Deep Adaptation: Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead

I re-read World War Z over the weekend, which felt more like a soothing fairy tale about people doing extraordinary things to combat a visible menace that couldn’t be denied or ignored.  So addressable! Such a functional response!

Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead

I’m not going to discuss these two sections at length. I do have more to say about later sections.

On this one page, Prof. Bendell wrote:

IPCC … has a track record of significantly underestimating the pace of change

On some other page, he writes:

[R]eported impacts today are at the very worst end of predictions being made in the early 1990’s.

And on yet a different page that comes later, he writes:

The politically permissible scientific consensus is that we need to beneath 2 decrees warming. … That figure was agreed by governments that were dealing with … pressures from  vested interests, particularly corporations.

All the while detailing why the predictions we do have likely underestimate the danger.

The thing that strikes me is how the seriousness of climate change, already underestimated, then gets diluted down the chain of governmental layers. Although California’s 4th Climate Change Assessment is willing to predict large sea-level rise, the most the Coastal Commission requires is that local governments “consider” managed retreat from the coast.  The local governments “consider” managed retreat by promptly dismissing it, and go back to planning* for groins and beach replenishment.

For SGMA, DWR offers climate change guidance (presumably backed by the models with the limitations that Bendell describers). The GSA’s will choose a politically expedient middle ground which may or may not survive review by board members who do not value climate change science.

Although the models aren’t dire enough, and our emissions are outpacing the models, I also see dilution as each level of government walks back a little more from what would be required to face climate change.

*I keep thinking.  The barrier to public discussion of coastal managed retreat is that homeowners say that public conversation about managed retreat destroys the illusion that the coastal properties still have high market values.

Imperato, like many homeowners in Del Mar, was happy that the city said no to managed retreat, but he’s still frustrated that it was considered in the first place. He believes damage to property values has already been done and says he has told a real estate agent to “pocket list” his house.

“Pocket listing is you want to sell your house, but you don’t want to put a sign up with everyone else because then it’s a race to the bottom,” he says.

That’s a super shitty attitude!  He’s hoping to pass that huge financial loss off to an ignorant buyer, narrowly escaping it himself, even though he has enjoyed the benefits of the beach setting that won’t even be available in a couple more decades.  Because the perspective captured in these articles is so clearly selfish, I think the solution is very straightforward.  We should immediately destroy any illusion that those houses have much future value, perhaps by putting up billboards in all coastal towns showing what sea level rise will do.

Another nice thing about immediately destroying the illusion of future value in these houses is that if the cities are indeed forced to pay market value for them, it should not be the artificially market value created by pretending that sea level rise will be manageable.



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4 responses to “Deep Adaptation: Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead

  1. Mike Antos

    Once you’re ready, try New York 2140 by Mim Stanley Robinson, as a salve.

  2. A.F. Zuur

    Dear OPTR. As a natove Californian who works with wastewater permitting, is old anough to remember actual orchards in Santa Clara County in what is now Silicon Valley, driving through the Central Valley before the air quality plummeted, getting a campsite in Yosemite without booking years ok months in advance, and being able to drink out of streams in the Sierras, can’t do that now without getting giardia, I appreciate reading your blogg. I totally agree with your assessment of government and corporate response to climate change. I live and work in a country considered one of the more progressive in the world wrt the environment and climate change policies, along with socioeconomic policies such as maternity paternuty leave etc. And guess what, the reality is, economic interests almost always Trump environmentalnissues and climate change. My conclusion: we are screwed. batten down the hatches. I will continue to try and do my small part to make the world, and those water bodies I have authority over, less polluted and a better place, and to what I can as a parent to prepare my child for a very uncertain future.

  3. Given the litigiousness of the Del Martians and similar coastal denizens, I for one don’t want to finance a bill board where I can be sued for destroying someone’s prize scam. We should certainly talk about it–widely–but it will take someone with a stronger backbone than mine to put up that billboard. On the other hand, decorating the Cardiff Kook ( just up the coast is an honored tradition, so if you can figure out how to decorate him for sea level rise, go right ahead. That’s legit if you don’t get caught.

    If you want to do some good right now, you can push on the San Diego City Council to put the “wildest” De Anza Cove Revitalization Plan in the EIR. Wildest (along with “wild” and “wilder”) was created by SD Audubon to try to get some salt marsh restoration in Mission Bay. The selling point for the city is that they’re on the hook for all the sea level rise destroying the buildings they want to build in De Anza Cove, and putting as much salt marsh between the buildings and the water as possible seems to make good business sense to everyone except the mayor (Kevin Faulconer and perhaps the local councilwoman (Jennifer Campbell Feel free to tell them that they’re walking away from a win-win by building too close to the water.

    • onthepublicrecord

      Seems like a good fit for the Center for Biological Diversity. They like lawsuits.