Apocalypse Soon

David Friedlander
4 min readJun 2, 2023
Lifestyles of Pompeii’s formerly Rich and Famous.

In modern times, Pompeii is known as the ancient Roman city entombed by volcanic debris from the explosion of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. But in ancient times, Pompeii was the playground of Rome’s super rich. With its mountain views and location on the Bay of Naples, the 11,000 person city was littered with villas and fancy restaurants, making it the place to be in the first century AD. It was like the South Beach of the ancient world…that is until it was covered in 20 feet of volcanic debris (aka “tephra”), which killed around 2,000 of its residents.

Some of the U.S. most expensive neighborhoods are also its most climate vulnerable.

The comparison to South Beach is not random. In the last few years, Miami has been one of the main destinations of rich folks in search of warm temps and low taxes. According to Fortune, the number of millionaires living in Miami increased 75 percent between 2012 and 2022, which was the fourth highest growth rate of all U.S. cities. “Miami is also home to the most millionaires and centi-millionaires (those who have a net worth of over $100 million) on the list,” according to Fortune. Worth noting is that nearby West Palm Beach was number two on the list, with a 90 percent increase. While there are no volcanoes near Miami or West Palm, rising seas make those cities about as doomed as Pompeii, and perhaps more so since volcanoes make new land and flooding makes land disappear. People live around Pompei today, 2,000 years after Vesuvius’ eruption, but no one will be living anywhere near Miami or West Palm in 2,000 years, and maybe not 20.

Despite its climate risk, Florida was 2022’s fastest growing state in the U.S.

Last year, my most popular post on Medium was called “ Florida: So Long And Thanks for the Dead Fish.” In it, I share my subjective distaste for the flat, muggy, and cultural-less Sunshine State and the objective reality of how it’s being consumed by the sea. Florida’s doom is evidenced by lots of water (storms, flooding, sea rise) and the fact that fourteen home insurance companies stopped writing new policies there in the past couple years. Insurance companies like to make money. The cessation of policy writing is not a symbolic act -it’s an act based on high risk probabilities.

On the other coast, another sun-drenched state filled with millionaires faces mortal climate threats. According to CNN, “California has seen an average of more than 7,000 wildfires each year, consuming an average of over 2 million acres, over the past five years.” In response, the country’s largest home insurer, State Farm, stopped writing policies in the state.

Combined, Florida and California make up about 19 percent of the U.S. population and around 20 percent of the country’s GDP. Climate change will significantly disrupt all of this, displacing people and destroying businesses.

For those of us who’ve come to terms with current and likely climate destruction, the mainstream’s failure to meaningfully respond to the above realities is beyond frustrating. It’s the refusal to accept the obvious and a prohibition on starting a new, better world. Personally, I take no joy in accepting climate destruction, but acceptance is preferable to ignorance and wishful thinking, and it sets the stage for responses, even if — as is the case for most of Florida — the response is “get the hell out of here.”

This post was originally published on my Substack, which is where I’ve been writing more lately and contains more personal subjects. Please take a look and if you like what you see/read, please consider a free or paid subscription to support my work. Thanks!



David Friedlander

Pondering the future, today. Housing, health, and lots of other stuff.