It’s 2050. In New York, the old working-class Long Island beach town of Mastic Beach no longer exists–and neither does the beach; the sand is underwater. What’s left of it combined with other flooded towns to become New Mastic. Offshore, ExxonMonsanto uses robots to harvest GMO seaweed for fuel. Near the former shore, streets are usually underwater, and the few homes that are left are on boardwalks. Over time, most of the residents accepted government buyouts of their houses and moved to higher ground. With few jobs, it’s common to live on Zuckerbucks–government assistance provided by the universal basic income program established by President Mark Zuckerberg in the 2020s.

While this future might seem somewhat unrealistic, it’s not. The Zuckerberg presidency may never come to be, but the changes in the environment, technology, and physical infrastructure are definitely coming. Even in 2017, flooding happens frequently enough in Mastic that people often keep waders in their car to walk home.

By 2050, with a potential three feet of sea level rise in the area–worsening flooding during storm surges and high tides–the part of the village nearest the bay is likely to be underwater most of the time.

A team of architects and other experts spent the last six months envisioning what the coasts of New York and New Jersey might look like in the coming decades. The vision, along with visions from three other architectural teams that looked at inland areas, is one part of an upcoming plan from the Regional Plan Association, an influential urban research and advocacy organization focused on the New York-New Jersey-Connecticut metropolitan area that releases detailed planning guidelines every 35 to 40 years. Cities and other planners look to the plans to shape their own local planning and zoning: The first plan was created in 1922, and the organization has helped suggest everything from the location of George Washington Bridge to creating a park on Governor’s Island. The 2017 plan, which will be released in October, will be the first to consider adaptation for climate change.

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