Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Quit building on the coasts, dammit!

July's National Geographic magazine had a feature story on the increasing degradation of our nation's coasts, particularly in light of the impending boomer retirement.

Today's NYTimes had an article about climate researchers who disagree on the importance of human-caused climate change in hurricane trends, but who all agree that our country is building too much too fast on the coasts. These trends are encouraged by friendly disaster insurance created through political pressure.

This isn't neuroscience, theoretical ecology, rocket science, or even a challenging rubik's cube. This is straightforward: our coasts are important, and they are delicate.

As the interface between two ecosystems - terrestrial and aquatic - our coasts are critically important for our ecological health (remember, we are part of these ecosystems just as much as seaweed, horseshoe crabs, squirrels and beetles). The coasts are also extremely dynamic...a simple example: beaches are supposed to be destroyed during storms, a process balanced by slow rebuilding during times of gentle wave action.

Human construction to interrupt natural processes like beach building, tidal movement, wetland migration, barrier island formation, etc, is going to screw up the coast. No two ways about it. We need to get serious about mitigating our coastal damage, and being thoughtful about new construction.

3 comments:

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

I suspect if you were to reduce or eliminate Fema insurance, you wouldn't have the problems that you reference.

A Green Cowboy said...

That was the implied opinion in the NYT article as well. It seems justified to me - if you choose to take the extreme risk of locating your home or business in a very dangerous area that is only getting more dangerous with time, you should be willing to pay out the nose.

It sounds harsh, but to an extent it makes sense. It isn't based on a belief in "more" or "less" government, but on ecological values that need to be respected.

Maybe building just shouldn't even be allowed in some areas...

xtrachromosomeconservative said...

It is about government. Disaster insurance exists because the private market does not typically offer an insurance product or for certain areas an affordable one. In doing so, the government allows people, ney, encourages people to ignore risk, all the while putting the taxpayer on the hook when it comes time to pay out.