The sea on the tide has no way of turning

The sea on the tide has no way of turning June 13, 2018

We have safely returned from the Island of Avalon and I can reaffirm its legendary status as a good place to rest and recuperate.

Has there been a movie/book/comic in which, due to some magical mix-up, King Arthur returns to Avalon, N.J.? Seems like there should be — nice set-up for a kind of inverse Connecticut Yankee tale. Include Jersey shore versions of Morgan and Merlin and I’m going to want to see that movie.

About five years ago, we rented a little ranch house on the bay side. Drove past it yesterday and saw that it was gone, replaced by one of the ginormous four-story multi-decked investment-property McMansions that now cover most of the island and make it unlikely we’ll be able to afford renting there for any foreseeable future vacations.

The development and real estate boom on the island seems to be another example of America’s death-bet approach to economics, infrastructure, community, and civilization in general. Property prices there are rising, but so is the sea level. This is no longer hypothetical. It is now likely, predictable and reasonably expected that sea levels along the Jersey shore will be 2 meters higher by the latter half of this century.

Here’s what that looks like using NOAA’s not-yet-shut-down Sea Level Rise and Coast Viewer:

That’s not even accounting for tides, storm surges, or rainfall. And a 2-meter rise is, at this point, almost the best-case scenario.

In a strictly mathematical sense, most of the folks making their death bet about Avalon property values are probably correct. Most of them will not likely still be around in 40 or 50 years to see the landscape of this island massively changed with most of those million-dollar properties flooded. So their wager is, on that level, completely rational.

But that “rationality” only makes sense if we also qualify it by saying that these folks cannot know — or care at all about — anyone who will likely still be around a generation from now.

Walk around the lovely resort town of Avalon this summer and that is what you will see, expressed in tangible physical form, everywhere you look — a death bet built with plunder taken from future generations. It’s a really beautiful place, but also, in a sense, a really ugly one.

Anyway, I’m back and getting back up to speed here. Here’s a bit of tangentially appropriate Roxy Music:


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