Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Florida’s Climate Denial Could Cause Catastrophic Recession - by Joe Romm

Florida, Texas, and Louisiana lead the nation in the value of property covered by the National Health Insurance. (Credit: thinkprogress.org/Federal Emergency Management Agency) Click to Enlarge.
The joke is on all of us:  Florida has led the way in all but ignoring the growing twin threats created by human-caused climate change — sea level rise and superstorm surge — thereby creating a trillion-dollar real-estate bubble in coastal property.  When the next superstorm like Katrina or Sandy makes its target Florida and bursts that bubble, the state can declare bankruptcy.  So too could some insurance companies.  But taxpayers — you and I — will get the several hundred billion dollar bailout bill.

And a bailout will be the best-case scenario for all of us.  When the coastal property real estate bubble bursts, what measures do we have in place to stop another catastrophic recession like the most recent one, which was also driven by a real estate bubble bursting?

Let’s do the math.  There is now at least $1.4 trillion in property within 660 feet of the U.S. coast, a detailed analysis of the data by Reuters found.  Worse, “incomplete data for some areas means the actual total is probably much higher.”

While Florida is denying the very existence of climate change, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is here to remind us that, “The good thing about science is that it’s true whether or not you believe in it.”  And what science told us in the last 12 months about likely sea level rise has been shocking.  It’s the kind of news that should have stopped coastal development cold.
A January study found that global sea level rise since 1990 has been speeding up even faster than we knew.  “The sea-level acceleration over the past century has been greater than had been estimated by others,” explained lead writer Eric Morrow.  “It’s a larger problem than we initially thought.”

The recent findings have led top climatologists to conclude we are headed toward what used to be the high end of projected global sea level rise this century: four to six feet or more.  A 2013 NOAA study found that, under such sea level rise, the areas that received the very worst storm surges from Superstorm Sandy — such as devastated places like Sandy Hook and The Battery — will be inundated by such storm surges every year or two.  In fact, in that scenario, the New Jersey shore from Atlantic City south would see Sandy level storm surges almost every year by mid-century

Worse, as discussed above, the East Coast of the United States is very likely headed toward considerably higher sea level rise over the next century than the planet as a whole.  If we don’t take very aggressive action to slash carbon pollution, we could be facing a rise upwards of 10 feet.  And considerably more than that after 2100 — sea level rise exceeding a foot per decade.

And so we are in a major coastal real estate bubble.
It’s a trillion-dollar bubble. And it looks like American taxpayers are on the hook for much of it.

Read more at Florida’s Climate Denial Could Cause Catastrophic Recession

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