On the Edge of the Ocean: Florida and Sea Level Rise

As the Florida legislature takes up sea level rise, I keep hearing voices from the past resonate over the conversation.  This passage, from Willis Blatchley’s A Nature Wooing at Ormond By The Sea (1902), highlights one northern visitor’s awareness of the state’s precarious seat on the edge of the ocean almost 120 years ago.

This isn’t a secret, of course. You could find thousands of similar quotes and passages in Florida history. But it can be easy to forget when just about every reporter writing a story about sea level rise in Florida pretends that seawater washing over the peninsula is a new problem instead of an ancient trend.

To be sure, sea level rise is a new problem. Understanding that Florida is built from the ocean, however, that it was seafloor not so long ago, and that it is a vast watery expanse even at the best of times, can help us adapt intelligently.

Screenshot from 2019-03-21 23-14-53