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2020



From the Sea-Level Rise Desk

2020.07.01



Feds have $4.6 billion plan to protect Miami-Dade from hurricanes: walls and elevation
Alex Harris, Miami Herald
June 6, 2020

The Army Corps of Engineers released a plan proposing six (6) miles of sea walls along the Biscayne Bay coastline. The walls will range from one (1) to thirteen (13) feet high and are intended to protect three (3) key risk management areas at the Miami River, Little River, and the Biscayne Canal outfalls.

  • Designed to block storm surge from a 1-in-100 year event in the year 2079, factoring in the additional surge anticipated from three (3) feet of sea rise
  • Estimated cost: $4.6 billion. The federal government will pay 65 percent, leaving Miami-Dade County responsible for the balance
  • The plan projects $9 billion benefits in avoided losses
  • Reduces number of properties in Edgewater requiring acquisition through eminent domain
  • Offer little protect against seasonal tidal flooding

On the technical merits, this sounds like a perfectly rational plan. It is, in fact, profoundly stupid—a quintessential example of the Army Corps’ ability to engineer the humanity out of a project (if tasked to address skin cancer, the Army Corps would blot out the sun). For once, I hope South Florida’s apathy toward climate change overrides the imperative to address it.


On the Bike: Losing Daylight
Homestead, FL
2020.06.24






No, those aren’t freckles. Definitely gnats.

Notes on Riots

2020.06.08

The Videos That Rocked America. The Song That Knows Our Rage.
Wesley Morris, The New York Times
June 3, 2020

The most urgent filmmaking anybody’s doing in this country right now is by black people with camera phones. Their work comprises a ghastly visual mosaic of mistreatment, at best, and whose victims are international symbols of mourning: Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sandra Bland. Art is not the intent. These videos are the stone truth. Quaking proof of insult, seasick funerals. Livestreamed or uploaded, or suppressed then suspiciously unearthed as found footage. Last week, the archive grew by two, and now the nation’s roiling.

The Double Standard of the American Riot
Kellie Carter Jackson, The Atlantic
June 1, 2020

John Adams, demonstrative of the duality in white American liberalism, is noted historically as a staunch abolitionist, but ungirds the notion of white supremacy through political and legal argumentation:

Since the beginning of this country, riots and violent rhetoric have been markers of patriotism… Force and violence have always been used as weapons to defend liberty, because—as John Adams once said in reference to the colonists’ treatment by the British—“We won’t be their Negroes.”

Black rebellion and protest, though, have historically never been coupled with allegiance to American democracy… [Cripus] Attucks was one of a handful of protesters killed by British forces during the Boston Massacre. The lawyer tasked with defending the British soldiers in their American criminal trial was none other than Adams. When presenting his case, Adams described the men those soldiers killed as “a motley rabble of saucy boys, negroes and molattoes [sic], Irish teagues and outlandish jack tarrs.” He built his defense of the British soldiers on the charge that Attucks struck the first blow and led the “dreadful carnage.”

A somber assessment of the role of violence in affecting social change:

If violence is a political language, white Americans are native speakers. But black people are also fluent in the act of resistance… Throughout history, black people have employed violence, nonviolence, marches, and boycotts. Only one thing is clear—there is no form of black protest that white supremacy will sanction. Still, black people understand the utility of riotous rebellion: Violence compels a response. Violence disrupts the status quo and the possibility of returning to business as usual. So often the watershed moments of historical record are stamped by violence—it is the engine that propels society along from funerals to fury and from moments to movements.

In December 1866, the famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass… reflected on the benefits of rebellion: “There is cause to be thankful even for rebellion. It is an impressive teacher, though a stern and terrible one.” He then concluded, “The thing worse than rebellion is the thing that causes rebellion.”

Many people are asking if violence is a valid means of producing social change. The hard and historical answer is yes.
U.S. Businesses Brace for Damage as Tensions Grow Over Hong Kong
Newley Purnell, The Wall Street Journal
2020.05.31

Pro-business advocates note that the elimination of special treatment will be detrimental for Hong Kong, but will also impact U.S. companies

U.S. Interests in Hong Kong
  • “About 85,000 U.S. citizens work in [Hong Kong] with more than 1,300 U.S. companies operating [sic], some with regional headquarters… The U.S. is Hong Kong’s second-largest trading partner, after China, accounting for 6.2% of trade last year.”
  • “The U.S. has maintained a trade surplus that Hong Kong officials say ‘amounted to $297 billion between 2009 to 2018,’ in order to show how U.S. interests are also at risk.”
  • “Controls on exports may hurt the U.S. economically more than Hong Kong, which has a minimal manufacturing sector and doesn’t export”

Capital and Talent Flight
  • Anecdotal inquiries indicate that the number of “residents in the city seeking to emigrate had risen from about 10 per day before the new security law was revealed to about 100 per day now.”
  • “Businesses in Europe have depended on Hong Kong’s support for principles such as individual liberties and the rule of law, and that without them, ‘the allure of this important city will be greatly diminished.’”
  • Many companies will choose to stay as they are in Hong Kong for gateway access to China, as well as for its low tax regime and free flow of capital.
Page, Jeremy, and Wong, Han Chan, “Beyond Hong Kong, an Emboldened Xi Jinping Pushes the Boundaries.” The Wall Street Journal, May 29, 2020.

More aggressive posture on Taiwan: “In references to dealing with and assimilating the island in an annual policy speech, [Premier Li Keqiang] dropped China’s usual calls for a “peaceful” approach—a departure from nearly 30 years of precedent. “

Increased military spending: “last Friday it announced a 6.6% rise in defense spending. That’s lower than its increase of 7.5% for 2019 but still a substantial amount given this year’s projected 0.2% drop in total government expenditure.”

Increasing activity in South China Sea: “Beijing has further upset the status quo in the South China Sea in recent weeks. It created two new administrative districts in contested areas, named 80 geographical features there—the first such Chinese move since 1983—and sent ships into waters off Vietnam and Malaysia.”