Our Warning last Fall about the perils of sea level rise to Florida’s future was too conservative. Researchers at Tulane University have determined that sea levels in the Florida/Gulf Coast region are rising at a rate of 6 inches per decade versus the estimate a year ago of 2 inches. This is a big deal; much of the seaside residential areas of the Southeast US only have a couple feet to spare.
Even modest storms now cause havoc, as we saw firsthand during a TCC Florida visit to the exclusive “Beach Club” on Palm Beach Island last week. We watched as a strong Nor’easter pushed ocean waves and seaweed over the club’s seawall into the pool. The “beach” at the “Beach Club” was gone and the members looked worried. The next day a very heavy rainstorm flooded out large chunks of residential Fort Lauderdale and shut down the airport for 48 hours, where we were stuck trying to fly home.
FL Gov. Ron DeSantis keeps maligning “woke” ESG policies designed to slow global warming and sea level rise, but Floridians are already bearing the cost of climate change. Home insurance premiums (already high) are set to almost double in 2023 vs. 2022, making Florida a lot less affordable than it was. The reason: in 2022 Hurricane Ian caused 149 deaths and $110 Billion in damage across West/Central Florida with its 10-15-foot storm surge.
Meanwhile, gas cars are now “Embarrassingly Uncompetitive“ with EVs on total cost of ownership (TCO). First, the Tesla Model 3 and Y and the GM Chevy Bolt now qualify for The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA’s) full $7,500 tax credit (a dollar-for-dollar price reduction). Second, Tesla just cut the price of its Model 3 to $39,999 before the credit and $32,500 after the credit. The TCO of a Model 3 is 33% less than a BMW 330 X Drive and on par with a Toyota Corolla LE 2.0. The Chevy Bolt can now be had with the credit for ~$22,000 and it’s cheaper to purchase and drive than any other ICE car. These estimates are conservative as there is growing evidence EVs can do 50% more lifetime miles than ICE vehicles. EVs are also faster and quieter, don’t smell or pollute and cut fossil fuel consumption. If you don’t have easy access to charging or do lots of long road trips, an EV might not be right for you, but otherwise it’s a no brainer at this point.
The final nail in the coffin for ICE vehicles was the EPA's announcement last week sharply tightening emissions for ICE vehicle fleets for the 2027 model year and beyond. The US started regulating toxic vehicle emissions, like particulate matter, carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, with the Clean Air Act decades ago. While most folks are unaware, these toxic tailpipe pollutants still aren’t under control. The EPA has ample authority to further cut emissions to save lives and improve human health, never mind slow climate change. This will force the big automakers to curtail ICE vehicle production in favor of EVs and hybrids.