a verdict we are simply engaging in speculation. The deck that was level and should have been sloped is also a factor. I was in meetings with a structural consultant who was quite blase about a leaking 3rd floor terrace of about 1200 sq Ft. .He claimed the rebar would not deteriorate, this was in my daughter’s waterfront Condo in Toronto. They did address the problem in a timely fashion. There are consultants out there who tell the client what they want to hear. If the cause in Miami was seawater ingress along the Miami shore damaging foundations that would have very serious consequences for the most expensive buildings in Miami and all their unit owners.

  7. Tom Stone

    I’ve looked at the SF Bay Area risk from Sea Level rise and it isn’t just the obvious areas such as the SF Downtown, Bay Farm Island, Treasure Island and Hwy 37 ( For a Start) it is also very much a risk to the levee’s for quite a few miles up the river.
    They are old, poorly maintained and riddled with snow crabs that emigrated from China.
    Add an earthquake to a king tide when sea levels have risen 6 inches and it could get interesting.
    And we will see pulses, a 6 inch rise in six months is well within the realm of possibility.
    The rate of change is accelerating across the board, it’s going to be a heck of a show.
    For the survivors.

    1. The Rev Kev

      San Francisco also has an additional problem in that so much of it is on landfill and former marshlands. After the 1906 earthquake, much of the rubble was utilized as landfill to create more land in San Francisco. Give a good earthquake and suddenly liquification will be a major problem-

      And this landfill also included dozens of ships as well-

      1. Acacia

        And IIRC, areas of landfill in SOMA and the Marina District liquified during the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, causing severe damage.

      2. Quant

        Most of the highrises, to and including the city’s tallest building, the “Salesfarce Tower”, are built on landfill, with pilings allegedly extending to bedrock that is hundreds of feet deeper than any piling can be transported through the streets.

        The leaning Millenium Tower is an obvious above ground manifestation of this.

        $100,000,000 Nice special assessment for your “investment”

        Dozens of condo towers around the city, as well as non ductile concrete midrises, i.e. Green and Jones Street, and high rises, even on hills and bedrock, are begging people to buy or rent within the potential coffins that will become maggot spawning rockpiles a few seconds after the Big One hits.

  8. Brooklin Bridge

    However, experts warn that only urgent, transformational action can avert worst-case climate scenarios, and that attempting to merely treat the symptoms of the climate emergency with measures like sea walls will ultimately fail.

    What is “transformational action” in this case? Assuming climate change is and/or will be the culprit or a major component of building failure and collapse in the Miami area -in this instance- is there something realistic that can be done to eliminate it or bring it under control, particularly given the geology of the area (prevalence of limestone being high on the list)?

    Ask that question again, but this time taking into account our political and ideological environment; in condensed form that is, money above all else. Moving elsewhere seems a hard yet inevitable choice but one that is certainly difficult if not impossible for so many.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Basically it would be a hard stop on combustion. Ban further sales of new gas/oil furnaces, vehicles, and power plants. Heavy carbon taxes on everything else. Basically make people financially desperate to stop burning stuff. We also need a different concrete formulation and iron smelting processes.

      A problem is we can’t build replacement equipment fast enough. So, a WWII style mobilization would be needed to change over factories to new tech. We could do it with enough fear, but we keep electing with hard right neo-nazis or center right milketoast. The left is still worried about inequality and nobody seems to care a whit about global thermodynamic catastrophe. The old are a big problem. They won’t do anything because they plan to die before / when it really hits the fan

      So it seems actual global disaster is required before the will to avert it can be achieved.

  9. jefemt

    The notion of all the carbon-based energy to bring in materials to build sea walls: concrete/ cement, big time embedded carbon, or hauling large rock etc, all that equipment, fuel, etc. Activity that adds to warming that exacerbates the problem. And that is just this man-made problem. There are multitudes…

    Fingers in the dike. Much cheaper to buy out the properties, turn them into commons/ garden/ ag land, and move the peeps to the mid-west ….

    Buy out because we are all too big to fail, need a bailout, and cannot strand assets on the strands…

    Central planning… The Chinese almost have it so good!

  10. Michael

    {{San Francisco is quite literally sinking. According to a new study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, the entire Bay Area is slowly plunging downward under the 3.5-trillion-pound weight of its own architecture and sprawl. While the downward pressure exerted by big buildings is a well-documented phenomenon, the levels seen in San Francisco are unprecedented: Some parts of downtown are sinking as much as three-quarters of an inch per year, and the Millennium Tower, a 645-foot-tall residential building, has sunk around 16 inches over the past decade. These elevation changes caused by buildings will be particularly problematic for coastal areas threatened by rising sea levels. “Sea level rise is an enormous threat to the Bay Area,” David Lewis, executive director of Save the Bay, tells the San Francisco Chronicle. “The effects are already being seen in king tides and extreme storms.”}}

  11. DanP66

    Getting REALLY tired of every storm or disaster being immediately attributed to global warming.

    Seems like every single time anything happens disaster related the “climate experts” have to participate.

    COULD a rising sea level have contributed? Sure.

    It could also be that the aquifers in the area have been drained for fresh water and the soil above is settling. Happens all over FL.

    I could also just be that the darn building was designed badly and poorly maintained. Would that be really shocking to anyone?

    How about a little less of the “me too” from the climate experts and a little more patience to see what the data tells us.

    1. Glossolalia

      It’s funny because for a blog that eschews the usual left/right orthodoxy on most subjects, when it comes to The Climate Crisis™ everyone on Naked Capitalism falls right in line.

      1. Isotope_C14

        The data shows heating, not cooling. 30 year satellite views of the arctic show the trend very clearly. Not really much else to debate on it.

      2. TomDority

        Not sure what you mean – please expand upon your thoughts for my edification – thanks

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If you are correct, then you have a potential contrarian investing opportunity opening up. Once enough Miamians are leaving Miami due their fear of The Climate Crisis™ that house and land prices have fallen to near zero, you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to spend all the money you have and can borrow on buying Miami land and houses.

        Then when The Climate Crisis™ fails to materialize as you predict it will fail to do, you will be in a position to resell the land and houses back to returning Miamians at the former full price.

        I sincerely hope you do that very thing.

      4. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, solid evidence has a habit of making people agree about a subject. Funny that.

    2. griffen

      I think we ought to hold off that judgment and armchair analysis until all the rescue activity is complete and a thorough report is released. I don’t know much about engineering. South Florida is very much not more than sand piled higher than the sea or ocean. I’m not close to anyone or anything either on this developing tragedy.

      It’s like blaming New Orleans for taking a direct hit in 2005. Just a few days afterwards.

  12. bongbong

    In a former life I was a Mech. Eng. who worked for a couple of Fortune 25 firms.

    IMHO, there were multiple causes for this. However to me the Smoking Gun, the Tipping Point, was the sudden sinking of the pool. That probably led to a displacemnt of whatever substrate the main structural verticals were resting on. This would have changed them from having mainly, or all, vertical loading to suddenly having a moment (torque) load added.

    So perhaps there was a long time leak from the pool which had hollowed out or weakened the ground it was in, and its collapse was the “starting” cause. Of course the weakened state of the tower itself (rusting rebar, cracked concrete, etc) was a big contributor after the pool collapse initiated the action.

    Contrast this with the 1993 WTC bombing. A bunch of structural supports were taken out in the garage, but the remaining suuports were in a highly-maintained state; so no collapse.

    1. synoia

      I believe Manhattan is mostly rock, and Florida is not. If true, that makes any comparison Between Manhattan and Florida somewhere between questionable and invalid.

    2. Matt

      Is “the sudden sinking of the pool” shorthand for something I’m not ‘getting’ because, when I look at the pictures from the next day, I see the pool fully intact, bright blue in the sunlight.

      1. JBird4049

        If I am looking at the right pictures, it is the building next door that still has the pool. The collapsed building has collapsed all over its own pool. Even if the pool is still there, it is under a mound of debris.

  13. Mikerw0

    Right now, almost like a plane crash, this is the story du jour. It makes for good tv camera footage, we all act slack jawed by the videos and pile of rubble.

    However, events like this are very rare. By the time we have any real, expert based assessment of the likely explanation the world will have moved on to the next shiny object. Particularly, as the answer is likely to have complexity and not suited to a 30 second sound bite.

    One of my major issues with climate change is that it is a slow moving catastrophe. At the individual level it is not easy for the general population to make the connections to their daily life and as it it truly global the solutions to the individual look daunting and unattainable. That said, once the accelerated disasters, which are occurring in real time, continue to mount it will be too late to do anything. In my opinion, we have passed that point as we seem societally unwilling to accept any modicum of inconvenience in our hydrocarbon based, industrial economy to make the changes the math says are necessary. Alas, when things get truly bad I will be dead.

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Yeah, but in this case the condo board did it to themselves. While we like to blame corporate greed for unsafe conditions, when it comes to ordinary citizens spending millions for their own safety, the end result is even more likely to be negligence. Probably a number of them paid the ultimate price for it.

      1. Gregory Etchason

        Fixed income in retirement explains why anyone would resist fixing thecondo

    1. Ian Ollmann

      Some day our ancestors will be waxing romantic over the Miami canals like we do of Venice.

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