Why This Website?
My mission on this website is simply to ask important legal questions and identify critical issues pertaining to sea level rise and the impact it is starting to have on the American legal system.
If responsible scientific projections about the height of seas are even remotely accurate, and I am convinced they are very accurate, then all members of the legal system, from attorneys to Judges and Justices, need to learn more about the challenges ahead in multiple legal disciplines.
My interest in rising seas and their meaning for metropolitan and agricultural regions started in 2005, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Wilma and Katrina. I started reading articles about projected sea level rise published by important national publications. The threat to Florida, my home state, was pronounced...even back then. But the issue seemed too far off to worry about.
But the issue started to hit home on a more personal level a few years later, when I discovered my 90 year-old father could not reach his flooded car in his apartment parking lot near the Intracoastal water way in Fort Lauderdale due to periodic tidal flooding.
The water that frequently traps my father in his development encroaches not by overtaking the sea wall, but rather pushes up through the storm sewer system onto the blacktop. That started happening in the last few years. This small but telling reality served as a wakeup call. It became clear...symptoms of higher seas are slowly, but steadily, appearing along the Southeastern Florida coast.
Our legal system is the finest on the planet. But our planet is changing...and as officers of the Courts and society's problem solvers, we have an imminent duty to understand, and deal with sea level rise now instead of pushing that task off to future generations, when it will be too late.
Bottom line: We have the task of establishing a legal and financial framework and the mechanisms of justice, at all levels, for future sea level conflict resolution and planning. Nothing short of intelligently meeting those burdens will suffice.
I invite your insights and observations. The dialogue on rising seas and how that phenomenon impacts society today and beyond is just beginning. Let's open our minds to the possibilities of constructive engagement to this nation-altering force from a legal standpoint.
The truth is, we can adapt intelligently to sea level rise. And now is the time to get started.
I don't have all the answers to deal with rising seas, nor do I profess to know more than others on this amazing and intruding topic. But I do have questions we all must confront...and together, as lawyers, we can, and must, address them with vigor.
--Mitchell A. Chester, Esq. 9.23.13
9.27.13 Infographic courtesy The Tree at www.treealerts.org.
Mr. Chester is a member of Sea Level Adaptation Institute, a new non-profit based in South Florida.
Legal scholars and law students who wish to publish their works on Sea Level Rise and the American justice system are welcome to submit their papers to this site for publication. Full attribution and biographical information will be posted on SLRAmerica.org if the work is selected by the Editor. Please use the "Contact" page to reach the Editor for more information about this free public service.
Disclaimer: This website is not designed nor intended to provide legal advice. It is merely an effort to raise issues for discussion.