But your grand children will. Yes indeed, they will live to see the utter collapse of North Carolina's current coastline and barrier islands. Sooner than you think.
Despite the happy talk of anti-science deniers, it's clear that today's rising sea levels are real, no matter what the cause. It's only a matter of decades before millions of water front structures all around the world lose their footings and yield to the awesome power of the oceans. The resulting environmental disaster will be horrific. Imagine condos, mobile homes, gas stations, shanty towns, oil refineries, port facilities, chemical plants, sewage systems, military bases, and worse, all standing in three feet of toxic water, crumbling into chaos with every rising wave. Flooded streets? We've only just begun.
- A blue ribbon panel of scientists from Miami, the U.S. city considered most vulnerable to sea level rise (in terms of property damage), predict that the sea will rise a minimum of 3 to 5 feet by 2100.
- A similar panel of scientists in Rhode Island predicts a minimal 3 to 5 foot rise for that state.
- A Washington State report assumes a sea level rise along the shores of Puget Sound of a bit more than 4 feet.
- A recent report to the state of California assumes a 4 foot rise along the California coast.
- The Dutch, who take sea level rise more seriously than anyone, assume for the purposes of design of dikes and storm gates that sea level will rise 2.5 feet by 2050.
- On a global scale, we know that sea level rise is causing natural barrier islands not artificially stabilized by coastal engineering to narrow. The Frisian Islands of Germany, for example, are currently experiencing erosion on both sides of the island (as are our Outer Banks).
- So what does sea level rise mean for North Carolina? A 3-foot sea level rise means the end of development as we know it on the 20 or so barrier islands that make up the 350 mile-long North Carolina coast.
If you already own beachfront property, enjoy it while it lasts. If you are thinking of buying, don't. And if you are one of the dying breed of Realtors on the coast, get an honest job. Especially if you live in Wilmington.
The Rising Sea, by Orin Pilkey, appears to be the definitive work on this unfolding disaster.
The image above is from after a hurricane. If you want to explore other images, try the Google machine.