Hubris, engineering prowess and lack of information lead humans to believe things will always be as they are now. Nature is teaching a different lesson that governments should heed.
In Rodanthe, North Carolina, once solid beachfront homes have been falling into the ocean. Eroding sand and rising tides inexorably wash away what owners once believed was permanence.
The myth of permanence is reinforced by ancient ruins that still speak of Roman glory and Greek intellect. What is not obvious, or even imaginable, is what else was there that didn’t survive. Only Pompeii’s ghostly representations of people scrambling to survive a volcanic eruption give a glimpse in stone of how fast changes could happen in the benign Italian environment.
When a beautiful vista is calling your name, decisions for the longterm seem rational. Despite high tides burying parts of streets in sand and water regularly in Rodanthe, recent buyers have sunk major investments into what they thought were permanent properties only to watch the wreckage of those assumptions drift out to sea.
Part of the job of government is to manage expectations in light of the knowledge officials possess in order to protect residents of their jurisdictions.
In the early 1970s, Ketchum established avalanche zones to keep vulnerable residences out of harm’s way.
One out-of-state buyer called city officials to protest restrictions that prevented building a home. When he received the news that an avalanche had crushed an empty house next door, he explained “My Realtor didn’t tell me that.”
Governments can’t stop nature. Sadly, they too often won’t stop the powerful industries that ignore the dangers nature poses either.
Last week, the Biden administration announced it would approve the Willow project in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, the largest public landholding in the U.S. Conoco-Phillips wants to exploit promising new oil sources in the reserve where areas were also set aside for “maximum protection” of the environment.
Allowing oil exploration will likely produce political benefits for President Biden, but it will only make the problems of climate change bigger.
This approval is an example of government ignoring its responsibility to those who will live in a predictably damaged future in favor of an impermanent but profitable present.
The ocean will run over homes along the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Sands under Highway One in California will fall away. Winter snows and torrential rains and hurricane-force winds will come more frequently. Atmospheric science will prevail over engineering specs.
Local officials should make watching videos of homes being washed off their foundations mandatory in Rodanthe real estate transactions. President Biden should retract his Willow project approval.
The effects of a changing climate must become every government’s prime objective.
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We could also vote to stop taxing ourselves to subsidized tourism. Let the tourism industry pay for itself.
The irony of the this editorial! You know what one of the least climate friendly industries is? Tourism. Here are some things we could do in the WRV to be more climate friendly. Not keep expanding SUN, especially for private aviation. Private planes have a massive carbon footprint per passenger. Create a micro grid energy program for the WRV. Right now 1/3 of our power comes from coal, and we are at the mercy of IPC on that. Change the nature of the contract with Mountain Rides to provide incentives to get people out of cars rather than just pay them to run certain hours of service. Instead of providing almost free water to Elkhorn golf course and Weyakking, all water coming out of the Water Treatment Facility could be returned to the river, to mitigate its drying up. We could change the zoning code to favor local business and to require greener building processes. We could regulate the number of AirBNBs under the neighborhood protection statute. I’m w sure many other people have more ideas on this. it would be nice to hear from the Ketchum Sustainability committee and the County Sustainability Commission. So far, our community accomplishments could use a boost: https://www.co.blaine.id.us/978/Our-Accomplishments
Welcome to the discussion.