Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Drowning in Your Dreams

Mankind has, with increasing speed during the Industrial Age, found ways to make more and better and cheaper and very easily available things -- to the point that the self-storage business and 3,500 square foot homes full of the latest televisions are in every town.  But one desire that can't be satiated in this way is a nice warm place to live by the water, with most of those desireable first-world amenities at hand.  Once made accessible and livable, they're for the Romney bunch to own and yours only for a week or so on a rental basis.  Those adventurers who heard of new places where living under the palm trees was, if not easy at first, at least very affordable, long before anyone else -- I wonder how, before the internet, did they find out about them?  Now developers can resell waterfront lots from a $200 purchase made in the 60s in Costa Rica or Panama for a million plus. 
But now the middle class, not too sure about Mexico or more faraway places that still have dengue fever and backroad bandits, can look to Florida or the Southeastern coast for surprising bargains due to the 2006 - 2008 real estate bubble burst.  In a previous post, I noted what we saw around Ruskin, at the south end of Tampa Bay:  many choices and prices like it was 40 years earlier.  I was most interested in established areas as opposed to the gated "arrested developments" with no hope of a neighborhood ever growing.  If you're willing to downgrade from your Northern suburban comfort a little to gain subtropical breezes, waterbirds, sunsets over the Gulf and no mornings under freezing, there are fixer-uppers just yards from the water (bay, river or canal) -- and lots of them.  And enough left over for a boat.  You could be knocking on heaven's gate in a month.
But don't. More than your toes are going to get wet.
The sea level is only rising about the thickness of about two nickels a year:  that doesn't sound like cause for extreme caution, does it?  Especially if you go along with the crowd, which is more skeptical of global warming and its effects than ever.  Well, the crowd thought getting on the hook for a $600,000 mortgage in 2005 was the way to go.  Take a look at the interactive map at http://www.flood.firetree.net/, where you can dial in several projected figures for sea level rise and see what will be inundated.  At +9 meters (that's a lot, maybe by 2100 or so), the eastern 1/4 of North Carolina, the lower 1/3 of Louisiana, south Florida, Hampton Roads in Virginia, and the Bahamas are gone.  Little Delaware and peaceful Ruskin, Florida, too.
The beaches of North Topsail Island and Nags Head (where we spent some wonderful weeks years ago) are already retreating; 2000 square miles of coastal North Carolina is less than 40" above water.  Coastal tourists in the area now spend about $2.3 billion a year.  Gone, along with the sparkling sand and the lighthouses. 
Low inland areas connected to the sea, like the valley from Sacramento to Stockton, California, also will disappear.  Storms, increasing in quantity and strength, will multiply the damage.  Salt water will intrude into, and render useless, groundwater now far from it.
Think of the human migration problem, which mankind has not been good at solving so far in history (the Palestinian refugee camps are getting old and just as miserable as ever).  Lots of Bahamians in a much smaller Florida?  You'll be better off watching the Travel Channel on one of those new TVs.


1 comment:

  1. Thinking about moving? You still need to satisfy your desires while you can, but remember. All that seaside property with its breezes and views....have neighbors.