August 1, 2009

Why aren't more people going to the beach?

This NYT article attributes the phenomenon to the reverse-global warming we're having. Nah, just kidding. It's a cool summer, and that's the reason given for the low beach attendance, but, of course, there's the predictable denial of the denial of global warming:
William D. Solecki, a geography professor at Hunter College of the City University of New York and co-chairman of a mayoral panel on climate change, warned that this summer’s unusually mild temperatures should not buoy global warming skeptics.

“Ask them to visit Seattle,” he said, where a record temperature of 103 was recorded on Wednesday.

“On average, going back decades, we would only have a few days above 90 in any given summer,” he said, “and while we haven’t hit that mark yet, there’s still a lot of summer left.”
I love that we are "warned" not to feel optimistic. How twisted we've become! It's like people are rooting for disaster. I also love the way we're instructed not to take any cool weather as evidence of what the climate is becoming, but any hot weather will be used to "buoy" our belief that disaster looms ahead. (You're going to need a buoy when those oceans rise up.)

But I want to raise the question whether it's the low temperatures that are keeping so many people away from the beach. There are plenty of other reasons not to go to the beach: it's a hassle, we've got air conditioning, we love indoor activities like movies and computer games, we're concerned about skin cancer, we've gotten fat and don't want to be seen in a bathing suit, etc. etc. It's really quite silly to think that — in the modern world — going to the beach is the natural and automatic response to hot weather. Most of us can get some cool at home, and if we can't, it's much simpler to go to the movies or a restaurant.

As the generation that grew up without air conditioning ages and dies off, maybe beach-going will become an old-fashioned, occasional activity, not the main idea of summertime.

74 comments:

William T Sherman said...

Beach vacations are planned four to six months ahead of time. So go back four to six months and look at the economic reports and forecasts and you'll see why a lot of people decided to cut back on the vacation budget this year.

Sure, Global Warming is a crock. But this is about families cutting expenses during a recession.

Meade said...

Needle-phobia.

SteveR said...

over rated

traditionalguy said...

The classy resorts are booked up at the beach more than before. It is a great trip for kids and grand kids with their loving parents to an environment that is wholesome and safe. On the other hand who wants to go to a beach that looks and acts like a Motorcycle gang clubhouse with druged out freaks imitating insane derelicts and girls gone wild. Maybe people are discouraged with the atmosphere there.

blake said...

We're going to rue the day we--

Wait, we're going to rue the era of non-global warming.

Can you rue an era? That's a lot of rueing. Ruing? They do a lot of rouxing on the Food network.

But I digress.

Nichevo said...

Ann, you deprecate the beach because you are a pale-skinned ice person, of a certain age, who has no notion of subjecting her tender epidermis to the sun's harmful rays. If you felt that people were becoming more like you, or that there were more people like you, this would be valid.

However, the point about going to the beach, for those of us who don't live there, is that there are only a relatively few days a year when it is feasible. My cousin has a place out on the tip of Long Island, where you can go anytime, but outside of the summer months it just isn't resort weather.

We did just get back from a beach vacation, and I wish it could have been longer. (Don't worry, Ann, I'd have kept you inside, with your laptop, in the nice air conditioning, chained to the bed where you belong.)

Speaking of laptops, LCD screens not much joy in the sunlight (not an original observation I am sure) - what to do?

John Burgess said...

I live 10 minutes from a great beach in SW Florida, 20 minutes from one that often rated as 3rd best in the world. I go to the beach a couple of times a week.

Due to my very pale skin, I avoid going during the middle of the day. Instead, I'll go early--say around 7am--or late--from 5:30pm onward. The beaches are less crowded, sometimes with only two or three people in a mile of beach.

By using the off-hours, I do not get the parade of scantily clad beach bunnies, but I can live with (or without) that. Those hours, too, tend to bring out older people who are comfortable with their bodies, so there's sometimes a lot of flesh to be seen. That doesn't bother me in the least. I'm at the beach for my exercise and recreation, not talent spotting for the next reality TV show.

Alas, the nearest--and only legal in FL--nude beach is off on the Atlantic side of the state, some three hours away. That's worth the occasional trip, but not usually.

The county bans both drinking and smoking at its beaches, but that's not terribly burdensome. The only real hassle is finding parking with easy beach access. After 10am, it's nigh onto impossible until late in the afternoon.

Randy said...

Nichevo, you're such a bright ray of sunshine! It is obvious that your beach trip was so relaxing and peaceful for you that you are compelled to share your new attitude with others. Thanks so much.

EDH said...

Aptly, As Praias Desertas sounds a lot like Lesbian Seagull.

Fred4Pres said...

I am of the late Michael Criton and Bjørn Lomborg school on global warming and climate change--yes there is a human component to it, yes CO2 (in part) contributes to it, but the alleged harm is greatly exaggerated and the only way to really lower CO2 is to develop alternative non-CO2 energy sources. Any attempt to control CO2 directly is just huge amounts of money and resources wasted that could be better used on a host of pressing human an enviromental issues that need addressing.

And go figure, that big ball of fire in the sky may have a role in climate on planet Earth.

Greg Toombs said...

Rain.

We've possibly set a record here in the NY/NJ area for the rainiest June & July recorded, according to the National Weather Service.

Ran + cool temps = no beach for you!

Nichevo said...

Randy, uh, thanks for your support. Have we talked before?

I did in fact have a great time, not least because I stopped on by to see a pale-skinned ice girl of long acquaintance who would be glad to amplify my remarks on the antipathy of her kind for "tanning" (I am the sun person in this relationship).

She assures me that SPF 4 does nothing, nothing whatsoever, and I assure her that that is exactly what I want a suntan lotion to do. She would not much care to hear what I would like to do to AA, as she'd rather I do it to her, but she understands hyperbole. In fact we were just this morning discussing "chaining her to the bed," so the practice with Ann might come in handy.

Hmmm, maybe both of them together, a blonde and a redhead...ahem, I'll be in my bunk.

Joan said...

As the generation that grew up without air conditioning ages and dies off, maybe beach-going will become an old-fashioned, occasional activity, not the main idea of summertime.

Well, I'm doing my part to cultivate a love of the beach in my offspring, but our 5 weeks on the East Coast was washed out this summer. We spent a grand total of about 6 hours on the beach, most of it freezing or getting stung by the sand that the wind was whipping up. Last summer the weather was heavenly and we practically lived at the beach. I don't think either year's weather had anything to do with global warming.

It's New England, the weather is unreliable.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

This is actually great beach weather- no sunstroke on hot sand- but here's the real reason NY'ers at least are staying away from the beaches in droves: sewage!

Kevin Walsh said...

I haven't been to the beach since 1976 when I got a blistering sunburn. That was enough for me.

Why go to the beach? You have to take most of your clothes off and BURN YOUR SKIN in the hot sun? Please.

www.forgotten-ny.com

Bruce Hayden said...

I have never understood the allure of the beach. Having grown up around mountains all my life, I go to the beach and see a lot of water. And sand that gets in everything. And dead stuff washed up on the beach. And then I go back to my mountains.

Bissage said...

(1) The problem with the Jersey Shore is it’s too expensive and too crowded.

(2) I should add that my first bathing suit boner occurred on the beach at age 16. There were three college-aged girls on a blanket nearby. All three were gorgeous.

Two seemed to have noticed my predicament and to have found it highly amusing. I am, to this day, grateful they did not point.

This all happened at Loveladies, NJ.

That is, of course, a misnomer.

A more fitting name for that sandy stretch of Long Beach Island would have been Frustratedbissage, NJ.

Fred4Pres said...

Ahhh, the Jersey Shore. What tales the boardwalks could tell...

Fred4Pres said...

Meade and Ann got so close to some of the best Atlantic beaches and then turned around to head back to Lake Mendota...

slip sliding away? No, not really...

As Ann explained, schedules had to be met, they had commitments that had to be done in a limited time, and she is not that much of a beach person.

William T. Sherman is correct, this decline is most likely prompted by economic factors and some unseasonable cool weather.

john said...

Let me just say that I have been to the Jersey shore and it's not at all like they said. Hunter Thopmson is no reason to travel that far.

(I'll stick to the desert where there is always lots of beach.)

Lem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Synova said...

We don't go to the beach for all those reasons, plus our kids are all in summer camp activities and Moms are working.

Air Conditioning is HUGE.

We spent one summer in Boca Raton (sp?) and while I DID take the kids (toddlers!) to the beach and to the pool, the locals I met said that you just didn't SEE anyone anymore because rather than be forced out to the front porch in the evenings to catch a little bit of breeze and get to know the neighbors everyone was hidden away indoors.

Lem said...

Wrong beach landing

Lem said...

Synova, Althouse is geting married today.. see previous post.

Synova said...

One of the last times we went to the beach, IIRC, was in California (Minnesota lakes are different and Grandma and Grandpa live on one) to Muir Beach and the kids fed the dog their left over cheese-burgers, the dog up-chucked them in the car and then (thankfully) ate them again before we got parked so I could clean it up... and then we locked the keys in the van.

*sigh*

Can't imagine why I wouldn't want to do THAT all the time. ;-)

Synova said...

"Synova, Althouse is geting married today.. see previous post."

Congratulations!

And what the heck is she doing Blogging?

chuckR said...

I worked my way through college roofing. It left me with a deep and abiding distaste for laying around cooking myself on a beach. The guys who did hot mop built-up roofing had it worse - their product came up at several hundred degrees F. They had the same approximate percentage water weight as a stick of beef jerky.

Now being in the sun on a bike or the rail of a sailboat on a reach, that's another thing altogether.

Lem said...

And what the heck is she doing Blogging?

Well.. Meade is one of us so .. I dont know. Its makes sense that she is blogging it.

I hope they video tape it for us.

JeanneB said...

Ann: Don't know if this applies up North, but there's another explanation for fewer beach dwellers.

I live about a half hour from gorgeous white-sand Gulf beaches. But we haven't gone in years.

At the height of summer we can now get extremely low airfares TO THE MOUNTAINS. Summer rentals in Colorado cost far less than a beach house in high summer.

Technology has made that longer trip so much easier: browse VRBO specials, watch airfares on multiple discount sites, grab those rental car coupons. And no waiting days for exchange of snail mail. Email allows practically instant answers to questions about the rental. One can plan such a trip in no time.

I'm sure more people are just staying home this year. But I suspect a lot of them (like us) are heading for cooler, quieter climes.

Golden West said...

Unfortunately, we see no shortage of beachgoers here in northern San Diego County. We're counting the days until summer ends, the tourists go home and we have the beaches to ourselves again.

Alex said...

So basically the rich get to have their classy beach resorts, the rest of us plebeians have to make do on the gang-infested shit-holes they call "public beaches". Nice to see class warfare is alive and well in America!

Yes I'm an angry pleb and not going to take it anymore!

Kirby Olson said...

It rained 25 out of 30 days in New York State.

It's just been raining an awful lot in the northeast.

We're calling it The Green Winter.

Fred4Pres said...

Does Manatoulin Island have beaches?

Foobarista said...

I like to go to the beach and get in the water. Sadly, I live in northern California, where beaches are beautiful, but fed by the icy Alaska Current, so going in the water without a wetsuit is a test of manhood (or womanhood). Still, I go to the beach and play in the waves a bit.

We also go to Hawaii a lot for snorkeling and other shore adventuring, where you can swim in the water easily.

But we rarely go to "cool off". We sometimes go in January or February, when local weather oddities make beaches quite warm (often 70+) while inland areas are fogged in and aren't much above 40.

Fred4Pres said...

They are home making their own pop tarts...

Fred4Pres said...

Glenn Reynolds found that food link.

jag said...

"We are warned not to feel optimistic"

It's never too late in the summer to give in to the looming despair--so don't despair if you're not yet despairing!

Dana said...

Ann,

Here in So. Cal, the drive to the beach *should* take 45 minutes but due to the horrific traffic, it easily takes an 1 hour 45 minutes - 2 hours. Why bother?

After finally finding a parking spot (another 30 mins), and trucking to the sand, there waiting are hundreds of people crammed so closely together you can count the stretch marks and tell who didn't shave their legs for the occasion.

Meh. A/C at home, the mountains, or a cold shower all much more inviting.

ironrailsironweights said...

you can count the stretch marks and tell who didn't shave their legs for the occasion

Hmmm, if a woman doesn't shave her legs for the beach, she probably also doesn't shave her ... yum!

Peter

Michael Hasenstab said...

Althouse, step away from the computer. Take time to savor the bliss, sans blogging.

Michael Hasenstab said...

When bloggers have a threesome, a computer is usually involved.

steve said...

Maybe it's because Discovery channel has been advertising their Shark week programming. The guy on the surfboard who is suddenly pulled under or the girl in the bikini swimming peacefully underwater until something yanks her down. Has a tendency to turn you off to going to the beach

srfwotb said...

Those who really love the beach go all year long.

Revenant said...

I live in San Diego, and I almost never go to the beach unless I'm entertaining guests from out of town.

J said...

“Ask them to visit Seattle,” he said"

Sooo, unusually high temperatures are irrefutable evidence of AGW, but unusually low temperatures are...also irrefutable evidence of AGW? I'm just trying to keep up here. Is a geography professor any more qualified to pontificate about AGW than a randomly selected housepet?

"we've gotten fat and don't want to be seen in a bathing suit"

We're aware most others have as well. For every hot babe at the beach, there are about 400 other people who have absolutely no business appearing in public without a full complement of clothing. Who have abnormal ideas about tattoos and/or piercing, or worse, disgusting European ideas about body hair control.

And that's before we get to the fact that for many of us, our lives would have to be in direct, imminent danger before we would ever even consider immersing ourselves in a natural body of water.

The Crack Emcee said...

With a name like The Crack Emcee, you guys don't want to know, historically, what my idea of a "good time" is. That said, I can assure you, it rarely involves going to the beach. I go from time to time, but it's just "nice", no big deal, as good as going anywhere else people gather - but it's the people gathering part that can make it a huge let-down, as traditionalguy said.

Oh, and in case nobody noticed, I'm black (!) so fear of the nasty sun rays ain't part of it. Some people just ain't *thrilled to death* to go there, and I'm one of them. Right now, I'm at home with the air conditioner going full-blast, a fan spinning, and with the window in front of me open - and I'm happy.

To that global warming warming, I submit this post, which mirrors my thoughts pretty well. And, if you doubt the idea of a "con" at work, I'll remind you that, like the word "cult" (which more people use, than most think, to describe certain phenomena in our current culture) "con" gets thrown out there a lot as well. Mostly because this scheme has been in the works for some time. It just took time for the Boomers to come to power to implement the plan, created at all those workshops and seminars of the 70s and 80s. And scaring people to death is definitely part of the plan. As Saul Alinsky reminds us in Rules for Radicals:

"The threat is generally more terrifying than the thing itself."

Richard Fagin said...

I haven't gone to the beach in nine years. I miss it. There were many part days spent playing hooky from work while I was out cruising Mustang Island (yes you can still drive on some Texas beaches). No point in going now; the Corvette is too well restored to drive in the sand, and there's not much point in a gray headed old geezer trying to attract attention of underdressed twenty somethings..........

Oh, wait, THAT's why more people aren;t going to the beach.

John Burgess said...

Alex: Come to Florida, then. A couple thousands miles of public beaches. Some are crowded, like near Miami or Daytona, while others are all but empty.

You get to choose, too, from a cooler Atlantic or warmer Gulf of Mexico. If you don't like one, you're just a few hours away from the other. You can do both in one day, if you want.

rhhardin said...

Little drops of water
Little grains of sand
Make a summer cottage
More than I can stand.

- somebody, Joyce Kilmer or Dorothy Parker.

Penny said...

Living in an area that people pass through on their way to the beach, I have trouble believing there is any shortage of vacationers.

Here's something I found amusing, and really rather enjoyed. At Caesar's Pier in Atlantic City, you can go to their third level, take off your shoes, walk through their indoor, adult sandbox to an adirondack chair and enjoy the always amazing ocean view from the comfort of an air conditioned environment.

They're on to us older "kids".

Dogwood said...

We go to the beach every summer but only because my wife's grandmother has a cottage next to the beach in Grand Haven, Mich.

The kids love to swim & build sand castles, I prefer walking along the beach, onto the pier out to the lighthouse, then back along the river walk to downtown.

People and boat watching while sitting on the river bank under a shade tree eating ice cream is a relaxing way to spend a few hours per day.

We also take our bikes to the cottage which makes it easy to hit a couple different playgrounds around town without driving.

We're going back to the beach for one more week before our girls start school. Our summer total will then stand at four beach weeks. Last year I think we did five weeks.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

John, I'm 1.5 hours away from Clearwater Beach and I love love love it. Sometimes I haul off and go by myself. I like Cocoa Beach too. Haven't been to Sarasota yet. Have been to Vero Beach. I'm told that each beach has its own personality.

The sunset at Clearwater Beach, when we've seen it, has been spectacular. People who live there come out of their houses and drift down toward the water to look.

Crimso said...

The last time I went to the beach was in, of all places, Denmark. Didn't notice the temperature, was too busy noticing that about 1/3 of all the women were topless. I don't see the ocean often, but the ocean with topless women, you don't see that just every day.

NKVD said...

I blame Bush.

Chase said...

One often gets the queasy, sad feeling that Global Warming Fans are praying that it will happen, just in order to someday be able to say "I told you so".

Fred4Pres said...

The advertisement preceeding this video explains why...

Fred4Pres said...

Congrats by the way on the big day (if it happened).

Rick Lee said...

Seems like an awful lot of people I know still go to the beach, but my wife and I quit going to the beach years ago. Now that we can afford it, we'd rather go to New York or Chicago or London. The beach was a good "cheap" vacation.

bagoh20 said...

I can see it from my house. I used to go every day. Now I still go weekly. I have loved the beach since I was a child. I can't say exactly why, but I would really miss it if I ever moved away. When I was younger and physically worth looking at, I loved being near naked and playing in the waves. That is difficult to enjoy when you are older and realize that you likely are ruining the scenery for others. I do enjoy watching those who enhance it. That certainly has not changed. I also still go regularly because I enjoy the party atmosphere as in:

"On the other hand who wants to go to a beach that looks and acts like a Motorcycle gang clubhouse with druged out freaks imitating insane derelicts and girls gone wild."

I enjoy that. When you get your fill, you just leave. That's another great thing about the beach: The door is wide and always open in both directions.

John Burgess said...

Laura(southernxyl): Siesta Key is very popular at sunset also. I'm not actually all that keen on straining my eyeballs to look at a ball of fire, but there's always the green flash to hope for.

A great thing about the beaches in Sarasota is that they're also great fishing grounds. I've caught snook, redfish, and a 50-lb tarpon all just beyond the first sandbar, in about three feet of water. Again, early or late is better than midday.

peter hoh said...

Why aren't more people going to the beach?

Because they are going to the dumpster instead.

kcom said...

After I finished reading this post I happened to click over to Google News and saw this headline:

"Summer dies after struggling in ocean off NYC"

I though to myself, maybe Ann is right. Perhaps summer tried and failed this year.

Then I looked closer and realized it said: Swimmer dies after struggling in ocean off NYC.

Roux said...

We've been twice this year to Orange Beach, AL. On the Alabama/Florida border. It's a great place with lot's of families and relatively inexpensive accommodations.

My guess why people aren't vacationing as much is the economy. It's one thing you can cut pretty easily.

FWIW School is starting earlier and earlier. School teachers go back Aug 4th. We didn't start school until after Labor Day but that was 35 years ago.

Anne said...

Maybe too many people are watching "Shark Week" in their air conditioned houses.

Seriously, we go to the S.C. and N.C. beaches as often as possible. Right now I'm feeding the pets of two neighbor families who are at S.C. beaches, and it feels like the whole town (Columbia, S.C.) is empty because folks are doing the lsat beach trip before school starts early this year.

Linda in California said...

Why don't you people go in the water instead of laying around on the beach? You can body surf or just swim out past the breakers where you can just tread water or float around on your back and look at the sky while feeling the waves move under you.

Nobody can see your body when your are in the water either. My mother and aunts would slip out of their swim suits with just the straps tied around their necks. My cousins and I figured that people on a pier next to them could see them "naked" so we hauled ourselves out of the water, ran across the hot burning beach sand, marched down the long splintered pier only to find our mothers were swimming in water through which we could only see their shapes and not see their nakedness. They saw us and chererfully waved telling us to come back in, the water felt so good. We lumbered back into the water where our mothers tied our suits around our necks and we, too swam naked and nobody could tell.

Nichevo said...

LOL, I kinda assume 'beach' means 'swim' - but perhaps others don't?

Kirk Parker said...

Nichevo,

"SPF 4 does nothing"

Well, duh! Try SPF 45 if you need actual protection.

Bruce,

You poor people from the mountain states have to say that about the beach, so you aren't consumed with jealousy for us Puget Sound dwellers, who get to have it all within a 2 to 3-hour radius. :-)

Jeremy said...

We go 5 times a week.

Sometimes more.

Nichevo said...

Kirk Parker: I'm not sure I do need protection. I want to get a tan. I figure if I can stay out for 20 min with no problems and I want to stay out 80 min, use 4 SPF. Renew if and as it wears off, sweating, swimming, etc.

But what is the point of 15+ SPF? You'll never tan! Especially if you only have a chance at a couple hours' beach or pool time - if you were going to be out 15 hours a day I could see a 15 SPF.

hdhouse said...

In the Hamptons this year, the mid level summer rentals are off 50%, the weekend traffic is at a trickle, a typical long weekend here costs over 1500$ for a couple with food and lodging and rare beach passes... the economy in nyc trumps global warming and 2/3rds of the days filled with rain.

Comrade X said...

Gene's 5:26 pretty much explains everything.

liz said...

I'm at the beach! Drove 16 hours to get here, traffic was horrible, rained all afternoon yesterday, freezing and windy on the beach when it's not raining, i'm a pasty white freckly girl, but I LOVE the beach! I've gone to the beach for a week almost every year of my 47 years. Due to my dad's Navy career, we usually lived near the beach, but we'd still get a beach house for a week anyway and he'd go to work every day. The houses are a lot nicer now than when I was a kid -- here in SC, they were all knocked down in Hurricane Hugo and have been rebuilt.

MadisonMan said...

Sooo, unusually high temperatures are irrefutable evidence of AGW, but unusually low temperatures are...also irrefutable evidence of AGW? I'm just trying to keep up here. Is a geography professor any more qualified to pontificate about AGW than a randomly selected housepet?

You have it precisely backwards.

The fact that it's cold in the midwest/east (Coldest July EVER -- well, since 1869 -- in Madison!) means nothing wrt to Global Temperature, as there is always someplace extreme at the other end. Seattle's broken (by 3 degrees) their all-time record high this Summer, and the north slope of AK has also been close to all-time record highs.

Weather != Climate.

Sntxgrp said...

I blame it Discovery Channels "Shark Week"

-Mike
San Diego Vacation Rental