Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Coastal Cost Complications

Florida lenders are thinking about eliminating the 30-year mortgage for coastal properties. 15-year debt seems more prudent. Their fear, using government statistics and analyses, is that if the expected storm surges and flooding of low-lying coastline arrive as expected, somewhere approaching that 30-year term, people will just walk away from loans with recourse solely against the property (and the borrower’s other assets or income)… leaving the banks with famous “Florida underwater land.” And as polar and glacial ice continues to melt, measurements seem to sustain the government’s projections rather completely.
While GOP-presidential presumed nominee Donald “Trump currently dismisses climate change as a hoax invented by China… he has quietly sought to shield real estate investments in Ireland from its effects.
“But at the Republican presidential contender’s Palm Beach estate and the other properties that bear his name in south Florida, the water is already creeping up bridges and advancing on access roads, lawns and beaches because of sea-level rise, according to a risk analysis prepared for the Guardian.
“In 30 years, the grounds of [Trump’s Palm Beach Mar-a-Lago hotel and resort pictured above] could be under at least a foot of water for 210 days a year because of tidal flooding along the intracoastal water way, with the water rising past some of the cottages and bungalows, the analysis by Coastal Risk Consulting found.
“Trump’s insouciance in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change – even lapping up on his own doorstep – makes him something of an outlier in south Florida, where mayors are actively preparing for a future under climate change.
“Trump, who backed climate action in 2009 but now describes climate change as ‘bullshit,’ is also out of step with the US and other governments’ efforts to turn emissions-cutting pledges into concrete actions in the wake of the Paris climate agreement. Trump has threatened to pull the US out of the agreement…
“King Tides, the extreme high tides of the autumn, are a growing nuisance in Miami and other areas of south Florida – and are creeping up the manicured lawns of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago from the intracoastal waterway, according to [Coastal Risk Consulting] analysis.
“Parts of the estate are already at high risk of flooding under heavy rains and storms, the analysis found. By 2045, the storm surge from even a category two storm would bring waters crashing over the main swimming pool and up to the main building, the analysis found.” The Guardian (UK), July 6th.
Elsewhere, in upscale land, folks are coping with the coast erosion that has already occurred. Like at New England’s famous Cape Cod beaches. “Some come for a quick swim, others to watch the sublime sunsets, famous in New England because the beach faces west, not east.
“But there is a problem, evident in the chunks of asphalt lying on the sand and the deep fissures in the lot, parts of which are so damaged that they are off limits to parking: The beach is eroding, and parts of this beloved spot, built in front of the dunes, not behind them, are slowly crumbling into the ocean…
“‘It’s a nightmare,’ said Mary-Jo Avellar, 70, the town moderator and a pastry chef, who was sitting on the sand with a crossword puzzle on a recent sunny afternoon, gesturing to several feet of exposed revetment between the flat surface of the parking lot and the sand below. ‘This beach used to be pretty flat. It’s been scoured out.’
“The result here at the Cape Cod National Seashore raises a practical dilemma in a setting meant to be a place to escape: how to react to rising seas and eroding coastlines as climate change looms for coastal communities across the nation. The decision here was to demolish the parking lot and construct a new one 125 feet behind it, allowing for a restored shoreline in front of it.
“‘We’re retreating,’ said George E. Price Jr., the superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is run by the National Park Service. Other facilities at the beach have already been rebuilt farther back from the water.” New York Times, July 6th.
It’s not all bad news on the environmental front, but the changes we are seeing will have little impact on rising seas. We need to do so much more. “The Antarctic ozone hole reached a peak size in 2000, but since then scientists have been observing a slowing of the rate of ozone depletion. By 2014, scientists were reporting that the size of the ozone hole was stabilizing. This new study is the first to show an actual increase in ozone levels over the Antarctic…
“‘Healing will be a long process, but it’s encouraging to see evidence that it has begun,’ says Sue Schauffler, an atmospheric chemist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, in Boulder, Colorado.” (Chemical and Engineering News), July 4th. Still, communities across the United States are looking at their options given what has become obvious to most of us.
“In many parts of the country, like New York, New Jersey and New Orleans, property-damaging storms, tidal surges and floods have been met with the urge to shore up and rebuild. Experts say the project at Herring Cove is a fairly rare example of the opposite approach, called ‘managed retreat,’ which involves moving away from the coastline. Mr. Price and many who use the beach here do not want to fight coastal change; they simply want to adapt to it.
“‘It reflects a sound planning approach that is regrettably uncommon so far,’ said Michael B. Gerrard, a professor at Columbia Law School and the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law there… ‘As sea-level rise advances,’ Mr. Gerrard added, the concept of managed retreat is ‘going to become increasingly important in large parts of the country.’” NY Times. In the end, nature really doesn’t care if we deny man-induced climate change or not. That we take steps to contain the damage and steadily reduce the greenhouse effect or not. Nature has seen worse over the millennia. Humanity has not.
I’m Peter Dekom, and that the staggering mega-trillion-dollar hard costs that will consume humanity can be denied upon a deeply misguided reference to God still amazes me.

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