Waterfront property? Wait for it … wait for it ….

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In this screen grab from the National Geographic, Belize would be a small lump of land and San Francisco would be the Venice of the West should all the Earth's ice melt. Though it would take 5,000 years for that to happen, climate change and rising sea levels are already having an impact on coastal lands.
In this screen grab from the National Geographic, Belize would be a small lump of land and San Francisco would be the Venice of the West should all the Earth’s ice melt. Though it would take 5,000 years for that to happen, climate change and rising sea levels are already having an impact on coastal lands.

As Rose and I ponder the pros and cons of living inland or on the coast of  Belize, a new thought enters my mind: Could we be going about all of this wrong?

I have been looking at this scary interactive map on the National Geographic website titled “If All the Ice Melted.” The map invites you to “explore the world’s new coastlines if sea level rises 216 feet.”

Apparently 216 feet is how high the oceans would rise if the title of this interactive comes true. In other words, if Tea Party’s climate-change deniers and industrial polluters prevail and Ted Cruz gets elected president and puts Sarah Palin in charge of the Environmental Protection Agency …

Naturally I went straight to Belize on the map.

Or, where Belize used to be.

As best I can tell the only portion of Belize that would remain is the low mountainous southern region that Guatemala claims is really theirs.

There would be no Ambergris Caye, no Belize City, No Corozal, no Hopkins Town or Placencia. None of the more than 200 hundred islands that dot the coast would exist. The stunning 200-mile-long  Belize Barrier Reef, the longest in the western hemisphere, would be a distant off-shore deep-sea dive.

My guess, looking at this map, is that the capital, Belmopan, becomes a coastal city. Currently, Belmopan is about 50 miles inland from the coast and Belize City.

I’m not too surprised. It won’t take 216 feet of rising sea level to do this kind of damage. Belize has zero elevation along its coast. In San Pedro on Ambergris Caye, real estate ads boast of lots with an 8-foot elevation.

They call it high ground.

Driving around the country during the rainy season we were surprised by the absence of a feature we take for granted in the states: drainage. In the wet season water pools up around houses and makeshift walkways made from scraps of wood bridge houses to the streets. That’s one reason so many houses are built on stilts. Roads are overrun by rain-swollen streams, too.

The lowlands of Belize are marked in green. Most of that would disappear should the Earth's ice caps melt, according to a National Geographic scenario.
The lowlands of Belize are marked in green. Most of that would disappear should the Earth’s ice caps melt, according to a National Geographic scenario.

If you look at the small map, at right, you can see why. Much of northern and central Belize is swampy, coastal lowlands. The water has nowhere to go but up.

Now, if I can direct your attention to the larger map (above) and the West Coast of the United States.  More specifically, the New Venice of the West, also known as San Francisco. As best I can tell, if we sit tight on our home midway between San Francisco and Sacramento we may well be sitting on waterfront property!

Our current view is golden low-rolling hills filled with grazing cattle, and fertile valleys of grape vineyards and corn. We might become an island. In which case, I christian you New Ambergris Caye!

Let the real estate bidding begin!

OK, this just isn’t going to happen.  National Geographic says that it would take more than 5,000 years to melt all five million cubic miles of ice on this planet. I just don’t have the patience to wait around.

Also, I have too much faith in the people of Earth. That’s you and me. We’re going to do something meaningful before climate change becomes a global disaster. Rising oceans are already affecting many coasts, including that of Belize but, depending on which scientists you talk to, there is still time to act responsibly and reverse the course of nature.

I’d give up the prospects of owning a future chunk of oceanfront property for that – especially one that is still 5,000 years into the future.

All right, fantasy over, there is a long list of things to do before we move to Belize. Hmmm, the deep inland community of San Ignacio is beginning to look pretty good ….

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