When we see a built world, we tend to take its permanence and stability for granted. For those who have chosen coastal homes, that built world goes back at least 50 years, with few residents ever realizing that oceans, lakes, and rivers are living entities constantly in motion. The average person relies upon experts such as architects and civil engineers, and supposed guardrails such as state building codes and homeowner associations, to assess safety when purchasing property. But the 21st-century assumption that the built world is stable is a risky bet. Especially in “business-friendly” states.
Few people would celebrate modern infrastructure networks as magnificent beacons of our civilization: our powerlines and pipelines are drab, unsightly intrusions on the landscape. Reflecting on this, the philosopher Alain de Botton points out the Roman aqueduct at Pont Du Gard in Southern France, which is now a famous tourist attraction even though it was built for the dull task of supplying municipal water. Wisely, the Romans built it, and many others, for both beauty and function, brightening citizens’ views while slaking their thirst. Indeed, so lovely is the Roman aqueduct of Segovia that it is featured in the emblem of that province.