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

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A new report recently released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, a non-profit science advocacy organization, along with housing data compiled from Zillow and a high sea level rise flood model from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says sea level rise is expected to threaten more than 300,000 coastal homes across the country, reported The Guardian.

According to experts, greenhouse gas emissions and ice melts are causing rising oceans that will eventually flood residences in the next 30 years and cause a decline in property and real estate values.

Florida is topping the list as the most at-risk state with nearly 64,000 homes facing flooding every other day by 2045. Half of those homes are in southern Florida alone, especially Miami Beach, and would total an estimated $351 billion loss in property values.

New York and New Jersey’s beach towns are also vulnerable, and according to the study, approximately 62,000 homes in New Jersey will also face repeated flooding with at least 1,500 at-risk homes by 2045. Ocean City tops the list with more than 7,200 at-risk homes. In total, New York and New Jersey could lose nearly 400,000 homes and more than $200 billion in property value.

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“The impact could well be staggering,” said Kristina Dahl, climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “This level of flooding would be a tipping point where people in these communities would think it’s unsustainable. Even homes along the Gulf Coast that are elevated would be affected, as they’d have to drive through saltwater to get to work or face their kids’ school being cut off. You can imagine people walking away from mortgages, away from their homes.”

Across the country, the coastal U.S. could lose up to 2.5 million homes and businesses, totaling $1 trillion by the end of the century, according to the report, and are unlikely to recover because of significant damage or complete inundation. Many residents will have to relocate their lives to other cities and states or not move to these areas at all, increasing demand for landlocked states.

Communities and investors are also looking into their options.

“Sophisticated companies looking to invest are already considering sea level rise in their investment formula,” said South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard.

As the Miami Herald reported, many communities have already begun to take action. For example, Miami Beach raised its stormwater fees to fund a necessary $500 million in street raising and pump installation projects. Additionally, the report referenced the city’s “Forever Bond” that showcased how the community is taxing itself to pay for these projects. Flood insurance has also increased.

“Unfortunately, in the years ahead, many coastal communities will face declining property values as risk perceptions catch up with reality,” said the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Rachel Cleetus. Cleetus is an economist and policy director for the group’s Climate and Energy Program.

“In contrast with previous housing market crashes, values of properties chronically inundated due to sea level rise are unlikely to recover and will only continue to go further underwater, literally and figuratively,” said Cleetus.

According to The Guardian, fossil fuels caused by humans are the main ingredient for the rising oceans, approximately 3 millimeters a year. The glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland are also melting and contributing to higher seas with 241 billion tons a year.

There is much to be done to help Mother Nature and prevent these floods before coastline damage becomes a constant threat across the country. We can start by doing our part – helping to reduce fossil fuel emissions.