Miami Beach Tidal Flooding, Past and Present

It can be interesting to look at a current news article about a reoccurring event and see how it compares to a similar story from decades past. The stories may be virtually identical, but the spin will be completely different.

First, the current story, from the New York Times (May 7, 2014):

nyt-miami-flooding

Screen capture from NYT, May 7, 2014. Click image for original story.

Some relevant quotes from the article:

“This never used to happen,” Mr. Toussaint said. “I’ve owned this place eight years, and now it’s all the time.”

And …

“The theme of the report is that climate change is not a future thing, it’s a ‘happening-now’ thing,” said Leonard Berry, a contributing author of the new report and director of the Florida Center for Environmental Studies at Florida Atlantic University. “Alton Road is one of the now things.”

Now, the corresponding historic story from The Miami News (Oct. 24, 1973):

frsom ddddd

Click image to expand. From news.google.com.

And some relevant quotes from that article:

“We usually get flooding when there are high tides,” she said, “but this year it seems particularly bad.”

And …

“We try to do the best we can to alleviate the problems, but in some areas it’s really difficult,” Aymonin said. “Parts of Miami Beach have settled six inches, and there are those who say the ocean water is rising, anyway.”

See what I mean? It’s essentially the same story, forty-one years apart. Yet the spin is completely different.

  • 1973: “We usually get flooding.”
  • 2014: “This never used to happen.”
  • 1973: “Parts of Miami have settled six inches.”
  • 2014: “Climate change is not a future thing, it’s a ‘happening-now’ thing.”

There is a followup post here: From Spin to Outright Lie. Check that post out if you’re interested in seeing how The Huffington Post mutated The New York Times spin into an outright fabrication.

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3 Responses to Miami Beach Tidal Flooding, Past and Present

  1. Rattlesnake says:

    What do you make of this climate change/global warming stuff in general? I’m reluctant to make any kind of decision about whether or not I trust these climate scienticians since I know very little about the climate, but I find it really hard to not be extremely skeptical about something that has been so politicized. You presumably have a better idea of what the actual consensus among scientists is about this than I do…

    More than anything though I am skeptical that even if humans are causing the climate to change there is much that big government would be able to do about it (especially with China and India producing much of the pollution). Is the sacrifice people would have to make fighting (but not necessarily solving) something that people keep telling me exists and to just trust them about that because of how loud and alarmist they are worse than whatever consequences will come from what they are telling me exists in a very shrill and alarmist fashion that makes them sound pretty paranoid and not quite level headed?

    • My interest in climate change is mostly about the spin of it, and how public discussion has degenerated to the point that anyone who suggests the world won’t end tomorrow is accused of being a “denier” and “anti-science.”

      The beautiful thing about science is that it doesn’t matter what pundits may say today. Science is a long term self-correcting process and the truth will win out in the end.

      Some climate data, like the measurement of atmospheric CO2 levels, is very good. It gets dispersed quickly in the atmosphere so it’s fairly uniform and noise free. Other data, like measurement of actual temperatures or sea levels, is noisy as hell and I think way too much is made out of it. My views are pretty close to those of Richard Lindzen: There is so much noise in the data that doing absolutely nothing makes as much sense or more sense than actually trying to curb emissions. People hate that though … the idea of uncertainty doesn’t sit will with people at all.

      Humans certainly have an effect on the climate, and probably a good portion of the CO2 rise that’s been observed over the last 100 years or so are is likely due to human activity. I’m pretty sure the world won’t end because of it though.

    • Rattlesnake says:

      It makes sense that humans are causing the climate to change in some way, especially considering how interconnected the climate is with things like plants. But I’ve found myself increasingly frustrated with how politicized this has gotten, to the point where I want to dismiss the entire field because it can no longer be trusted. You have a point though about how the truth will win out in the end; it honestly doesn’t seem like it at this point though, given how much influence politics and money seem to have right now.

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