68 pages 2 hours read

Ed. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ed. Katharine K. Wilkinson

All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis

Nonfiction | Anthology/Varied Collection | Adult | Published in 2020

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Part 4

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “Reshape”

Part 4, Chapter 23 Summary: “Heaven or High Water” by Sarah Miller

Miller’s essay explains the concept of “sunny day flooding,” which happens frequently in towns like Charleston, North Carolina, Norfolk, Virginia, and Miami Beach, Florida. Sunny day flooding is just what it sounds like—water coming up through the ground, caused by tides—and it happens frequently and unexpectedly on sunny days. This is a side effect of rising sea levels; in Miami, the sea level has risen 10 inches since 1900 (147). Scientists believe that the sea will rise in Miami Beach between 14 and 34 inches by 2060. Yet luxury real estate remains a continually growing business.

Miller began meeting with real estate agents not because she planned to purchase a home in Miami Beach, but because she wanted to hear what these agents are telling their clients about the future of the place in which they are purchasing million-dollar homes and condos. Each of the real estate agents assured Miller that because of the pumps that the city had put in place to address flooding, there was no need to worry. Many of them spoke of raising sidewalks and buildings when the streets flood but reassured her that there was no immediate cause for concern.

It became clear to Miller that for the sake of financial gain, these luxury real estate businesses and millionaires refuse to look more than 15 or 20 years ahead to see what the city and the developments will look like.