Coastal Communities, Watch Out: Sea Level Rise Threatens Your Homes

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A street near the beach in Manasquan N.J. is covered with flood waters on Wednesday March. 21, 2018, during a coastal storm. (Wayne Parry/AP)
A street near the beach in Manasquan N.J. is covered with flood waters on Wednesday March. 21, 2018, during a coastal storm. (Wayne Parry/AP)

With Anthony Brooks

Rising seas threaten hundreds of thousands of homes along the U.S. coasts, putting at risk a lot more than real estate.


Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and policy director with the Climate and Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Susannah Drake, founding principal of DLANDstudio, an urban design firm that specializes in the challenges created by climate change. (@schurchilld)

Jonathan Forét, resident of Chauvin, Louisiana who has watched his community struggle with more and more chronic flooding. Executive director of the South Louisiana Wetlands Discovery Center.

From The Reading List:

Union Of Concerned Scientists: "Underwater: Rising Seas, Chronic Floods, and the Implications for US Coastal Real Estate (2018)" — "Sea levels are rising. Tides are inching higher. High-tide floods are becoming more frequent and reaching farther inland. And hundreds of US coastal communities will soon face chronic, disruptive flooding that directly affects people's homes, lives, and properties.

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

This analysis looks at what's at risk for US coastal real estate from sea level rise—and the challenges and choices we face now and in the decades to come."

ABC News: "Almost $118 billion worth of US homes threatened by rising sea levels: Report" — "A report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists has found that nearly 311,000 coastal homes, worth $117.5 billion, are at risk of chronic flooding due to sea-level rise over the next 30 years.

The advocacy group says rising sea levels are a result of climate change as fossil-fuel emissions warm the climate and melt ice caps.

UCS determined these numbers by using government data and data and from the online real estate company Zillow. Three sea-level rise scenarios were devised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After analysis, the group is able to predict that the states with the most homes at high-risk for flooding include Florida, with nearly 1 million homes, New Jersey, with 250,000 homes, and New York with 143,000 homes.

UCS reports damage from rising sea levels could have 'staggering economic impacts.' Homeowners may see property values decline, physical damage to property structures or have to pay more for insurance."

Along 13,000 miles of coastline in the lower 48 states, hundreds of thousands of buildings lie in the path of rising seas. A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists warns that two-and-a-half million schools, hospitals, factories, churches homes and businesses could be underwater by the end of the century. But most homeowners, communities and investors are unaware and unprepared.

This hour, On Point: the staggering economic impact of rising seas.

- Anthony Brooks

This program aired on June 21, 2018.


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