Why I wrote this bookApril 7, 2021
Recent JourneyApril 30, 2021
It is a new experience for someone who has spent a career in the 17th Century to write about the future. In concluding the “Lure of the Beach” I speculated about the future of sea level rise and its impact on resorts and beaches in general. When I was writing and had to consult contemporary opinion it was only the most drastic position to argue beaches would have to be abandoned to the sea in low lying areas. That meant permitting thousands of homes to be gobbled up by the ocean, disrupting lives and who knows what value of property would have to be surrendered. Well just three years later things have changed. The estimate now is that half a trillion dollars coastal real estate will be under water by the end of the century. While the federal government has brought trillion into common parlance it is still a staggering sum. What has also changed is that state governments are beginning to face up to the challenge. Louisiana has divided its southeastern coast into three zones, the most high risk are now to “transition away from permanent residential development.” The Florida Keys administration has admitted there is simply not enough money to raise every road above rising tides. In North Carolina taxes on beach property on the Outer Banks will rise dramatically to pay for the upkeep of the single road that wends its way along the Banks and is very vulnerable in storms. Virginia issued a coastal plan acknowledging that inundation by the sea will force retreat from the coast. California also has a plan for strategic withdrawal from beach areas. When it was issued it was regarded as radical but such language is now becoming ever more common and the fears of coastal residents ever greater. So it won’t be this year, but it is now inevitable unless there is a dramatic change in policy that the ocean will rise relentlessly.