I read today with great consternation a blog by Eric Zuesse, who writes convincingly that sea levels will rise 7.5 feet for every degree of global warming that humans cause. Within 2,000 years, my beloved hometown of New York City will be significantly submerged, and virtually uninhabitable. Now, I don't know what this will mean for the world's financial markets, the museums, Broadway, Chinatown, the U.N., or Mayor Bloomberg's terrific new rent-a-bike program. But I do know what it means to me. The end of the only lucky real estate deal I ever made.
Get anyone in New York drunk enough, and eventually they will tell you about a building they could have bought, or a loft they could have had for a song, or an apartment they gave up just before it went co-op and everyone made a fortune. Here, I was the outlier. Back in the mid 1990s, when real estate prices were depressed, I was renting a place in the West Village. My landlord, who had a taste for fois gras and other things delicious, fell into a financial situation where he had to sell the place. And, since I was living in it, I got to buy it.
It's really beautiful -- just a few blocks from the Hudson River, great light, roomy -- I could never afford to buy it now. The neighborhood kept getting better and better -- if you consider things like pricey private schools and $4.00 cupcakes a sign that your life is improving. For years, I lived in my home, telling every person who came inside the story of how I came to live there, and agreeing that I was indeed blessed.
When Hurricane Sandy grew closer, many parts of Manhattan were part of a mandatory evacuation zone. And so, for the first time since high school, I had to try and read a topographical map. My house was one block away from mandatory evacuation. Not quite the red zone, but right on the line. I did not have the terrible fortune visited upon me that so many of my fellow New Yorkers did. But I did think: I'm so close. Could global warming put my house under water some day?
Well, now I know. Yes it can, and yes it will.
My dad once told me that my grandmother once told him that he had to work extra hard, because our family didn't have any luck. Boy, was she right about that. And not only us: families along the East Coast from Boston to Miami, through the coasts of Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas. Other states, other countries, too. Global warming is bad luck for everybody. There is still time to act, to get involved, to try and delay the inevitable.
Or, shop for a beach home in Pennsylvania. I hear it's still a good time to buy.