Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Originally Posted in 2020
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.
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. 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.
Tampa Bay, Fl
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Originally posted 2020
Lots of so-called scientific facts, links about making money (Carbon credits), facts about the sea-level rise but no links to plans or serious suggestions about what citizens, localgovernments or state governments should be doing right now.
The problem is the two groups most interested in this issue are the politicians who like to bash each other about their opponent's position for or against, believing in climate change or being a “denier” and the group looking to exploit the climate change/sea rise level rise for the maximum about of money they can literally steal. From solar panels to carbon credits, this latter group is much more interested in your money than the security of your waterfront property. When the public gets in trouble the first place, they usually look is to their local government for help. When that fails, they may look to their county or parish, and then to the state and ultimately to the federal government. The problem is none of these entities are taking any practical steps to mitigate what will be a sociological and economic catastrophe. In fact, the two levels of government best positioned to begin to mitigate the impact of sea-level rise, cities and counties, are, generally, doing more to deepen the actual crisis than they are helping to prevent it. By continuing to allow massive development of coastal and low-lying areas these local governments are stoking the flames of their own destruction. Cities and counties along the coastal portions of the united states continue to let development of coastal and low-lying areas happen at a frightening pace. When the sea-level rise becomes an obvious reality, the developers will be long gone but those owning the soon to be flooded property will come to their local government demanding the problem be fixed. Quite likely there will be no fix since nothing is currently being planned and chaos will ensue. Property values will tank; property tax revenue will take a major hit, and the very resources needed to even think about mitigation of the flooding will no longer exist. Is it time to begin limiting coastal and low-lying area development? Time to begin to move people back away from the areas now indicated by sound science that will flood as sea levels rise. Time to stop building massive high-rise developments at the water’s edge. You may be reading this thinking: not my problem. I don’t own any of that property, and I simply won’t buy any. The problem with that kind of thinking is the magnitude of this problem will be so great that it will impact government revenue from educating your kids to providing basic public services. No matter who you are your property tax will go up, because unless we take some preventative steps now the cost of resolving this problem in real time could crush the system of government as we now know it.
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Originally posted 2020
It all starts very simply. You live or have your business on the coast. At super-high tide you notice, there is some water in the street. In a year or so the same tide is now up in your yard or over the sidewalk in front of your business.
Next year, there is some water in your garage, or you show up to open for business, there is about an inch of water on the floor. No real problem you call your insurance company to file a small claim, they pay the claim and 30 days later cancel your insurance. Try as hard as you can you cannot find an insurance carrier will now write you a policy.
National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Note the year of the referenced report: 1992
|Real Dangers of Sea Level Rise - E. Eugene Webb PhD|“The program was intended to prevent or discourage unwise development but in fact, development has actually been encouraged by the availability of subsidized insurance. Rising sea level and the continuation of the NFIP will result in increased government spending of federal tax dollars to provide insurance for unwise development to a very small percentage of the population.” Probably sooner rather than later, the Federal Flood Insurance Program will be modified to limit, if not, exempt property located in the predicted sea-level rise areas. The simple reason is the cost will be prohibitive.
|Sea Level Rise Strategies for local Government|
E.Eugene Webb PhD
As much as we might like to think the Federal Government, and perhaps the State Government will bail out all of us who live near the coast, the fact is they cannot and will not. While the politicians use climate change and sea-level rise to scare people and denigrate their political competition to get votes they have no big scale solution because there simply isn’t one. Sea-level rise is ultimately a local issue affecting thousands of communities and millions of people. When the streets begin to flood at high tide, and what once was a marsh is now a bay with gradually rising water, when wastewater treatment plants conveniently located next to water ways are inundated the battle will be lost. There is a no more formidable enemy than the ocean history has shown us that fact.
For now, becoming aware of where your property is located in the sea-level flooding data is a good start. If you are already noticing what look like menacing high tides, it may be time to think about relocating.
- Will cities and counties change the building and development codes to stop building in sea level endangered areas?
- Will cities and counties commit resources to buy back lands endangered by the sea-level rise?
- Is there enough political courage to take on big developers?
- When will the property insurers stop insuring property in predicted sea level flood zones?
- Will the Federal Government insure these properties and protect the owners?
- Who will actually pay the final tab for the sea-level rise – the property owners or all of us?
- In the final analysis, as the sea level rises and people begin to find themselves with property, homes and business that they cannot get insured, occupy or sell what will they do?
- Turn to the politicians? Their solution is hiring another consultant.
- Turn to the insurance companies? They will have long ago lobbied in laws to protect themselves.
- Turn to the scientist for a fix? They will simply say, “We warned for over a decade.”
- So, what can you do?
Sea-level rise is not about “if” is about “when." You need to take the steps to protect your investment in your business and home now.
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