Book Review: Moving to Higher Ground by John Englander
February 27, 2023
John Englander’s Moving to Higher Ground: Rising Sea Level and the Path Forward raises awareness of the ongoing sea level rise (SLR), a current reality that the public and institutions should accept and adapt to moving forward. The book is divided into three chapters: the first chapter provides the scientific explanation of the phenomenon, the second chapter represents a framework of actions to address the issue, and the final chapter describes the pathway that leads to “intelligent adaptation” and moving to higher ground both physically and mentally.
The book’s context deepens into the causes of SLR and highlights that the high carbon dioxide levels are the primary reason for a warmer planet and the ice melting. In addition, the continuous dissolving of Antarctica and Greenland’s ice sheets significantly affects the SLR, raising the necessity for immediate adaptations inland. The book’s primary purpose is to educate the public about the future SLR of 10 feet or more.
The chapters provide a simplified analysis of the scientific data regarding SLR. Englander explains that CO2 emissions cause the warming of the atmosphere and the oceans, resulting in more ice melting on land and affecting current water levels (Englander 26, 60). This approach makes the source informative for its intended audiences: coastal property owners to plan accordingly for SLR, experts that can develop adaptive planning, and legislators who have the authority to construct policies that will correspond to the long-term coastal changes.
As environmental activists demand removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, Englander explains that even the immediate elimination of carbon dioxide wouldn’t help to stop global warming and ice melting for this century due to the heat already stored in the oceans (Englander 38). Thus, the necessity to accept the SLR at its core and initiate relevant public policies and insurance plans is a central theme in the book.
One of the book’s strengths is that it represents practical recommendations, such as the involvement of architects and engineers in generating plans for elevated coastal properties. As the coastal zones are at risk of hurricanes and flooding, the SLR should serve as a priority concern for these communities. The SLR implies higher flooding waves which would disrupt coastal possessions, and this tendency can already be identified (Englander 62).
Englander compares the readiness to accommodate the adaptive infrastructures of the Netherlands and Singapore with the United States, as the latter still requires extensive modifications in the coastal areas (Englander 90-91). However, he identifies the potential of the US Defense Department to adapt and lead an example for the nation (58). This aspect raises the book’s importance in the field as the evaluation of preparedness is a valuable asset for policymakers to incorporate as a basic sample.
Englander successfully delivers the book’s purpose as it alerts the audience to embrace the reality that water levels are permanently rising and affecting the states’ economies. He calls for everyone to consider adapting to alternating coastal lines and moving to a higher ground that involves physical and mental progress from the past order. Finally, a comprehensive checklist is included for readers to assess property and flooding risks as a concluding notice to prepare for long-term SLR.
The book emphasizes how essential it is for communities worldwide to face environmental changes head-on and begin adapting and finding alternatives. Even though SLR is inescapable for this century, people should collectively continue their fight against climate change and align these efforts with SLR adaptation. Recycling, reducing energy usage, conserving — these environmentally friendly activities should be continued to preserve the Earth for centuries.