Home > Uncategorized > Back Bay Flooding – In The Face of Climate Change – Highlights Imperative of Strategic Retreat

Back Bay Flooding – In The Face of Climate Change – Highlights Imperative of Strategic Retreat

Soft headed thinking on “soft solutions” won’t cut the mustard

Jon Hurdle at NJ Spotlight has the first “post Jonas” story that gets it right on climate, sea level rise and back bay flooding, and responds to many of the criticism we’ve made about misleading press coverage. Read the whole story:

Mr. Hurdle correctly diagnoses the problem, but doesn’t quite get the criticism of the Christie DEP policy side of the story or grasp the implications for the future of the barrier islands.

And he goes far too easy on the DEP, uncritically accepting DEP’s excuses and counter-productive solutions and slogans and sham “resilience projects like this in Stone Harbor, where DEP is dredging for the bating industry and then dumping contaminated sediments in wetlands:


We need to start talking about and planning for strategic retreat: ways to abandon existing development and move to inland higher elevations.

Sea level rise will permanently inundate current development. So, we either make the retreat rational and plan for it, or conditions will force a chaotic retreat.

The current Christie Post Sandy program is driven by an imperative to “put it all back” where it was and protect it with engineered dunes and beach replenishment.

The Christie “Rebuild Madness” policy is exacerbated and enabled by NJ’s “right -to rebuild” laws.

That approach is seriously flawed and ineffective (for both ocean side and back bay risks). It fails to address the reality of climate change, sea level rise, and more severe coastal storms. And it is not cost effective or economically sustainable.

Besides, what good is living in an elevated house on pilings when there is no electric power, roads are flooded, no food available, no stores open, schools closed, and no water or sewer? To paraphrase Shillary, it takes a village.

Strategic retreat is the only answer.

And the Christie “rebuild now!” driven DEP is a big part of the problem – the story failed to note that DEP is weakening coastal and flood protection regulations, trigging a rare legislative veto initiative.

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