1 million Florida homes at risk of chronic floods by 2100: UCS study

chronic flood risk via Union of Concerned Scientists report on sea-level rise
Sea-level graphic from Union of Concerned Scientists.

A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists says “within the next 30 years, roughly 64,000 homes in Florida … will be at risk” of chronic floods from sea-level rise. On WMNF’s MidPoint we spoke about this report with UCS senior climate scientist, Kristy Dahl, and with Susan Glickman, who is working to create a regional West Coast Climate Compact. She’s the Florida director, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. The report is called, Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018).

Here are some quotes from the report:

“As sea levels rise, persistent high-tide flooding of homes, yards, roads, and business districts will begin to render properties effectively unlivable, and neighborhoods — even whole communities — financially unattractive and potentially unviable.”

“Yet property values in most coastal real estate markets do not currently reflect that risk. And most homeowners, communities, and investors are not aware of the financial losses they may soon face.”

“In the coming decades, the consequences of rising seas will strain many coastal real estate markets — abruptly or gradually, but some eventually to the point of collapse — with potential reverberations throughout the national economy. … these are not devaluations from which damaged real estate markets will recover.”

This study “estimates the number of homes and commercial properties … that will be put at risk from chronic, disruptive flooding [26x/yr or more]”

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“300,000 of today’s homes and commercial properties in the contiguous United States [are] at risk of chronic disruptive flooding within the next 30 years.” by 2045 = $136 billion.

“by the end of the 21st century nearly 2.5 million residential and commercial properties, collectively valued at $1.07 trillion today, will be at risk of chronic flooding.” That’s 4.7 million people.

“for the most part, financial markets do not currently account for these risks.” even though “experts in risk assessment, credit ratings, real estate markets, insurance markets, and flood policy”

“In many cases, the risks are masked by short-sighted government policies, market incentives, and public and private investments that prop up business-as-usual choices and fail to account for sea level rise.”

“results are based on the high sea level rise scenario [developed for the 2014 National Climate Assessment], a scenario that results in 6.6 feet of global sea level rise by 2100.”

“within the next 15 years roughly 147,000 existing homes and 7,000 commercial properties — currently worth $63 billion — are at risk of being inundated an average of 26 times per year … About 280,000 people” live in those homes.

“Within the next 30 years, roughly 64,000 homes in Florida … will be at risk of chronic flooding.”

“In Florida, the number of today’s homes that are at risk from sea level rise balloons to more than 1 million by 2100, reflecting the scale of existing development in Florida’s low-lying inland regions.”

“the Miami area, the Florida Keys, and Tampa-St. Petersburg stand out as being the most highly exposed within the next 30 years.”


We also asked Kristy Dahl about something not directly related to this report. It’s based on a statement released by Andrew Rosenberg of the UCS Sunday, which criticized a NOAA official. At a Department of Commerce summit last week, the acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, proposed a new mission statement for the agency—one that would undermine the agency’s vital work on behalf of the American people. It removes “climate” from NOAA’s mission. It also added to the mission, to “empower the economy, and support homeland and national security.”

At the beginning of the show we heard comments left by listeners after a previous show. There was a spirited conversation about gun violence. We had guests from Moms Demand Action after the latest mass school shooting, this one in Santa Fe, Texas.

Here’s the interactive map; you can see it broken down by zip code or by community.

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