Florida Trend | Florida's Business Authority

CEO Sounding Board - Sea Level Rise

Tony Carvajal
Executive vice president - Florida Chamber Foundation - Tallahassee

“We haven’t settled on an opinion on whether (sea level rise) is happening more. As a foundation, actually, I doubt we will. We help businesses plan and prepare for any number of different contingencies. I’m a scientist, so I read the reports. But at the end of the day, businesses want to know how to respond to land, water and environmental pressures in Florida. Just as important as sea level rise is the fact that we will have 6 million more people here by 2030. All those things interrelate to sea level rise.”


Jayantha Obeysekera
Chief modeler - South Florida Water Management District - West Palm Beach

“I was in the Netherlands in November. They have very strong dikes and levies. They are designed for the one-in-10,000-year sea level rise. Failure is not an option for them because 70% could be inundated if the dikes fail. They don’t have the porous geology that we have. So they can build a dike or levy and get away with it, but we can’t build a dike because water would come underground. We can still learn from what they have done.”


Leonard Berry
Director - Florida Center for Environmental Studies, FAU - Boca Raton

“The small amount of sea level rise we’ve had over the last 50 years is already showing up as high tides and in particular moon situations. We get coastal flooding not over the barriers but up through the drains. In Miami-Dade and in Broward, that is happening right now with current high tides. As sea level rises, we will have more of that regular flooding of some coastal areas. The biggest impact will be during a storm, during a hurricane.”


Lynne McChristian
Florida representative - Insurance Information - Institute Tampa

“Insurance decisions are based on data, and the data show increasing losses due to storm surge. Whether or not that is related to sea level rise is something for the scientists to decide. What insurers see is that disaster losses are increasing and the expectation is for this trend to continue, primarily because of continued coastal development. Building in areas where storm surge and flooding are most likely to occur just puts more people and property at risk.”