Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Barrier Islands, Snowbirds, and the Future

Barrier Islands, snowbirds, and the future

I’ve had the fortune to escape the endless winter of Buffalo and head south to Perdido Key, a barrier island on the Gulf Coast.  70% of this key is still natural and escaped the rows of high rises crammed on the beach which is a such a part of Florida.  This key has the natural beauty of sugar white sand, dunes, and several parks which preserve what one sign described as the true Florida.   Despite the horrific gulf spill, dolphins still swim by, herons fish, and pelicans fly overhead.

The question is for how long.  One of the barrier islands thins to the width of a road which most certainly gets covered with water in storms.  The last hurricane destroyed the pretty wooden houses on the beach and left the uglier more solid cement constructions.  With ocean levels on the rise and coastal properties in danger how long will these places last?  Through my lifetime?  I always imagined that global warming would take place in its fiercest form long after my lifetime but I was wrong.  I never would have imagined New York flooded by Sandy.  Nor would I have thought the polar vortex would drain all my energies throughout this long grueling winter. 

And that brings me to another question.  Any place you go on the coast is peopled by older snowbirds from Canada and northern states.  They are lucky enough to afford to spend the winter away from the freezing cold.  How many people of my generation will be able to retire?  I don’t see it as a possibility at all especially living in the US.  If I had stayed in Spain it might have been more likely.  Here will I end up as a cashier at a dollar store in an attempt to supplement whatever meager retirement I get? 

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