Row, Row, Row Your Boat–And Raise That Airport…

I try to read pretty broadly–both to inform myself and to come up with fodder for this blog. But I’ll admit that my reading materials of choice ordinarily would be unlikely to include Engineering News Record, which bills itself as “The Construction Resource.”

However, my husband, a retired architect, subscribes and reads it religiously, and I have to admit the publication quite often has fascinating information that you just don’t see elsewhere. Case in point: the August 7/14 issue’s special report on rising sea levels and what a sampling of threatened communities are doing about them.

I learned a lot.

  • Tangier Island, Virginia, has lost more than 66% of its land mass since 1850, and is eroding by some 25 additional feet each year.  Its Mayor wants to build a seawall, but the Army Corp of Engineers says the island will have to be abandoned sometime within the next 50 years.
  • In Cape Cod, the shrinking of the salt marsh is being met with construction of $4.8 million dollar bridge intended to restore natural tidal flow and–hopefully–sustain the wetlands. The article says the bridge is an example of a number of small, but high-impact projects that are their “best hope for fighting climate change.”
  • Boston is projected to experience between 2 and 6 feet of sea-level rise by 2200, and among other projects is building and reinforcing seawalls.
  • In New York City, Superstorm Sandy lent urgency to a “Big U” planned flood-protection system and an East Side Coastal Resiliency Project.
  • Atlantic City is building a 1,740 foot long seawall.
  • The Hampton Roads region of Norfolk, Virginia–facing one of the “worst combinations of erosion, subsidence and sea level rise in the nation”–explored the building of seawalls and sea gates, and concluded such measures would be too costly; according to the article, they are “looking for ways to live with increasing flooding.”

The article also reports on measures being studied or taken in Charleston,  Hattaras Island, Dare County, N.C., Houston, Miami Beach (which faces a sea level rise of 1.4 feet by 2040), Sacramento, Seattle and Louisiana (where measures to keep the state’s coastlines from falling apart have thus far been inadequate.)

Perhaps the most challenging situations are found at twelve of the nation’s airports. San Francisco is raising levees, and Miami International (facing 2 feet of sea level rise by 2060) is currently elevating its baggage handling area. But as one engineer notes, “You can’t just raise one runway–you have to raise the entire airport.”

I know you will be shocked–shocked–to learn that Trump’s proposed budget eliminates several of the climate-resilience programs that are helping these and other coastal communities with the enormous costs involved in these efforts.

Trump and Scott Pruitt–who is systematically dismantling the EPA–are both proponents of continued and even increased use of the fossil fuels that accelerate the pace of climate change. They dismiss–or choose to ignore– the scientific consensus. Trump reportedly told the mayor of a town located on an island that is sinking into the ocean “not to worry.” See, if we don’t worry about it, everything will be hunky-dory…

Just last week, Trump dissolved the science panel advising the EPA on climate change and rising sea levels. 

Too bad we can’t send Trump, Pruitt and other “alternate facts” assholes to an alternate universe where reality doesn’t bite.


  1. The only consolation to this that I can see is that the very heartland of Trumpistan (the Mississippi Valley) will be gone and the Gulf will be around 80 to 100 miles wide and the northern shore somewhere around Memphis. Those folks will have to leave there, but as they pretend to just be Americans facing another disaster, I’m thinking most others will see them as immigrants — and illegal ones at that!
    Change does have its rewards.

  2. 1900 pages of climate change removed from the EPAs web site, changes that can be seen,ignored. trumps ideas,implemented. pruit, mmmmm, seems its all,for wall streets need again. can you see how this works. for decades the right side of the isle,intent on pushing federal money,onto the state and local level. this is a long time coming. now we see deceit pushing the agenda. take a better look at the overall need to remember,and not forget. though we walk through a mine field here, we have the right to change this. theres many who will not allow this change to be buried,thanks….. when the demos support this agenda to ignore what will be the biggest failure in the history of mankind,to support money,over the planet.when our children ask why this wasnt addressed,what will be the answer? there are some regs that are too far out there,and that has made a bigger mess of the talk,we really need focus here..when you have public leaders siding with money,we have really failed the people,as we,are the voters. I believe the next election after this change will get more people into the fold of knowlege, beyond what they were holding as issues before. dont be swayed by the media,do the search, make the meetings,and get some mentoring in,and talk to your children. its for a challenge beyond what has ever been in this nations history. im sure were all ready, and dont loose the stride….. dump trump….

  3. Trump reportedly had to deal with rising sea levels at one of his golf courses in the U.K. He knows it’s real, but he’s 71 years old. Not his problem. Let the kids live on a higher floor in Trump Tower.

  4. We have been reading (and ignoring) vital facts about rising sea levels for decades; they are currently rising faster and higher and in more areas due to melting ice caps. Trump’s determination to rid this country of the EPA and all protections from Global Warming to ATTEMPT to slow this problem must also effect landlocked areas throughout this country where flooding after heavy rains is a regular seasonal, destructive and costly problem. Does Trump’s proposed budget also eliminate needed infrastructure designed to protect flood-prone areas?

    A few years ago Indianapolis other areas of this state, and across the country, faced the deadly destructive problem of heavily flooded areas NOT in flood zones requiring flood insurance for home and business owners. One friend had her home deeply flooded and her entire landscaped property washed away; due to not living in a flood plain area they had to apply for the offered low-interest government loans but…due to the weeks of waiting for the government inspection, their entire home (an all homes in many areas) was infected with mold. Due to disastrous and costly repair/replacement conditions; they didn’t qualify for the low-interest loans and all are probably still in debt.

    This is but one of many EPA problems being overlooked – or ignored – by Trump’s hair-brained scheme to save tax dollars to invest in his hoped for war, including hiring Betsy DeVos’ brother Eric Prince to reactivate his Blackwater Troops to privatize his war. They don’t need no stinkin’ scientific consensus, creationism will solve the problems of rising sea levels and inland floods; our school children will be educated on how to build arks.

  5. Here in Central Indiana we continue to contribute to potential flooding by the ongoing and never ending development of more and more land. The super city that has become Indianapolis, Hendricks County, Hamilton County and Johnson County has paved over or built upon vasts acres that now shed rain water, not absorb that water. Perhaps worse of all is that that same land was once the most productive farm land in the country… now gone forever. All of that run-off water has to go somewhere, and as rain storms become more severe, it is flooding areas once thought safe.

    It isn’t just the coastal properties that are under threat, across the nation we have managed to “build” the perfect floodplain for all.

  6. The ENR article points out that the municipalities and states are actually on the front line of managing climate change, leaving the federal “agencies” free to peddle their bullshit. The city engineers are forced to deal with the new weather patterns that are emerging from climate change – more drought AND more intense storms. The storm sewers are traditionally designed to carry the 10 year storm, which is now more like the 50 year storm. This overwhelms the system and results in flooding. The cost of redesign and reconstruction will be yuge, but in order to support the ideology, EPA will be required to reduce grants and loans for such projects so conditions will continue to deteriorate. In only 3 1/2 years Trump and Pruitt will be gone and it will be someone else’s problem.

  7. I’m only hoping I live long enough to see Mar-A-Lago swallowed up by the Atlantic Ocean.

  8. Theresa; you are so right in your observations. When my son and/or daughter-in-law and I drive the winding stretch of South Franklin Road from Washington Street we are always wondering how long we will be seeing the beautiful fields, wooded areas, corn and soybean fields before it is “developed” by destroying the beauty and productivity of that area. Each time I keep a watchful eye out for the orange “Public Hearing” signs; dreading the thought of the appearance of them. The need for natural cleansing of our atmosphere is not considered by developers; only their profits.

    Having lived on the Gulf Coast of Florida for 7 years; I can picture the losses in those areas due to rising sea levels and saw actual damage from the “surges” caused by hurricanes and tropical storms. Years ago, my cousins took my husband and I driving the west coast of California south of Los Angeles where the roads were repeatedly being rebuilt, moving further and further inland. The constant rupturing of underground gas lines finally resulted in rebuilding them above ground, much easier to repair and replace. That problem was primarily due to earthquake damage and destruction and mudslides from heavy rains on shaky ground areas, but the results are the same.

  9. Unsure if my post has anything to do with climate change; however, it does have to do with humankind’s refusal to acknowledge that Mother Nature always has the final say. There are no sea walls, no jetties, no politicians that can protect us from Mother Nature.

    After 27 years of living in the Tidewater / Atlantic Coastal area of Virginia and North Carolina where my late husband, a professional member of the AICP (American Institute of City Planners), was the Director of the Operations Division for the City of Virginia Beach Planning Department and later served as the Interim City Engineer, I was privy to the long-time refusal (when I say long-time, I’m talking about perhaps 100 or more yrs) to acknowledge that no structural development should occur beyond the primary dune line. For every picture we see of a home or business that’s been destroyed during a Nor’easter or a hurricane, you can wager the structure was built beyond the primary dune line.

  10. Well, maybe there is a silver lining to the rising sea problem: like I always wanted to own a seaside home but could never hope to afford one; but maybe if I can’t move to a seaside home, the sea will come to the home I do own.

  11. Larry, let’s consider another way of looking at this situation — is the sea rising or is the beach receding?

  12. Since He-Who-I-Cannot-Name is so fond of being away from his Washington office, might I suggest moving his office (and Secretary Pruitt’s and other “alt-fact” proponents) to Tangiers Island, Norfolk, VA, or Charleston, SC.

  13. @Carrie, currently living in Indiana, I can think of far worse places to be relegated than Tangiers Island, Norfolk, or Charleston.

  14. It will be interesting to see when – not if – the Trump Organization decides to sell Mar-a-Lago. The middle managers have probably already brought up the imminent possibility of it becoming Mar-a-front-door, but the upper reaches no doubt will delay sale as long as possible to save face.

  15. I tell my grandchildren to buy land in the Colorado Rockies while it’s cheap. When the water comes, they can sell off lots and make a bundle and additionally, they can fish in Lake Kansas. As the fraud in The Music Man intoned: We got trouble, folks; right here in River City.

  16. Gerald, I hear you, and maybe you’re a day late and several hundred thousand dollars short of buying cheap land in the Colorado Rockies. I’ve often scratched my head in wonder when considering retirees who have 2nd homes, one in the North and one in Florida, or who at least split their year between living somewhere in the North and then wintering in Florida. By this point in time, Florida must be covered in asphalt parking lots for all the 2nd home communities. That condition cannot be healthy for the environment.

  17. BSH – FYI Florida is now third in population in the country, having surpassed New York several months ago. I winter in Naples and summer on a forty acre farm north of Grand Rapids, Michigan. You are correct in your guess that Florida is covered with asphalt, but it’s a big state and there are still relatively undeveloped tracts of land there. In the 2020 decennial count (available for gerrymandering) Florida will have more congresspeople than any state other than California and Texas, which suggests that we should be as interested in state as we are in national politics.

  18. Gerald, you’re a very fortunate man to spend your summers on a farm in Michigan and then spend your winters in Naples, Florida. I have enough trouble taking care of one house in Indiana, and I’m pretty sure a 2nd home, or a winter home, would stretch me beyond my limits.

  19. Seriously, you all need to go see the Inconvenient Sequel by Al Gore. It’s talks about these issues and even has a section about a GOP mayor thanking Al for all of his work.

    #45 will ignore this problem (unless it costs him money like his golf course in Ireland) and give not one wit about it. He only cares about rallies, racism and war at this point.

    No I am not going to counter protest the Phoenix Rally this evening. It seems to be a good day for a riot from the sound of it. It’s still 100 degrees there everyday and it’s too damn hot for me yet. But they are having a counter rally in Tucson at 5:30 that I might attend but then again, it really is too hot for me (which is about 5 degrees cooler). I didn’t watch the speech last night but did get quite angry at Paul Ryan’s townhall show. I couldn’t believe how much he fudged his answers, when he actually answered one and how many talking points he puked out. “Answer the freaking question” is all that was heard in my tv room.

  20. AgingLGrl; I watched as much of Trump’s speech as I could stand. A verbiage of empty sentences strung together and spoken with Trump’s usual rally bravado. I saw no answers forthcoming so switched to “Everybody Loves Raymond” where things made sense…nonsense, but sense.

  21. So Trump, et al..are all “assholes” ?
    So much for lamenting the death of civilized discourse, eh?

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