Letter From Home: On wealth and diginity


I have spent a good bit of time in the past week on Gasparilla Island, researching and photographing Boca Grande for our Market Snapshot feature that appeared in Saturday’s Real Estate section, and behind the gates of the Sanderling Club on Siesta Key.

In both places, there is an incredible amount of wealth. Not a few visitors to Boca Grande arrive by private jet. On Siesta, Lamborghinis and Bentleys fill the garages.

I saw houses that were bought with inherited money, and others that were built or bought by people with an incredible work ethic.

Besides the size of their bank accounts, the wealthy are not that different from the rest of us. They may excel in one area — skill, genius or the depth of their energy — but their personal dignity or accessibility varies just as it does with the worker bees of the world.

In the end, they all need shelter. Their homes may be bigger, more elegant or more opulent, but they are no better than the homes that make the rest of us happy.


My recent columns on climate change continue to generate emails or comments on Facebook. This one gave me one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” moments:

“With all the current machinations about global warming, one always seems to overlook the main and major cause: explosive world population growth.

“The demand for more and more of whatever creates pollution is created mainly by more and more beings crammed onto this Earth. Look no farther than our Southwest Florida areas.”

— C.M.Kase, Bradenton

In response: World population in 1900: 1.65 billion. World population today: 7.3 billion. Population started to take off in 1950 and could reach 16 billion by 2100, according to the U.N.'s highest estimate. The middle estimate predicts 10 billion by the end of the century.

“Dear Harold, I thought I would just send some personal observations with regard to local sea levels in my lifetime, so far:

“We spent some time in summer months in a house on the south end of Bradenton Beach in the late 1940s, before the Longboat Pass bridge was there. That house would now be in approximately three feet of Gulf at low tide. I spent some time in the city of Anna Maria in 1994-95, and found many lots that had been dry land when platted in 1920s were also in three or more feet of gulf water at low tide.”

— Bill Zimmerman

“Sad to read that there is still argument on climate change. Almost all of the science necessary to understand how CO2 affects climate can be understood at the high school level. The greenhouse effect itself (common to all gas molecules of 3 or more atoms) may require lab apparatus a little more sophisticated, but that process has never been questioned. The basic idea that electromagnetic radiation (light) has energy based on wavelength was demonstrated by Einstein over 100 years ago and is of course the basis of all electro-optics, including tube and flat screen TV’s and other devices.

“Perhaps the scientists should have tried to educate the public with a different approach. If there was no CO2 in the atmosphere, our climate would be more like on Mount Everest. We need some CO2 to balance the heat received from the sun with the heat radiated from the Earth, but now we have too much CO2 and that can be accounted for by generating more (by burning fossil fuels) than can be absorbed by photosynthesis.

“Sad, but really understandable. We have a long tradition of ignoring the negative effects of our technology in our economy. My personal example: My summer job at the weather department in 1959 included maintaining apparatus to measure ground-level ozone. Why? Not because of smog, asthma, etc., but because ozone is harmful to TOBACCO crops.”

— Jack Shapiro

Harold Bubil

Recipient of the 2015 Bob Graham Architectural Awareness Award from the American Institute of Architects/Florida-Caribbean, Harold Bubil is real estate editor of the Herald-Tribune Media Group. Born in Newport, R.I., his family moved to Sarasota in 1958. Harold graduated from Sarasota High School in 1970 and the University of Florida in 1974 with a degree in journalism. For the Herald-Tribune, he writes and edits stories about residential real estate, architecture, green building and local development history. He also is a photographer and public speaker. Contact him via email, or at (941) 361-4805.
Last modified: January 3, 2016
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