Sunday, June 27, 2021

Sea-Level Rise A Fact, A Political Foot Ball, a Growing Business

Tampa Bay, Fl

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

Here is an article I posted in July of 2019 regarding climate change and sea level rise.

 Once again, the issue of sea level rise is becoming a major area all along Florida’s coast.

 As the public begins to experience low lying area flooding on an increasingly severe level, the issue of climate change and sea level rise becomes very personal.

 All along Florida’s southern East Coast an up the West Coast many communities have overdeveloped low lying coastal areas that are beginning to show the signs of low level flooding during high title seasons.

 As we point out in this article, the first place the owners of these low-lying properties are going to look for a resolution is there local government.

 What will local governments do?

This is the first in a random series of Posts that look at the issues of climate change and especially sea-level rise.

There is no doubt in my mind that climate change is real, that the earth is warming, that sea levels are rising and that the next three decades could reveal catastrophic results in Florida from the impact of these factors.

Everywhere you look Climate change, and sea-level rise are issues being trumpeted by many, for example: The Union of Concerned Scientists: Under Water: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate(2018).

Quoting from the UCSS Report: “States with the most homes at risk by the end of the century are Florida, with about 1 million homes (more than 10% of the state's current residential properties); New Jersey, with 250,000 homes; and New York with 143,000 homes."

This is just one of the growing numbers of scientifically based reports that indicate that more than any state, Florida may be more at risk for major coastal property loss if the climatic change and sea level predictions are even close to being accurate.

Here is a link to a number of Florida sea level change maps: Florida Sea Level changes maps.

Recently, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis made a substantial increase to the budget line item that studies sea level impacts, but the question is what can we do now to begin to prepare for this almost certain change?

At the moment, development in the most likely affected areas is continuing at a feverish pace. More homes, towns are cities are being developed directly in the path what appears to be an impending disaster.

As the water level rises in these areas near the coast, residents will look to local and state government for an answer. Never mind the fact that making the decision to move to one these areas were of their own making.

 Already we are hearing talk of building levees and other systems to protect these currently low-lying areas, but one only has to look across the Gulf to New Orleans to see the futility of trying to hold back the effects of sea and wind.

The politicians who deny Climate Change are chastised as being unrealistic, while those embracing the concept of climate change and rising sea levels offer no serious solutions to the problem. They want carbon taxes, and fines on contributors to the climate-change  problem but offer few if any real applications for those additional dollars.

The real solution to the massive impact may lie more at the state and local levels with their ability to control and limit growth in highly vulnerable areas.

At some point, the property insurance industry will begin to assess this risk as it relates to the vulnerability of coastal properties and begin adjusting rates accordingly. While this may slow growth, it will not solve the problem.

Elected Officials will have to make the decision to protect lives and mitigate losses realizing certain areas are no long suitable for development or redevelopment and act accordingly. 

The hue and cry from all sides will be all but unbearable.

The Bay Area finds itself in cross hairs of the discussions and the reality of a sea-level rise.

The real question may not be what will the politicians do but what will you do?

Will you sit it out and wait until your property asset value is virtually gone and the water is lapping at your door, or will you quietly take your equity and move to a place where the likelihood of that equity floating away is significantly less?

If you’re looking for someone to solve the climate-change  problem as it relates to you, you might want to look in the mirror.

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