Last November, I posted about a proposal from attorney, Mitchell Chester, on how to adapt to sea level rise in South Florida, Raising Fields: What History Can Teach Us. If you own property in South Florida now, are considering moving or investing in property here, or do business in any of these sectors: construction, tourism or agriculture to choose three biggies mentioned in State of Florida Facts, you need to listen up. In fact, if you are in any way betting your future prosperity on the State of Florida, you need to take the optimistic language of the state government documents and local business journals with a huge grain of salt.
Let’s agree that you don’t need convincing of the scientific facts of sea level rise (SLR) and are ready to prepare and protect yourself, your family, home, and business against the likelihood of severe financial shocks ahead. Far from gloom and doom, Mr. Chester offers a calm, reasoned and even optimistic approach to the challenges that make us Floridians, as coastal dwellers on a porous limestone landmass, exceptionally at risk from a rising ocean. Mr. Chester proposes we adopt financial adaptation tools like a SLR Relocation Account to ease the financial burden of relocation should it come to that. He argues for a more vigorous involvement from the insurance industry than has been evident so far. Industry and government partnership, Chester believes, could make necessity the mother of invention as adaptation and mitigation strategies across the spectrum of financial products become new economic opportunity. Check out the Tools Menu for more.
If you are confused as some of our politicians seem to be about the difference between natural variations in weather cycles and climate change, the section Shoreline Adaptation Land Trusts: A Concept for Rising Sea Level (SALT) by John Englander, author of High Tide on Main Street (recommended) will be helpful. In addition to proposing a new political/legal strategy for threatened coastal regions, it distinguishes between frequent occurrences of coastal flooding and beach erosion which many communities already experience, and the irreversible effects on coast areas caused by melting glaciers “which will inexorably work to reshape all the continents.” Here’s how the summary to Englander’s position paper concludes: Strategic Adaptation Land Trusts could be a useful tool and catalyst for this unprecedented transition upwards and inland. We can rise with the tide –– if we anticipate it in time.
A year ago, Mitchell Chester wanted to save Florida’s agriculture with a proven method for raising fields (“For [Florida’s] agriculture, it’s either up or out.”) His latest work (see below) reminds us that we are all stakeholders in what happens here in the decades just ahead. He invites us to brainstorm on how we can face the risks as well as seize the opportunities a new geography for this state demands of all its citizens, and possibly model it for the rest of the world.