In Fall of 1994, property value indicators in the New York
area spiked for some places that no one in the industry could explain. Namely: the I-27 corridor inland of Freeport
, the warehouse district across from Cedar Hill Cemetery in Jamaica Bay
, and the stretch of suburbia between Lower Winganhauppage
Lakes in Bay Shore
. Understand these weren't tiny spikes. The buyers were offering over 350% of asking prices, making offers to owners who weren't on the market, and successfully purchasing long tracks of unwanted adjacent lots. At the time many theories were voiced by my peers but none convincing, and the issue faded out of attention.
Now, as many of you already know, I have the unusual distinction of being the only Doctored seismologist employed by Starbucks—at the corporate level, anyway. I don't know about the barrista set. For the past few years I have been contracted to develop long-term geographic and tectonic viability assessments for new markets, particularly third world and ecotourism locations, but also in nearer to home for existing markets. While the erstwhile audience for my reports is upper management, my real readers are our insurers. Laugh all you want, it keeps me traveling and pays my bills.
What it means though, is that I have to have my fingers in two large, very different pies at once, i.e. large-scale environmental issues and real estate, and thus my awareness of the aforementioned spike. More on this, anon.
Now we fly from New York to a very different part of the world: Urumqi, China, where my wicked-smart but politically misguided younger brother lives and works in his equally strange job as R&D for the ultra-conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation. Whereas I can at least tell people what I do if not the results, he usually claims that he really can't even describe what he's doing other than "research," after which he'll switch the topic to another of the disgusting eating habits of the Sinkiang locals. (Amorphophallus stew, anyone?)
Well, earlier this year my work found me in Asia, scoping out Angkor Wat for the Powers that Be. So he and I picked a weekend and agreed to meet in Jilin, which is roughly in the middle. We met, shook hands, and slogged to the center of the tiny town to a bar where after a few spiced beers conversation fell to our work. I blathered on a bit about my boring stuff, and then somehow got him to confess what it is he's been working on.
Get this, scoophounds:
Cooling fabric. Sure, it sounds like some dorky Japanese invention, but it's much, much cooler than that, if you'll pardon the pun. I'm way out of my depth here, so I may be a little ham-handed with the description, but as I understood it they're piping coolant through nanofibers woven into clothing. (??) He said the pump is a little larger than a cigarette case and you can wear it on your belt. The fabric is only as stiff as a rain jacket, and it can lower your body temperature enough that hanging out in the Gobi desert feels like a Spring day in the Dakotas.
Naturally, I asked why. Then the bastard got coy on me.
Think about the Middle East, he said. Pretty hot, ya? Why, if it were just thiiis much hotter (holding his fingers an inch apart), even the locals would have to find somewhere else to live. It would take some foresighted multinational corporation, say, with lots of money to spend on futuristic ACAV equipment and water purification systems just to stay there and squeeze all that delicious oil out of the ground.
And that's all I got. But I thought about this the rest of that weekend, all on my flight back to Thailand, and all on my flight home. Here's where my inner conspiracy theorist kicked in.
We American progressives have long been incredulous about the apparent ostrich-ness of the Republican party and their businesshead overlords. How is it possible that they can constantly ignore the massive scientific evidence that has been piling up about global warming? Surely their eschatonic worldview and grotesque self-serving sense of entitlement doesn't completely, lemmingly blind them to the impending doom, right? Glaciers are evaporating. Polar bears are shedding. Seattle is becoming downright...sunny. And deserts are getting bigger.
Surely this hasn't been...planned, has it?
So back to the skyrocketing real estate prices in 1994. When I got home, I dug up the old sales data, and slyly cross referenced each of them against two fairly obscure databases: Starbucks' predictive coastline models and a nifty Lexis Nexis-type real estate system stupidly called RealtyBytes. What I found out was that each of the land purchases was made on what will be coastline in 30 to 50 years as the sea levels rise. I had hoped to find that these purchases were made by the heads of oil execs whose companies headquarter in the northeast, but no such luck. Instead, most were made by offshore holding companies I couldn't trace. But about a third of the purchases were made not by offshore holding companies or the oil execs, but by local holding companies solely owned and operated by...their wives. I ain't going to risk libel just for e2, so that's where my published data will end.
But, I will say this: Why 1994? A little googling reveals that this is the same year the Heritage Foundation published its internal report—on geopolitics and global warming.
Check out some of the evidence yourself at http://guest.realtybytes.com/query?ax21305&s=233