Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 10, 2016

How the Federal Reserve helped fight climate change.

Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 9, 2016

Polar Vortex Returns.



William Sargent’s latest book, Plum Island; 2016, is available in local bookstores and at




Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 8, 2016


Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 7, 2016

Coastal Housing Bubble.



Chapter 19

The Sound of a Bubble Bursting

November 24, 2016


On November 24th the New York Times ran a cover story that quoted South Florida Mayor Phillip Stoddard as saying, “Coastal mortgages are growing into as big a bubble as the housing market of 2007. But this time there will be no rebound because the water wont recede and properties will eventually lose their value.”


And I thought it would be a major storm that would wake everyone up, not the sound of a bubble bursting. Silly me, I forgot that most people don’t think of storms all the time. They use what Alan Greenspan called irrational exuberance to make economic decisions.


The article included graphics that showed county- by-county that housing sales had declined by 4 percent in the last five years on the East Coast, while sales of inland homes had risen seven percent. He quoted a Miami Beach resident who planned to move inland in anticipation of higher king tides and wrote that people’s concerns had taken on a new urgency since the election of Donald Trump. In 2012 Trump had famously said, “Global warming is just a concept created by the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”


Frankly I think the writer was wrong to politicize his argument and conflate king tides with sea level rise because we know that king tides will actually be declining during the four or eight years that Trump will be in office.


But his economic analysis was spot on. Potential homebuyers are becoming leery of being tied into having to pay thousands of dollars for federal flood insurance and tens of thousands of dollars to rebuild collapsed seawalls and raise their homes on pilings.


But will the coastal housing bubble burst or deflate mysteriously like the Patriots’ footballs during the half? Plum Island supports the deflationary model.


After a March storm destroyed eight houses and made twenty uninhabitable on Plum Island in 2013, the cost of the lots plummeted. But two years later the price of the empty lots had risen back to about what they had been before the storm.


A few sharp developers and homebuyers bought the lots right after the storm when their prices were still rock bottom. Then a game of hot potato began.


Developers rushed to build homes and sell them before the next major storm. Banks earned commissions on these risky mortgages then sold them as bundled securities to unsuspecting pension funds, insurers or other buyers. The strategy of the game was to not be left holding the bag.


Efforts to ensure that real estate agents disclose the erosional history of oceanfront homes have run into stiff opposition. One law in Virginia ended up explicitly stating that the seller of a house was not obligated to disclose whether the house was in a high risk FEMA zone. The head of the Virginia Association of Realtors said they were “immensely satisfied” with the law—no doubt!


Measures to require that investors be told what portion of their bundled mortgages included houses in areas at risk from storms, canyon fires, earthquakes, tsunamis and tornadoes have fared equally well.


Most interestingly Robert Meyer, the co-director of the Risk management and Design Processes Center at the Wharton School of Economics has found that people living in places like Miami would be willing to pay billions of dollars in extra taxes in order to pay for infrastructure so they could continue living on that unpredictable coast.


But that is another economic analysis also based on irrational exuberance. A geological analysis would say that there are no infrastructural changes that will allow people to continue living on barrier beaches for the next 30 to 50 years.




William Sargent’s latest book, Plum Island; 2016, is available in local bookstores and at






Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 6, 2016

Turks Dolphin Report

Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 5, 2016

Hawaii expecting a foot of snow.

Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 4, 2016

Turks and Caicos dolphin video.

Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 3, 2016

Yurks and Caicos dolphin report.

Hi All,
This is what I wait for! This is the best!!!
It’s our last day before heading home for a few weeks. We head out of Leeward searching Grace Bay in front of all the resorts then head all the way up past Pine Cay. I’m hoping to find dolphins out by the reef where we have been finding them before. The sun is glistening on the water and although the wind is making it cold the spectacular color of the sky and water are amazing. I’m thinking how lucky we are to be here away from the gloomy grey weather at home. I’m looking to warm up so we head into the channel between Dellis Cay and Fort George Cay. After a brief lunch sitting in the sun we start heading out the channel. I see a dolphin coming our way. It acts like JoJo but I don’t think it’s him. I get in and find Whizzer and Bo. Bo was the one who seemed to be showing herself as if to say, “here I am”. They are behaving very differently than usual. Lots of circling, Bo coming right by me, not the usual slow traveling with Whizzer darting all over. Bo seems to be reprimanding Whizzer. I captured it on the video at the very end.

They start moving off very slowly toward Pine Cay. The water is shallow and Whizzer and I have some fun circling and looking at things on the ocean floor. I look up to see where John and Spy Hop are. He points behind me and suddenly two really big dolphins coming rocketing by! After much swirling around and whistling I recognize Lemon Lips who I haven’t seen since last December! He is accompanied by another big dolphin that I think might be B. B. Tip, who is Raggedy Ann’s son. Lemon Lips starts swimming really fast toward the surface. I look up just in time to see him fly out of the water! Luckily the camera hasn’t run out of battery yet so you can see it in the video. They all seem not only glad to see each other but glad to see ME. Lemon Lips and I play our old game of whirl around in circles. He lets me swim right beside him just like JoJo. He is such a good brother to Whizzer who was seriously horney! Dolphins are very sexual and don’t have any of the rules of conduct the way we humans do. So if it feels good just do it!
I had been swimming with them for a long time (the better part of 3 hours!) and am getting cold and tired. I climb back on our boat. I have now gone through one scooter and one camera! All four dolphins come to the back of the boating wait. They want me back in! They are spy hoping and swimming so close. I take a short break then slip in again with another scooter and camera. This is an invitation I can’t refuse. The five of us continue down Pine Cay. Lemon Lips spots a ray in the sand and they all go down to investigate. What an unbelievable honor to accompany these dolphins as they make their way down the coast. I wore out three scooters and two cameras while having a great time. Another boat came by while I was resting. They put swimmers in the water and the dolphins left. I’m thrilled I got three glorious hours that I will never forget.
Jay Sargent author of
JoJo and Me

Posted by: coastlinesproject | December 1, 2016

Nobel prize winners urge Trump to respect scientific integrity.



Read more in William Sargent’s new book, Plum Island; 4,000

Years on a Barrier Beach is available in local bookstores, and through


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