Dire warnings about the future costs of global warming aren't shifting American policy on carbon emissions, but maybe damage to people's hip pockets occurring in real time will make a difference. A new study has found rising sea levels – a direct result of a warmer planet – have wiped $7.4 billion off the value of waterside property in just five states.
The authors are working on expanding their research to the whole US coastline, which will presumably produce an even more eye-watering figure. In the meantime, property owners in those five states can look up their address on a nifty little tool and find out how much they personally have lost.
People will pay a fortune for ocean views, but no one wants the sea invading their home, so when high tides coincide with storm surges to bring water to their doorsteps, prices crash. Sea levels have risen around 35 millimeters (1.4 inches) between 2005 and 2016 along the Atlantic coastline, and the consequences are being felt in far more frequent floods.
To measure the effects on property prices First Street Foundation identified properties that have been affected by high tides, or are close enough to scare off potential buyers. They then compared the price movements of vulnerable properties with those of safer ones on higher ground nearby, so they could control for broader movements in house prices.
First Street started with a report – published in Population Research and Policy Review – on the Miami-Dade area of Florida, whose low-lying nature makes it among the most vulnerable areas in the United States. They then expanded to cover the whole of Florida, along with Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia.
Unsurprisingly, Florida accounts for the bulk of losses measured so far, representing $5.42 billion – remember this is a state that unofficially banned its employees from even mentioning the problem. South Carolina’s $1.11 billion is a distant second, while Georgia has barely been touched so far. Only the effects of sea level rise are being considered here, however – the harder-to-measure damage of additional heat to the value of farms is just one form of harmful climate change that hasn’t been included.
Owners of million-dollar-view properties may attract little sympathy, but in low lying-communities like Shorecrest sea level rise is also hitting middle income and poorer communities well inland, particularly along canals.
First Street Foundation hope that by revealing the extent to which climate change is doing damage now, they will spur action from those indifferent to the future. “It is one thing to project what the future impacts of sea level rise could be, but it is quite another to know that the market has already responded negatively to this threat,” said First Street's Steven McAlpine in a statement.
[H/T: Star News]