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  • I’ve been thinking and talking and worrying about sea level issues for several years. I live in a beach town: Santa Barbara. It’s also a rich town, with a lot of expensive property. And a lot of lawyers and realtors. So when I was talking about sea levels rising, a lot of tempers also started to rise. And when I offered to paint a future sea level line on the streets (with the backing of the city), things got very nasty indeed. So I went back to work and continued to read about sea level. And then the sea rose...

    Every year I would travel with my family to a small, rustic resort on the Kona coast of Hawaii. No TVs, no air-conditioning, no phones, no radio, no roads. Sand and water, food and books for a week. We’ve gone there for longer than a decade. And then the Japanese tsunami crossed over the waters in the matter of hours, and smashed this resort, with its hales and thatched huts on the beach. And it reminded me, more than even the unbelievable images of ruin in Japan, that as much as we love to live and play on the beach, the waters are powerful and capricious.

    Nobody was hurt in Hawaii, but the water’s intrusion marks a simple preamble to what the islands, and Santa Barbara too, can expect in coming decades. We need to be more mindful of the ocean and its gifts, and its power.

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