South Florida as 51st state: The City of South Miami votes to break away.

South Florida Is Leaving the Rest of the State One Way or Another

South Florida Is Leaving the Rest of the State One Way or Another

Future Tense
The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Oct. 23 2014 5:53 PM

South Florida’s Desperate Secession Movement

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Jacquie Ayala (L) and Amanda Lawrence call on the presidential candidates to talk about their plans to fight climate change on October 18, 2012 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

One way or another, South Florida is leaving the rest of the state. The Mayor of South Miami just wants to speed that process up a bit.

An unprecedented lucky streak of few serious hurricanes is lulling South Florida residents into a false sense of security. The threat from powerful storms, mixed with the now inevitability of 10 feet of sea level rise, means that Miami will likely be one of the first American cities to wink out of existence due to climate change.

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Sooner or later, Miami will sink into the sea.

In a resolution passed by the mayor and city commission on a 3-2 vote earlier this month, the City of South Miami proposed that, because of the unique threat climate change poses to its part of the state, the region should immediately break away and form the 51st state:

Whereas, South Florida’s situation is very precarious and in need of immediate attention. Many of the issues facing South Florida are not political, but are now very significant safety issues; and

Whereas, presently, in order to address the concerns of South Florida, it is necessary to travel to Tallahassee in North Florida. Often South Florida issues do not receive the support of Tallahassee. This is despite the fact that South Florida generates more than 69 percent of the state’s revenue and contains 67 percent of the state’s population; and

Whereas, the creation of the 51st state, South Florida, is a necessity for the very survival of the entire southern region of the current state of Florida.

Mayor Philip Stoddard, quoted in the Orlando Sentinel—Disney World, by the way, would be part of the new state—didn’t mince words. “It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean," Stoddard said. "They’ve made that abundantly clear every possible opportunity and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.” The city’s vice mayor and author of the measure, Walter Harris, agreed in a lengthy interview with Vice News.

Secessionist movements like this one (and others in Colorado, California, Texas, and Vermont) have failed for generations. But this time feels different. For the first time, a region of the United States is in a for-real existential battle, and its central government­—personified by Gov. Rick “I’m not a scientist” Scott—doesn’t seem to care.

Our planet’s current carbon-guzzling path ensures Miami is a city living on borrowed time. But now, you can’t fault them for taking matters into their own hands.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Eric Holthaus is a meteorologist who writes about weather and climate for Slate’s Future Tense. Follow him on Twitter.