Thursday, May 17, 2018

Onwards to a New Home


I got that PhD.

You think this would be a momentous relief. But then you remember. Science does not stop. You can wrap some of it up into a nice bow and print it on oddly expensive paper, then turn it in to a series of administrators at your home institution with an eclectic collection of faculty signatures, but all that does is...well, put some of your work on oddly expensive paper.

There is still more to be done. There will always be more to do. Sometimes, the trick is to figure out what that is. Sometimes the trick is to back off enough so that you do not lose your sanity when it seems as if everything needs to be studied right now.

I am heading to the Netherlands in a little less than a month, where the study of coastal dynamics gets a bit more attention than here in the U.S.A. I intend to return in a few years, when perhaps we as a country have figured out that it is worth a bit of foresight to not pay billions of dollars in flood insurance every time an intense hurricane makes landfall. A bit of foresight to avoid lives lost and people displaced. I am thinking specifically of Hurricane Harvey at the moment (but also Sandy, Katrina, Irene, and...gods there is a list)

Sorry. I'm not at all bitter. I swear. But the truth remains: as a country, we need to be doing better at this. And we have the brainpower and technology do be better.

I hope to get more of the former in the Netherlands, to maybe figure out a reasonable way to present this information to America in an actionable manner. For one, what sorts of things should coastal communities expect from the government? How should this list differ between small coastal towns and large coastal cities? How feasible are hard armor structures? Soft armor structures? Pure reliance on evacuation routes? What do other countries do, and how can we adapt our variety of coastlines and governance models to these?

All questions that stay with me as I leave my entire life behind and head to a difference shore. This is going to be an adventure, and not one of those shiny ones.

It's real life. I have a PhD, but that has changed absolutely nothing about me and how I relate to the world. I just get a bit more expensive paper to shove into my box of books.