How climate change might impact real estateReal Estate Thursday, September 17th, 2015
Change is constant, and remarkable. Climate change, a new and undeniable reality of our times, is altering our world and our plans for the future. Recent studies have suggested that sea levels around the world appear to be rising some 60 percent faster than projections made only a few years ago by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The question is, does this have an immediate effect upon our decision-making and planning, especially vis a vis where we decide to live?
The great cities of the world are pretty much built on trade routes, and that means they lay beside bodies of water. The great U.S. cities of New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco and Seattle are at risk from rising sea levels. The shock of Hurricane Sandy in New York is causing planners and residents to stop and think. Is it truly wise to rebuild in such precarious and threatened seaside areas?
Climate change is and will continue to affect the global climate in many ways. Every place is getting warmer, wet places are getting wetter, and dry places drier. This is not necessarily a bad thing for everyone as the cold places, now getting warmer, may become more hospitable and drive migration patterns their way. The places sure to benefit include Canada, Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, Argentina and Southern Africa, while places close to the Equator lose land mass. Indeed, there are islands in the South Pacific where the topic of potential evacuation, is actually being discussed.
Here in the United States, we have cities beginning to take climate change to heart as effects are undeniable. Desert cities like Phoenix are suffering. Already hot and dry, the recent increase of average temperatures by about three degrees is no small change. In 2011, Phoenix had 33 consecutive days over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Driving through Arizona is mind-bending; the aridity potent. Lake Mead, the gigantic reservoir holding the once-mighty Colorado is shrinking and may be dry by 2020. What to do?
Surely, we can expect populations to shift away from the heat and toward water-abundant areas. But cities in trouble cannot just capitulate. Championing and utilizing renewable energy, and taking measures to reduce waste, conserve water, limit driving and generally make cities much more efficient, are not only preferred; these measures have become survival mechanisms.
With weather events becoming more dangerous, a major issue is the insurability of endangered areas. As the government and private insurers try to compensate for preventative measures and damages due to weather events, the money has to come from somewhere. It may come in the form of increased taxes or significantly higher insurance premiums but it will come. And will that extra expense make these places unaffordable?
Climate change deniers had better wake up and take notice. The world is changing; some places are becoming more livable and others less, and the decisions we make in the next decade will affect us all in countless ways. While we consider the next “hot” neighborhood, let us take note of the next hot city that is about to go under, unless we do something, and fast!
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