Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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

Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD

Originally Posted in 2020
Updated 2022

This is the first in a  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.

If you have not already seen them, check out these articles from the Tampa Bay Times:

From the Tampa Bay Times by Alex Harris, Miami Herald: Florida gets another $404 million for climate change prep  
Published Feb.1
Updated Feb. 1

From The Tampa Bay Times by Associated Press/ By CHRISTOPHER RUGABER AP Economics Writer Climate change a rising Fed concern as nominees face hearing  
Published Feb.2
Updated Feb. 2

From The Tampa Bay Times By Zachary T. Sampson and Langston Taylor Tampa Bay has huge flood risk. What should we do about it? 
Published Feb 3
Updated Feb. 4

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.
E-mail Doc at mail to: dr.gwebb@yahoo.com or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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