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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Insurance triage

Heres the scenario: its 2060 and there are very powerful interest groups petitioning congress to erect levees and raise the grade around the coast of The USA by at least six feet. Category one hurricanes are swamping Miami, a lot of Houston and the other usual disaster prone cities. The powerful southern bloc rages in the house to start immediately on these massive projects that dwarf the pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China times ten. It's too damn late.

Now is the time to draw the borders around the areas we will expend the resources to save from the coming multi meter rise in sea levels. The major cities are all up for the short list. Boston, New York, Baltimore, some of Houston, LA, Portland, some of San Francisco,  and Seattle will make the cut for sure. NYNY will be really expensive, but is indispensable to the economy. Most of Florida's cities will have to go. Alas, long suffering and cultural jewel New Orleans won't make it. It's already below sea level and another two to ten meters of seawater will just be overwhelming. Nobody wants to lose all those coastal towns and un protectable rural areas, but we will never have sufficient resources to build sea walls tall enough or long enough to save everything, and we will need for the private developers to know what will be safe to invest in. If we do this triage now, we may be able to enlist the economically powerful who own all that expensive, if soon to be inundated, real estate near the oceans and gulf. If you think the deficit is bad now, just,wait until millionaires are clamoring  for federal dykes to protect their estates in the Hamptons or other upscale , but low level, ocean facing communities. Every year it becomes more obvious that the science of global warming, and subsequent rise in sea level will never be able to overcome the Koch brothers' and coal / oil / gas  noise machine. We have to get out ahead of this thing before it consumes us all. We probably only have thirty years before things become acute, and politically frozen. This scenario is the result of the war on the scientific method and the indifference of the citizenry to reality and preference for magical thinking.

There is the strong possibility that an extended solar minimum that we are starting may save our bacon, but at best it's a four to one against. I'm going to be long dead by the time this all comes to a head, and my kids will be pretty damn old.

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