With Cape May County being an ocean-fronting county, as you might expect, there has been a lot of discussion around the Herald lately about the rising ocean. Bill Barlow’s article, in the Feb. 19 Herald, spoke to some of the issues; look for more to follow. Fortunately, we’re not talking about a tsunami sending us to the hills as fast as our feet can take us.
Instead, we are looking at a gradual change, which gives us time to understand it and make necessary accommodations. Those accommodations include how we each personally think through things, and how we collectively consider related matters, including our infrastructure. Our infrastructural considerations include such things as how high to raise our roads, bridges, sewage treatment facilities, etc.
One might ask, is it even prudent to invest in a shore property? The answer to that hinges on how big of a problem we will face. If all of the polar ice were to melt, raising the global sea level 175 to 200 feet, the sensible answer might be, No. Fortunately, that is not happening.
According to a New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Dec. 12, 2019, release, referencing a Rutgers University Science and Technical Advisory Panel (STAP) assessment, “The likely sea-level rise under a high greenhouse gas emissions scenario” is 2.3 to 6.3 feet by 2100. If “current policy objectives around the globe are successfully implemented,” the projected rise falls to between 2 and 5.1 feet.
The STAP report also stated that, “Over the last 40 years, sea-level rose an average of 0.2 inch per year along the state’s coast, compared to a global average of 0.1 inch per year…The sea-level from 1911 at Atlantic City has risen 17.6 inches, compared to 7.6 inches globally… New Jersey is particularly susceptible to the impacts of rising oceans due to its long coastline, the long-term sinking of land through subsidence, its latitudinal position to the bulging of oceans caused by the earth’s rotation, ocean circulation patterns, and other factors.”
Can we successfully deal with the projected change without breaking the bank? My solace lies in the fact that much of the Netherlands lies significantly lower than Cape May County, and they have already dealt, very successfully, over many years, with that reality. The Dutch love the Netherlands, and we love our seaside homes. Thus, we don’t just sit here and wait to see what happens; instead, we plan and take action.
With a likely rise of between two and six feet over the next 80 years, we will certainly deal with this challenge. Because sea rise is a global issue, there are many great minds bringing their thinking to bear on the multiplicity of concerns related to it. However, it is incumbent upon us to follow this matter very closely, plan and respond accordingly.