What happens when Florida vanishes?

There’s a decent chance that global warming will eventually leave Florida (and maybe Louisiana and Delaware) entirely underwater. There’s no provision in the U.S. Constitution for a state ceasing to physically exist. How will this play out?

If sea levels rise that much, we’ll have a lot bigger problems than that.

The highest spot in Florida, according to Google, is nearly 100 meters high. If we get 300 feet of sea level rise I don’t think we’ll be worried about parsing the constitution wrt a state disappearing. :wink:

Now, if California falls off into the ocean due to The Big One, that would be another matter. I’m not sure what happens then. I assume that whatever crumbs are left over in the state will be annexed by neighboring states and it will just be taken off the books, or maybe several new states will be reformed…after all, nearly all of the states, especially in the west went through various configurations and changes in boundaries before becoming a state, so there isn’t really anything saying that couldn’t happen again.

Social security payments by the government goes down as do sales of trailers.

Migratory patterns of snowbirds will be completely ruined.

Harbor mines, sand buried Claymores, and a period of well-fed sea life hither to unseen in well over 1000 years.

Other than the constitution, which addresses changes in the boundaries of states.

But if we lose Florida, we’ve also lost most of our port cities such as New York, Norfolk, San Diego, etc., etc., etc., and, yeah, figuring out what to do about any remnants of the state will be the least of our problems.

There’s a difference between “highest spot in Florida” and mean elevation, especially the elevation of the most populated areas, which in many cases is no more than a few feet. Here’s an elevation map. And here’s one that shows Florida after a 20m sea level rise. At that point the state pretty much no longer exists. More than half the state is gone in terms of land area, but more importantly, virtually all the most populated areas are gone. Storm surges are already a worsening problem, as they are further up the coast, too. One of the big concerns is that various factors may increase the rate of sea level rise, notably polar amplification of temperature rise and non-linear ice sheet disintegration.

Yes, but “half the state is underwater” is different than “the state vanishes”. Losing half the state and all the most populated cities is a monumental disaster, but raise no constitutional issues. Florida would still be a state exactly as it was before, even if 90% of the population of the state has migrated to Georgia. Even if 90% of the population leaves Florida still wouldn’t be in the bottom ten. https://simple.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_U.S._states_by_population

But this will happen gradually over hundreds of years. The cities will migrate, or will be abandoned and new port cities will evolve.

No one is addressing the meat of my question: What happens (from a Constitutional perspective) if a state physically ceases to exist?

FL will not disappear. Some will simply be submerged.
Hipwaders. Houses on stilts. Living on and doing business by boat like some Asian communities. Lots more opportunities for scuba and snorkel businesses. Homes for fish.

Is there a difference between ‘half the state might be submerged’ and ‘Florida vanishes’, because I was kind of addressing my own comments (tongue in cheek) to the latter. Looking at your second link, looks to me as if there is still enough state there to be considered a ‘state’…it will still have more land area than some current states, even if it’s diminished.

ETA: Or what Lemur866 said.

Well, shit. My house is north of Orlando but south of Sanford and it looks like I’ll either own some nice seafront property or an undersea lair.

Zimmerman will have to learn to tread water if he wants to stand his ground.

“We blame the Liberals.”

I suppose a state more likely to “vanish” due to natural disaster would be Hawaii, but in any case I’d expect a constitutional amendment to Article 4 before a state could be written off.

The kicker here is that no state may, without its consent, be denied its equal representation in the Senate, and that can’t be changed even with an amendment. If a state disappeared gradually, then one would hope that the remnant of the state would at some point consent to loss of its Senate representation and status as a state. If it happened too abruptly for that to occur, then the legal fiction of the state’s existence would have to be maintained until such time as we could pass an amendment abolishing the Senate (zero Senators for everyone is still “equal representation”, so that would be doable).

What’s the legal status of private property which becomes part of the ocean? Can the owner of record mount No Trespassing signs to buoys? What if it’s no longer in territotial waters?

I suspect it would be the same as if the Nazis had annexed Florida in WWII. We’d pretend they didn’t, maintain publicly that the state was still ours, and do whatever we could to bring it back into the fold.

I can imagine some displaced people still claiming residence in Florida, and those people would elect representatives and senators, and probably advocate for an extensive government restoration project involving dykes or something. Either that or government funding for underwater domes. US politics during this era would be messy, but probably not as messy as during the Civil War.

I pondered that in the Giraffe boards, but the hypothetical was with an asteroid, much faster and to the point.

Some thoughts from that thread:


The thread died with no answer to one big question I had: what if the new state is calculated to become more “Blue” or democratic? (Imagine if it is Arkansas the one that is wiped out) Is there a way more conservative states would push the federal government to ensure that the “new” state remains a “Red” one?