Future New Jersey Governors Will Have Trouble Getting to the Beach

And Chris Christie is part of the reason why.

Chris Christie goes to the beach

Chris Christie, taking advantage of New Jersey’s coastline before it disappears

Andrew Mills / NJ Advance Media via AP

When I asked in the Mother Jones Slack chat today whether it was too late to write a post tying climate change to the Chris Christie beach scandal, my colleague replied there was probably another 12 hours left in that news cycle. So here goes.

By now, you’ve no doubt seen the photos and heard the fallout from the New Jersey governor’s day with his family at the shore. Over the weekend, NJ Advance Media caught Christie soaking up the sun in Island Beach State Park, which he had closed to the public as part of a government shutdown linked to a state budget dispute. Christie and his family were staying at the state-owned Ocean House, which sits adjacent to the shuttered beach and is reserved for the governor’s exclusive use.

Christie’s hypocrisy is obvious, but it’s also worth pointing out that the governor is a big supporter of President Donald Trump, whose climate change policies are a threat to coastal communities everywhere. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, if we do nothing to combat global warming—which is essentially the Trump plan—sea levels will rise roughly 1-3 feet by the end of the century. So I started wondering: What will Island Beach State Park look like in a few decades? Will it even be there at all? 

Here’s a cool interactive map from Climate Central illustrating that scenario. At first glance, there might be a bit of good news for future New Jersey governors. With 3 feet of sea level rise, big chunks of the barrier island on which the beach sits will be flooded, but Ocean House itself, which is located at the end of the circular drive in the center of the map, appears to be safe. (You can play around with the map to see the impact of various degrees of sea level rise.)

But zoom out a bit farther, and you’ll notice a problem: Large parts of the road to Ocean House look like they will be underwater.

But fortunately, the house won’t be completely inaccessible for the Garden State’s future chief executives. They have an advantage that ordinary taxpayers do not. As the Washington Post notes, Christie gets to use a state-owned helicopter to travel to the beach.

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We'll also be quite transparent and level-headed with you about this.

In "News Never Pays," our fearless CEO, Monika Bauerlein, connects the dots on several concerning media trends that, taken together, expose the fallacy behind the tragic state of journalism right now: That the marketplace will take care of providing the free and independent press citizens in a democracy need, and the Next New Thing to invest millions in will fix the problem. Bottom line: Journalism that serves the people needs the support of the people. That's the Next New Thing.

And it's what MoJo and our community of readers have been doing for 47 years now.

But staying afloat is harder than ever.

In "This Is Not a Crisis. It's The New Normal," we explain, as matter-of-factly as we can, what exactly our finances look like, why this moment is particularly urgent, and how we can best communicate that without screaming OMG PLEASE HELP over and over. We also touch on our history and how our nonprofit model makes Mother Jones different than most of the news out there: Letting us go deep, focus on underreported beats, and bring unique perspectives to the day's news.

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