Published: Thu, June 21, 2018
Science | By Joan Schultz

New Report Shows Sea-Level Rise May Threaten 300,000 U.S. Homes

New Report Shows Sea-Level Rise May Threaten 300,000 U.S. Homes

Roughly 64,000 homes in Florida are at risk of chronic flooding within the next 30 years, if current sea level rise trends continue, according to a new study published by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

In Florida alone, the "homes at risk by 2100 now contribute roughly $5 billion collectively in annual property tax revenue", said the report. Low-lying states would be particularly prone, with a million homes in Florida, 250,000 homes in New Jersey and 143,000 homes in NY at risk of chronic flooding by 2100.

The report estimates almost 175 communities could expect to see 10 percent or more of their homes at risk of chronic flooding by 2045, with almost 60 of those communities experiencing poverty levels above the national average. They also predicted that the constant flooding could last 30 years. If carbon emissions and rapid ice sheet loss are not curtailed, chronic flooding will render these homes and businesses unusable by 2045, the study says. She also said that coastal real estate markets were not now factoring in flood risks on properties.

Using three scenarios developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the UCS estimated the number of properties in the 48 mainland states that could be affected by high tides and regular flooding, not counting major storms. This will potentially inflict a huge financial and emotional toll on the half a million Americans who live in the properties at risk of having their basements, backyards, garages or living rooms inundated every other week.

Home prices are on the rise along Florida's sunny coastlines, as developers add more complexes.

Hurricane Sandy flooded the New Jersey shoreline in 2012.

The Maryland homes at risk in 2045 now contribute about $31 million in annual property tax revenue.

Of the 175 at-risk communities, almost 40 percent have poverty levels above the national average. Today those homes are worth a collective $566,622,000; they house an estimated 2,686 people; and they contribute $7,975,225 to the local property tax base, according to the report. They also pointed out that the vegetable supply could shrink by a third in 2050 if people do not do something about climate change. Lenders carrying large numbers of these risky mortgages could lose money or even become insolvent, with smaller banks concentrated in areas with high flood risk being especially exposed.

'The impact could well be staggering, ' said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) told The Guardian.

About 175 communities nationwide can expect significant chronic flooding by 2045, threatening 10 percent or more of their housing stock. We can start by doing our part - helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions. The market's bias toward short-term decision-making and profits can also perpetuate risky development and investment choices. These flawed policies and incentives include inaccurate flood risk information, subsidized insurance, lax zoning and building codes, incentives for business-as-usual building and re-building, and incomplete credit ratings.

That that could mean big economic changes for coastal residents and communities, the report warns.

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