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Sunday, 04 September 2016

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Living here in Central Victoria, Australia, at 500m above sea level, I am more concerned about our next fire season, which threatens to be very dangerous after heavier-than-usual rains over winter promote thick understorey growth. Add that to the real threat of Greenland's ice cap melting faster than ever, (and accelerating) gushing cold water into the North Atlantic, deflecting the Gulf Stream, and throwing Europe and North America's weather and climate into total chaos........ But then yesterday, as Spring sprung forth, I had an absolutely delightful hour in the local playground with my three year old granddaughter, taking beautiful photos with my new-ish love , my 75mm f1.8 Zuiko on my E-M1, and I thought all was well on Earth!! -- I do wonder how the Earth will be when she's my age. Only thing absolutely certain about climate change is total uncertainty!! And inertia from our two major political parties here in Australia, both of which support the development of the southern hemisphere's largest coal mine, which will destroy the Great Barrier Reef....

For some the tipping point is already here: http://www.bricksmagazine.co.uk/#!Documenting-the-Effects-of-Climate-Change-in-Bangladesh/c1sp5/57c2b12ac00ac9b9941e4b87

The Lord helps those who help themselves, but this November Louisiana will vote for a lying climate change denier who wants to burn more coal. Their biggest city is below water level and they will vote to raise water levels. Of course, when it happens they will be the first in line asking the hated Federal government to bail them out, both figuratively and literally.

Quote:

Five years ago, the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization published a report called “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which maintained that 18 percent of greenhouse gases were attributable to the raising of animals for food. The number was startling.

A couple of years later, however, it was suggested that the number was too small. Two environmental specialists for the World Bank, Robert Goodland (the bank’s former lead environmental adviser) and Jeff Anhang, claimed, in an article in World Watch, that the number was more like 51 percent. It’s been suggested that that number is extreme, but the men stand by it, as Mr. Goodland wrote to me this week: “All that greenhouse gas isn’t emitted directly by animals.  “But according to the most widely-used rules of counting greenhouse gases, indirect emissions should be counted when they are large and when something can be done to mitigate or reduce them.”

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/05/15/we-could-be-heroes

Another quote:

Curbing the world’s huge and increasing appetite for meat is essential to avoid devastating climate change, according to a new report. But governments and green campaigners are doing nothing to tackle the issue due to fears of a consumer backlash, warns the analysis from the thinktank Chatham House.

The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, but a worldwide survey by Ipsos MORI in the report finds twice as many people think transport is the bigger contributor to global warming.

“Preventing catastrophic warming is dependent on tackling meat and dairy consumption, but the world is doing very little,” said Rob Bailey, the report’s lead author. “A lot is being done on deforestation and transport, but there is a huge gap on the livestock sector."
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/03/eating-less-meat-curb-climate-change

There will be a lot of underwater mortgages then.

Climate change is just a Chinese plot to devalue a certain Palm Beach estate.

Seriously, read the editorial in the latest Scientific American, a publication that eschews politics except when it presents an extreme danger to science and therefore our country.

Another point: whenever someone dismisses climate change by saying "It's only a theory" immediately is signalling that they have no idea what science is and where it gets its power. Thus they're susceptible to the interests that are deliberately using the same techniques to fool people that the cigarette companies used to "prove" that there is no harm in smoking.

I'll conclude with a powerful quote: “The good thing about science is that it's true whether or not you believe in it.” ― Neil deGrasse Tyson

I was looking at some of the housing around SF Bay this afternoon and thinking exactly the same thing!!

Anyone who denies global warning will not get my vote.

Coincidentally, there's a piece in the New York Times today (likely behind the paywall)that says tomorrow is now:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/science/flooding-of-coast-caused-by-global-warming-has-already-begun.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=b-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0

My brother just bought some property on the Washington coast - I think they're nuts, but more due to the tsunami danger than climate change.

Just like they say there are no atheists in foxholes, you won't find any climate change deniers fighting the Western bushfires, either.

People and societies have the unfortunate tendency to ignore trends and wait until a crisis occurs before action is taken. It is a form of magical thinking, that somehow they will not be affected. There are examples of this on smaller scales that occur every day, such as people who ride motorcycles without helmets, or young people who take up smoking tobacco. The practice of businesses putting profits first and consequences second seems to be the most common model, rather than an ethical alternative. High performance and large, heavy vehicles continue to be manufactured because people want to buy them. They selfishly put themselves in denial of the climate crisis for their own gratification. It will only be when the severe adverse effects of climate change occur that action will be taken. By then it might be too late, at least to protect people who live on islands and low-lying areas from losing their land. I am sorry to be so pessimistic, and I would love to be delightfully surprised if things should turn out differently.

Mike,

Was your post a reaction to this article in the NYTimes yesterday?:

http://mobile.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/science/flooding-of-coast-caused-by-global-warming-has-already-begun.html?_r=0&referer=

Best Regards,

ACG

Worth adding it's not just about sea level rise: climate change will add to problems such as drought, forest fires etc. Sadly, those who will be worst affected are those least able to deal with it: people in the third world who have the lowest carbon footprint of all.

Investors worried about their wallet and ethics would do well to consider fossil fuel divestment. We have already discovered more carbon fuels than we can use.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/series/keep-it-in-the-ground

The "blithers" will feel it in their hip pocket nerve first. The insurers (they keep an eye on these things) will jack up insurance premiums. They eventually will refuse to insure vulnerable properties.

But doesn't that problem already exist in high risk hurricane areas? It appears that houses have been built in these areas without any consideration of their vulnerability. This could be easily compensated for with stronger materials and designs that risk gusting wind but this would put the price up and that would appear to be a no-no for builders, buyers and housing regulators.

Not sure, Mike; falling real estate prices in properties near the sea will create opportunities for some with smaller resources (can't afford elsewhere) and a greater appetite for risk. You can see it happening here in the UK with flood plains. Too many houses have been built on them, too many devastating 100-year floods have struck, insurance is unavailable, so house prices have dropped, yes, but people who can't otherwise afford to "get on the property ladder" are still buying!

Anybody living in sight of the sea ought to be worrying a little, or a lot. But for the one-percenters who own the prime beach houses in choice locations, it's a no-risk game. Federal disaster insurance will rebuild the houses, and hey, it's probably not their only home. Or even their only vacation home, so the inconvenience is minimal. Harder hit are the Cajuns and other low-country poor who live where high ground is as rare as high incomes. Those are the ones who suffer in Southern Louisiana now, after the TV crews moved on.

Here in the UK, surrounded by sea, it is estimated that we will be facing very severe flooding and coastal erosion by 2050. In fact it has already started. London will not escape either, even with the Thames Barrier. Are we prepared? No of course not. Next to nothing has been done despite increasingly severe floods and erosion already being experienced. Ignorance is bliss - but not for much longer.

The thing with coastal properties and properties in flood prone areas in the UK is that nothing will be done unless the rich live there. Hence London has its Thames Barrier but places such as Skegness will probably be abandoned to the sea. I suspect that this will be the case in the US too.

I just read that 2100 homes on the coast have been rebuilt by federal disaster funds 10 times or more each! Cost to taxpayers is in the $Billions. The question is why they are allowed to rebuild there - seems we don't learn from our mistakes.

Here is the article about the 2100 homes rebuilt 10 times or more aftermflooding: http://e360.yale.edu/digest/thousands_of_us_homes_keep_flooding_and_being_rebuilt_fema_insurance_louisiana/4792/

So where am I going to live Mike...?

I am from the Maldives.

So far, if you take a look around the world...

There is NO evidence for this lefty rubbish.

Still I suppose it's not too late for Trump to interject with some plan that will advance the cause of Trumpery and ManBearPig simultaneously.

Presumably this was prompted by this article in the NY Times?

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/04/science/flooding-of-coast-caused-by-global-warming-has-already-begun.html

I suspect that 10 ft won't be enough, but the Dutch, after decades and indeed centuries of investment in flood prevention, live well below sea level - Schiphol airport is 13 ft below, for example.

We have had that problem for ages, and solved it quite well. Some Americans may wonder why we pay an average of 40% tax in Europe. This is one good reason. We also have a lot less collapsing bridges over here.

http://www.bed-and-breakfast-amsterdam-houseboat.com/Doorsnede-B&B-Houseboat-Amsterdam.png

Unfortunately quite right. Property in the Netherlands will take a dive - literally.

Was this site hacked? It doesn't seem like your normal stuff, and it isn't signed.

Be careful about this. Although you are obviously correct, one characteristic of serious sea-level rise is that it is inherently slow. The big thing that causes it is melting ice sheets (there are only two ice sheets, on Greenland and Antarctica), and although the results of them melting will be seriously catastrophic (tens of metres of sea-level rise), they have enormous thermal inertia and so it will take them a very long time to melt.

I think there may be worries about significant chunks of ice sheets breaking off and ending up as sea-ice, which will cause almost as much sea-level rise as if they had melted, but I don't know the details of this.

I think the places at serious short-term risk from sea-level rise are ones which are both very low, and too poor to build defences (or indefensible). Sadly, those places are not economically important and we therefore don't collectively care about the people who live there (this lack of care is of course indefensible on many grounds, but that's who we are as a species). We might care if the flooding of these areas causes large-scale migration: the current anti-immigration movements in both the UK and US may be early symptoms of this.

However property values are only slighty rational (very slightly), witness the recent subprime insanity in the US and the current insanity in parts of the UK (UK property is probably already crashing). So your prediction may be true anyway. I personally would happily buy property in London if it was cheap enough as I'm confident that sea-level rise, although it will flood central London, will not do so until I am long dead.

I think that, in physical terms (as opposed to economic ones), other effects of global warming will have very significant consequences well before sea-level rise.

(For what it's worth I work in a place that studies climate change, although I'm not a climate scientist.)

PS to previous comment: your tipping-point argument is very good I think.

One answer to the question you pose in the caption of the Rhode Island property photo is that some people apparently do not ever feel uncomfortable about how close the the water they are even after losing their homes.
People have been rebuilding houses in areas already known to be damaged by predictable repeated flooding and storms - from Cape Hatteras and Cape Cod and many other places.
For just one example, see: https://www.bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/health-wellness/2014/03/09/sea-level-rose-government-paid-nine-flood-claims-scituate-home/P9PvgncnRm3pjdQYt8mxuK/story.html

When I was a child (many more years ago than I intend, or can) I recall when only the po' folk lived at the beach, lake or water's edge.
Ah, time.
Nevermore.
Mi dos pesos

[I know what you mean. When my great-grandfather build his big house on an inland lake in Michigan, nobody wanted to live there, and there were Chippewa (Ojibwe) Indians living on the lake shore. When I was a boy in the '60s there were still fishing huts and log cabins on the shore. I think it was in the '80s when the lake got "locked"--all the available land all around the shore had been built on. That's when property values started to go up. They took a big hit in the crash of '08, but by then all the fishing huts were long gone. Most recent new structures are McMansions that wouldn't be out of place in any upscale new housing development . --Mike]

There'll soon be very good business to do in dyke-building?

Or water-front houses will be guaranteed safe based on a temperature increase/year ratio:
"this house won't get flooded with a 2°C increase over the next 50 years, guaranteed!"

I'm skeptical, not about climate change but about these kinds of catastrophic scenarios, which are more political than scientific.

"General statements about the extremes are almost nowhere to be found in the literature but seems to abound in the popular media. It's this popular perception that global warming means all extremes have to increase all the time, even though if anyone thinks about that for ten seconds they realize that's nonsense."
Gavin Schmidt - Head of NASA's Goddard Institute (which is definitely not in the camp of "deniers")

when will sea level rise start to be a real problem

Sadly, for some in the world the answer is now: Five Pacific islands lost to rising seas as climate change hits.

The last housing crash was a good example of a tipping point, largely unforeseen except for a few Wall Street short artists and progressive economists like Dean Baker (who I fortunately read and therefore managed to move our 401k into bonds before the crash).

This slow moving, sometimes fast moving world-wide disaster will not just affect coastal areas, so the damage will be much worse than a housing crash. I expect vast food shortages, massive refugee problems (internal and external), and a general impovershment of just about everyone, to various degrees. I can only hope that we learn to cooperate and help eachother as all this hits the fan.

I'm a bit puzzled. Does sealevel rise imply lake level rise? Keuka Lake's elevation is listed as 715 feet, so I would think your neighbor's trailer is safe from all but erosion.

scott

[Obviously an isolated inland lake is not effected by sealevel rise. I was just making the point about the value of waterfront properties, which translates to oceanfront properties. Those properties are "worth" more only because people want them more, and that investment value is in jeopardy is people stop wanting those properties but decide to avoid them instead.

However the lake has risen by 10 feet in the past, which put that particular house underwater. It's a rare event and has nothing to do with climate change as far as I know. It might not even be possible any more due to improved flood control, but I don't know the details of that. --Mike]

The most frustrating thing about the whole global warming thing is that major media outlets -- I'm looking at you, Wall Street Journal opinion page and Fox News -- treat it as if it's a political question, and all that right-thinking people have to do is vote against it. Or, that it's something like Darwinism, and everybody has a right to an opinion, no matter how stupid it is. Hey: global warming doesn't care about your vote or your opinion. I know that's not democratic, but that's how it is. On the other hand...I think there are technological solutions for many of the more obvious problems (dams, dikes, etc. -- after the famous 1927 flood, the Corps of Engineers built a couple thousand miles of levees along the Mississippi River in fairly short order, and they still stand today. Florida, on the other hand, may have to go...I read someplace years ago that the highest natural spot in Dade County, Florida (Miami) is 12 feet above sea level...

I'm never sure how to respond to those who say "there is no evidence", when the scientific evidence is indeed overwhelming. But I just came across this article in the Washington Post from last year with a very interesting graphic half way down. Well worth a look:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/05/20/this-chart-explains-why-faith-and-science-dont-have-to-be-in-conflict/?utm_term=.8f6c7b625805

This would be a correlation. In terms of validity of evidence, we have:

1. Experimental (ie scientific)
2. Correlation
3. Logic and reasoning
4. Witness testimony

Number 4 is the one that puts innocent men in jail and raises belief over evidence of high validity.

I noticed the slight change in style of the original post but actually I thought it was particular pithy and punchy.
Anthony

Mike, some would say there are no accidents. So perhaps this post was meant to happen.

The reality is that the world is warmer and the shoreline is sinking. It is slow, but relentless.

The warmer temps are creating other changes, including more water in the atmosphere due to more evaporation, leading to more rain & snow and more bad storms including hurricanes and tornadoes.

But the worst is many decades way, so what the hell, let's bury our collective heads in the sand while we still won't drown doing so.

I watched a documentary not long ago (sorry, do not remember where) about the decades-long preparations currently underway in Netherlands. Much of that country is under sea level and they have determined that they will not be able to protect all their land given the increases in sea level that are expected over the next century. So they are in the middle of a huge nation-wide planning project to decide which land gets saved and which will be flooded. So houses and neighbourhoods will be saved, others will be abandoned with compensation. Imagine heading up that committee.

Lake-level rise could be more likely in a warmed world, if something like a "rain bomb" hits. We didn't even have that term until recently. It describes massive localized precipitation far beyond the norm. Like what hit the Colorado canyons with a thousand-year flood several years ago, with five years' worth of rain in five days, flushing hundreds of homes down the canyons.

Warmer air can hold more humidity before reaching saturation, at the dew point. So when rain begins, there's an even bigger amount coming down. That could overwhelm your lake's watershed.

What we can expect now is more extreme, record-breaking events. And the large majority of those broken records have been on the hot side of the charts. We can argue about the details, the simulations and the necessary adaptations, but that much is clear.

Your unscheduled posts aren't all that rare. Over the years I have several* times seen your posts or partial posts in your RSS feed. Usually they eventually become visible on your web site but sometimes they just disappear. Either you are doing something wrong or it's a "feature" of the software.
* maybe many times, I don't keep count and I don't read TOP in my feed reader, it's just there as backup.

When sea level rises by 10 feet the real estate pricing will be the smallest problem for humankind...

I don't deny that climate changes (has been since climate existed), but for politicians/ globalists to confiscate and redistribute wealth, using scare tactics and phony promises, is insidious evil.

This fits in nicely with a UWa professor's recent post on warming impacts by income level:

http://cliffmass.blogspot.com/2016/08/will-low-income-folks-be-hit-harder-by.html

I read something similar to what Scott has posted above:

"The global livestock industry produces more greenhouse gas emissions than all cars, planes, trains and ships combined, ..."

And the article went even further stating the population of cattle is greater than the population of people and the environmental problems that comes with it all. Is anybody paying attention?

I use to think the earth can mend itself, but now I think differently. Because it is not nature mass producing cattle for human consumption, nor is it natural for a parent to choose to feed their children fast-food over nutritious food. They do it according to studies because real food is not as affordable* as the mass produced junk.

This is getting out-of-control and global warming is mother nature's wake up call.


*Please respect all people; not everyone gets to have a decent education or has a family to help guide them to adulthood.

Me wife and I are looking for retirement property in Prince Edward Counry, Ontario. (I can't convince her to move to Burgundy - "PEC" Pinot Noir can be as delectable as Burgundy, though different, of course. So PEC it is.)

I would love to be on shoreline, but it probably isn't in the cards since the Toronto crowd has discovered The County and prices have risen significantly since we've been vacationing there for the last fourteen years.

The risk for this location, however, is heat and drought driven by climate change. The core issue of climate change is unpredictability. So, Brian in Alberta, I wouldn't bet the ranch in Central Alberta.

John Camp:

I once lived southwest of Miami (Redland) and the property had to be built up 11 feet before construction could begin. The home became an island after a bad storm. Today I live in the Florida Panhandle where it boasts the highest point in the state at 345 feet above sea level. They actually refer to the Florida Panhandle as LA (Lower Alabama), and that's alright with me!

Try a google image search on "collaroy beach damage" - you'll see the results of a combination storm/high tide earlier in 2016, with expensive beach houses at risk of collapse, a swimming pool fallen onto the beach, all their gardens washed away. Used to be a desirable place to live. This is the northern beaches of Sydney and shows how catastrophic something like sea level rise could be. And when it does happen, don't expect any help from the politicians - you'll be told it's your fault for living near water.

Sea level rise is slow but its manifestation will be sudden because storm surge will magnify it. We are seeing some little islands become non-viable here in the New Guinea Islands and related areas, and some coastal areas come under intense attack a well. I have also see it to some degree in some of the bayside suburbs of Melbourne (Australia), Elwood is an example. A lot of those suburbs are built on land reclaimed from swamp -- what a good idea (just like Florida, in fact)!

A rise of just a couple of centimeters (or an inch) can mean a rise of two, three or five times that amount in a storm surge when the coastal waters are driven by the wind at high tide. That extra little bit of height takes the water above the usual underwater and shoreline features that normally control the sea (can happen in big lakes too), and next thing you know, a wave a meter or more high is surging over the land. It doesn't get a chance to run out before the next wave hits. And so forth.

Here in the Islands, the (north)east coast of New Ireland was hit by king tides, a tidal anomaly, and big storm surges in 2008 or 2009 (can't remember which) all at the same time. Lovely New Ireland has many beach side villages, mainly of bush materials houses. An old friend of mine (now in his 80s) living in such a house normally about two or three meters above sea level told me how he felt the bed rocking in the middle of the night -- a totally black, tropical night. He thought it must be n earthquake (very common here too) but when he stepped out of bed, he found himself knee deep in water which had surged up the beach, through the village, and had lifted him and his house onto the main road behind the village! Nobody lost their lives that night, but there were a lot of close escapes. When light dawned, it was found that every one of the houses in the beachside part of the village was wrecked or gone, and the whole sandy beach had been washed out to sea, a lot of it dumped on the coral reef, to its detriment as a source of food.

Of the small islands disappearing, you get a picture of what will come. Storm surges rolling right over the islands, but in the interim, the simple rise in the salt water table of the islands' fabric kills off coconut and other food trees and kills off food crops. Younger people are being resettled, but many of the older people simply won't move. They will die with their island for the island, the little land, the reefs, the fish, the coconuts, the storms, the sea, are irretrievably woven into their very souls. These are people who can find their way home to a tiny dot in the vast Pacific paddling or sailing a dugout canoe with no navigational aids. That's the only place they want to call "home".

I weep for them. They have practically nothing material except for their tiny island, and that is going to be taken away by people who have unimaginably more physical goods and keep demanding more.

But mostly, they are having their spirits taken from them by monsters with no sprit.

But Mike all those costal properties and the cities are too big fail and you can bet the uplanders will be paying to bail out those soggy properties.

Add it all up an we easily spent a trillion rebuilding New Orleans (about $300k per resident) with no rational reason for the place to exist in the first place. Do you really think logic and cost/benefit analysis will be allowed to interfere with the politics and opportunity of valuable crisis?

By the way, Mike, great piece. In Australia the water thing is alive and well but it reaches its zenith in Queensland. There, "Absolute Water Frontage" is the go! I have even seen it advertising blocks around a farm dam when the farm was being "developed"! There are lots of "canal estates" in south-east Queensland which always amuse me for two reasons: 1) They aren't going to last, and 2) The canals, along with the Brisbane River (wow! lots of absolute water frontage!) and other big rivers around here are infested with a medium sized shark which has an ability to store salt within its body so it can invade a long way upriver into fresh water. not a big man-killer, but certainly a man-eater (fancy losing a lump out of your leg?)

Cheers, Geoff

Several commentators have suggested that what make property subject to inundation/flooding lose value first is the inability to insure it, rather than the inability to finance it. I'm a little surprised this has not happened yet (or perhaps it has) in South Florida, where "clear sky" flooding is becoming a regular thing in some locations, and porous limestone bedrock makes seawalls ineffective.

I used to live in Norfolk, and can confirm. We had the top two floors of a 3 story place. The landlord lived in the first floor, which started a good 10 feet above street level, only the basement flooded. But flood it did.

Once, we were surrounded by water for sufficiently long that I waded over to a friend's house, a block away and 15 feet higher, to socialize. I felt like Pooh Bear.

Great swathes of Norfolk real estate, as the NYT piece suggests, are very hard to sell at any price right now.

As others have said, it’s not just the location of the house that has to be considered. How far is the local power plant from the ocean? How about the sewer waste treatment plant? And the major roads and railroad tracks?

I’m well over 100 feet above sea level, but downhill from me are the railroad tracks and one of the busiest freeways in California. Both are about 10 feet above sea level, and sometimes less than 100 feet from the bay. The local sewer plant and two major airports in the area are right on the water.

I may stay dry, but my life will not be normal unless somebody builds a dyke around 100 or 150 miles long, around most of the San Francisco Bay. I have not heard of any plans to do so.

First: I agree with Tommy's featured comment.

Second: At the peak of the last ice age about 18,000 years ago, Cleveland, Ohio, Chicago, Illinois, Seattle, Washington and the Finger Lakes were buried under about a mile of snow and ice and sea level was more than 300 feet below today's position. Normal changes in climate and sea level are huge compared to anything resulting from man's release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Third: The inevitable move from carbon-based energy to nuclear power will solve the "problem."

You wrote:

"when will sea level rise start to be a real problem"

It already is one has to look no further than
south Florida, see:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/the-siege-of-miami

I live in costal Orange County, CA. I have a friend who lives on one of the islands in Newport bay. At lunch, the other day, he was telling us about someone who had bought several houses on his island. They are planing to tear them down and build one big house. It seems that not everyone has got the memo.

We are renovating our new house on the Intracoastal waters of Hobe Sound FL. When finished it will exceed the latest federal regulations for homes in both hurricane and flood zones. We have maximum insurance for both flood and wind. We received no subsidies from state or federal agencies. After living 15 years on a cliff over the Pacific in San Clemente CA with an active fault below us, I fully embrace the notion that man is always at the mercy of Mother Nature wherever one lives. We love living on the water here in Hobe Sound, and if the waters rise, we'll live in our boat. Or move to Nebraska? No thanks :)

https://instagram.com/p/BJzF8ErDxwQ/

This New Yorker article from last December about Miami, Florida describes first hand the problem and typical responses:

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/12/21/the-siege-of-miami

Maybe there are no strictly off-topic posts. We bring our outlooks when we shoot. While there's been study of the common and supposedly timeless psychology of tastes in landscape image features, it's also possible to notice that over time - both short and long - the idea of what's beauty in landscape does change.

Before Romanticism domesticated landscapes were the thing, wild landscapes repulsive. Here where I live in a grazing valley of the eastern WV mtns, the 1700s settlers built on what for them were the best locations on the rolling valley floor. Typically those were hundreds of feet above the rivers and major streams. Nor did they seen to care about sweeping views: shelter from wind, ease of access, proximity to springs and type of soil were paramount. You still can find old timers who admire the original sites and shrug at the now popular riverside locations. One told me that if he owned his good friend's farm he'd never step off the place because it was so beautiful. I never quite was convinced by the place myself, but in time I got to understand an aspect of why we looked with different eyes. The old people used to grow corn and hay, graze cows and go fishing along the rivers. The Indians who preceded them were careful to avoid planting the bottoms with the very richest soil because those areas were the ones most likely to be flooded a little too often.

One fall I stayed at a new riverside cabin with its own 2 mile reach. The fish, wildlife and scenery were just what you wanted. The fogs, dampness, high water table and the constant hiss and gurgling of the riffles were not. It still was a good experience over all, but I wouldn't live there even for a another whole season. Although its setting is now widely thought of as iconic, I wouldn't spend a lot of money for it either. The big 1700s/1800s farm house 200' above it? Deal. The old people had it right: live up high, loiter along the river.

Earlier in this year the area got a foot of rain one afternoon. The already full rivers and streams and saturated ground resulted in tragic flooding that killed 20-30 people in that rural county alone. Property and infrastructure damage has the place set back.

Over the past 50 years the big floods have become more and more frequent. The promise seems to be that others of the scale of this last one are possible. The effect on the real estate market is still uncertain. But the older residences and weekend camps got devastated, many simply washed away. The newer ones on high piers are still standing but many are damaged.

What I've started doing is looking at those old farm house sites. Attention drawn by chance circumstance sometimes brings me to seeing beauty that was always there. And I get more and more convinced that an aesthetic attaches to a life experience.

[I enjoyed reading that. Thanks, Mark. --Mike]

I am in North Dakota and have friends who visit their vacation home at Devil's Lake - but to do so they have to don scuba gear. It is underwater.
Farm homes, Barns and outbuildings were flooded and covered completely or partly. Photographing a place a couple years ago while the owner was packing his belongings in a truck to move out due to rising water, we watched fisherman in boats. "Three years ago that was where my horses were grazing" was his comment.

The water will eventually go down but that won't help him much. He'll own the land but building another big hip roof barn won't be affordable. The 100 year old farmhouse is gone and replacing it won't be the same.

It isn't just the coastal areas that are getting hit. Corn is raised in our area now while a few decades few would even try it. A longer growing season coupled with faster ripening varieties both make it viable most years.

Hope no one starts planting palm trees though, the place just wouldn't be the same.

You're welcome, Mike. Thank you for being broad minded about topics. That thing about what we choose for subjects, what they mean to us and how we see and render them...Well. It's gotten to me. The place where I live is famous for harboring remnants of very old music, language, social attitudes and genealogies. I suspect that the hoard might include attitudes about the landscape and maybe even a distinct aesthetic. So I've been chatting up people who live closest to the land. This fall an old woodsman and I will take a walk in a woods that he thinks is exceptionally beautiful. Can't wait.

I live in Delaware. Our state scientists estimate up to 10 percent of our land area would be inundated at the median predicted sea level rise in 50 or 100 years.

I'm concerned about staying here, even though my house is "safe". What happens to all the taxpayers when the richest ones want state supported sea walls or other protection for their valuable properties? All the rest of us will pay for it...

Even moving inland to say.. Kentucky, won't let me escape the Federal contribution to all the sea walls for the entire coastline from Texas, around the Gulf of Mexico, all of Florida up to Maine... Then California up to Alaska and Hawaii..

My Dad, who was born in 1910, used to say, "We will live on the top of the hill. Let others live in the valley."

He was a horticulturist and plant scientist, and was in tune with the seasons and 'zones' for various plants, etc. I'd like to think I've inherited his love for plants, but it seems the best I can do is keep the lawn mowed, and plant a few annuals each year in the patio planters.

We never had wet basements or crawl spaces growing up in Michigan, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and I followed his advice when we bought the Michigan house we have been in since 1986. Aside from a grandfathered drainage problem created by my neighbors (solved by the original home owner by placing storm drains in the back yard), we have stayed essentially high and dry, while others around us at lower elevations have had various problems.

I had another reason for a locally high elevation property. As a ham radio operator, I appreciate having a relatively high location from which to cast my signals into the ionosphere. We are within 70 feet of the highest elevation in the county, which is about 5 miles SW of me at the end of the Ft. Wayne Moraine (glacial gravel deposit).

"Climate is not only chaotic, but not all of the factors that determine future climate are known."

This is *precisely* the sort of questionable claim that should not be accepted without evidence.

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