Coastal collaborations

One good, one bad. One founded on truth, one founded to perpetuate a lie. Two recent articles in The Charlotte Observer shed a spotlight on the coastal threat of man-influenced climate change and these two collaborations.

First, the bad. North Carolina realtors who sell coastal properties have banded together to fight those who want to plan for climate change induced sea rise. They have successfully lobbied the passage of a law in the General Assembly that repeals the requirement that builders reflect the impact of climate change on their structures and placement.

This adversarial relationship with science has followed a history of the GOP led General Assembly toward climate change. The more memorable moment was the General Assembly’s refusal to accept a peer reviewed scientific report that said sea levels would rise by 39 inches by the end of the century, accepting one that looked backwards limiting the increase to 8 inches. The former report had been accepted by Virginia and Louisiana. Stephen Colbert ridiculed the NCGA on one of his shows for the absurdity in NC.

Realtors are supposed to tell the truth, although there are some who embellish too much. Yet, to try to hold back the ocean with paperwork is not good business. When leaders hide the truth, people suffer. I encourage buyers to do research with reputable sources, including their ability to insure their potential properties. Owners on NC’s Bald Head Island realized the hard way what happens when property is built too close and without buffers.

Now, the good. In response to an executive order by the current White House incumbent to do seismic testing in advance of offshore oil development off our Atlantic Coast, a building bipartisan coalition has formed. Six coastal states’ governors (two Republican) have joined with numerous mayors and business people to fight this oil exploration.

They estimate the coastal tourism business is about $95 Billion per year. Then, there is the fishing industry which is exposed. And, we should not lose sight of homebuyers who want to retire or have property near the ocean. It should be noted that the Florida and Georgia governors are silent on these issues, which is viewed as a positive by this group.

Climate change is a real threat that is no longer futuristic. Miami is the most at risk city in the world in terms of assets and sees daily flooding even without hurricanes. The latter are now more severe Β in strength, while droughts and forest fires are more in number and extremity. These are predicted in climate change models.

I am disappointed in these coastal realtors, the NC General Assembly and the White House. Ignoring scientific experts on this topic puts people in harm’s way. We must plan accordingly. I praise highly the courage and wisdom of these governors, mayors and business people. They see climate change as a threat and offshore fossil fuel development as a risk.

28 thoughts on “Coastal collaborations

  1. Again and again we see how profits determine policy It’s not that off-shore drilling could turn out to be an environmental disaster, it’s because it would interfere with tourism and fishing that opposition among the six politicians arose. Sad, but any port in a storm, I suppose.

    • Hugh, the reason I like this is the argument is typically made that it’s jobs versus the environment. I am a tree hugger and a capitalist, so I believe this argument needs to be turned on its head. Coal jobs are declining due to market forces and wind and solar jobs are growing double digits. Now the coastal communities are making a stand. It would be interesting to see what the realtors say about offshore oil exploration.

      If I owned coastal property, I would be considering selling. Buying might increasingly become a fool’s errand. Keith

  2. As I read this an image came into my head of a combination of evangelic preachers, Talk show hosts, Whitehouse staffers, and lobbyists assembling on the seashore waving an executive that insists the waves go back.
    Then the tide comes in.

  3. Dear Keith,
    We are dealing with the same issues in Florida. But After the Hurricane Harvey and Irma visits, Florida Democratic are making dealing with “climate change” issues a top priority. At this point in time, the denial of climate change is not a winning proposition in Florida.

    Hugs, Gronda

    • Gronda, while Rick Scott should be commended this far for his handling of Hurricane Irma, his stances against climate change have put many Floridians in harm’s way. I am glad that more Floridians are paying attention. They need to. Hopefully, the rebuilding will be reflective of handling sea rise and flooding. Keith

    • Janis, the toll of doing nothing is high. Most of the world lives in coastal areas, so significant assets and people are at risk. The Dutch are teaching many about dealing with living beneath sea level. Keith

  4. I have come to the conclusion that we need to drop all reference to terms that allude to climate change, man caused or otherwise. The words have become an insurmountable and expensive wall that impedes understanding and action. The planet is suffering from deeper oceans. Land surfaces around the globe are being swallowed by water. Places that were once idyllic habitats have become increasingly dangerous and ugly places to live. The cause of this dilemma is far less important that figuring out how to deal with it.

    FEMA is costing Americans huge, very huge, bigly amounts of tax dollars. What if we were to redline certain hazard prone areas, be they beaches or mountain paradises, and assert that FEMA will under no circumstances pay for damage to newly constructed property within these redlines?

    • Linda, let me separate my response in two areas of your comment. There are a couple of conservative groups that speak to using more renewable energy. They don’t actively speak of climate change and focus on clean energy. I also think we can focus on this as a fresh water issue, as renewables need not use water to create energy.

      As for paying for rebuilding, I think a legitimate focus is to only pay for agreed upon construction that lessens hurricane, flooding and sea rise impact. Same goes for rebuilding after forest fires. Keith

      • And it’s a growing ocean, diminishing land issue…which impacts coastal living Americans.

        Despite the threat of fire, western communities continue to expand into mountainous, forest regions. In my opinion, any new construction going into those very fire prone areas should not be insurable by private industry OR by FEMA. The upfront risk should be part of the purchase agreements. You live in the hot zone, you lose in the hot zone and nobody is going to bail you out after your home goes up in flames. I probably don’t have as clear an understanding about beach front communities, but I don’t understand why similar restrictions shouldn’t be put in place for those, too.

      • Linda, I read today that coastal population growth continues. I understand the allure, but people need to start asking more questions. Keith

  5. Note to Readers: If you want an even more financial take on the impact of climate change, click on the referred to reading below this post called “Climate Change and your Money.” This 2010 Study by Mercer Investment Consulting and the largest global pension scheme sponsors speaks to the estimated impact of climate change on investments, infrastructure, etc. The cost of not acting are beyond the pale in terms of multiple tens of trillions of dollars. Keith

  6. It has been my experience that realtors are about as trustworthy as used car salesmen and snake oil salesmen. That said, yes, they should be honest, but …

    I am with Hugh in that it is too bad people, as a whole, seem to be so self-absorbed and short-sighted that the only way to make them sit up and take climate change seriously is to put it in terms of their wallets. But, trying to change human nature is about as much a winning proposition as is trying to turn back the tides by pointing fans toward the shore. So … whatever works. Perhaps we should send Katharine Hayhoe from Gronda’s post to speak at the next North Carolina Realtor’s Convention!

    • Jill, I know some very good realtors and some who resemble what you describe. We need truth from more people than we are getting. It greatly disturbs more than a few that our White House incumbent is so untrustworthy. Ironically his fans are seeing it first hand in how he sides with anyone who may make him look good. He is reconsidering the Paris deal, I believe, because he is being rightfully criticized around the globe and here.

      Thanks for your comment, Keith

      • Yes, realtors are no different than anybody else … accountants, lawyers, or grocers … there will always be some that are shady and give the rest a bad name. My own dealings with realtors have been minimal, and less than positive. But to your point, yes, more reliable, truthful information is needed, and people in general need to be willing to listen with an open mind. That seems to be rare these days.

        As for Trump’s seesawing on the Paris Accords … you give him more credit than I do. But then … you are nicer than I am πŸ˜‰ I suspect an ulterior motive, though I cannot yet put my finger on it. Sigh … I have just become very untrusting of anything he says or does.

      • Jill, let’s hope we remain in the Paris accord. I don’t believe a word the President says, so I will believe it when I see it. Keith

    • JoAnn, you would think that would be the case. Without more action, the sea will claim more homes. I remember the marvelous house in the Diane Lane/ Richard Gere movie “Nights in Rodanthe.” The house was built on the beach and you just knew it could not survive. It did not.

      I mention Bald Head Island. So many houses have been consumed, people can only insure 1/2 the value if at all for coastal properties. Keith

  7. You are staying really busy slaying the dragons and sorting through info and sharing it with us. Thank you so much; I continue to load pages and then read them offline….. there are a few things happening right now that involves more research, but you and Hugh are both helpful with summaries.

    A few days ago this Coehlo post came through, and I thought of you and your humor – perhaps it will give you the chuckle that it gave me!


      • Lisa, I think we are deck people, since we have no front porch. We shelled some peas, but not very often. Front porches made better neighbors. There is an old book called “Little Clifford and the Porch People.” It talks about how little Clifford had to accompany his father to go get ice cream, but they stopped at every porch to say hello. Keith

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