The collapse of a 12-story building in the Florida beach town of Surfside on June 24th raised many questions, one of which particularly worrying—is climate change behind it?
Experts are researching the chilling possibility that rising sea levels could have caused the tragedy that took at least 11 lives. One hundred fifty residents of the condominium complex are still unaccounted for. The partially collapsed Champlain Towers South building was 40 years old and had a roof full of construction equipment when 55 of the 136 units crashed to the ground.
Experts believe there may be an environmental cause behind “the sinking.”
A problem with the building’s foundation is the first thing that comes to mind due to the way the building collapsed. The ground under the condo building is porous limestone, which is typical for that part of Florida. Limestone, sand, and mud are not very resistant to saltwater damage, and because of climate change, there’s more water each passing year.
The hypothetical scenario goes like this:
Rising sea levels pushed saltwater further up into the porous limestone, causing irreversible damage over the years. A 2019 report by the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact (SFRCC) noted that sea levels increased by nearly four inches between 2000 and 2007 in this part of Florida. Eventually, part of the limestone collapsed, taking with it half of the complex.
Added to this, the ground in this area has been sinking at a rate of approximately two millimeters per year since the 1990s, according to a researcher at Florida International University.
It is still early to tell whether there’s any truth in this theory, but Floridians living in similar housing along the coastline may have reason to be concerned.
Even though many consumers in the Western world are doing their best to limit their ecological imprint, it might be already too late.