Humans are genetically engineered to respond to immediate threats such as running away as fast as we can from someone trying to harm us. However, we are almost incapable of recognizing and responding to long term threats such as climate caused rising sea levels or multiple hurricane caused massive flooding. Just remember what happened when people chose to not evacuate their homes when warned about Katrina or Superstorm Sandy.
Scientists are now predicting, based upon the newly released study in Nature and Climate Change authored by demographer Mathew Haver from the University of Georgia and the well known climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Kevin Trenberth, that the oceans will rise 3-6 feet by the end of this century. When and if this happens, “…over $1 Trillion worth of wealth in coastal real estate will be wiped out.”
Today, we don’t have to wait for predictions. “Tidal flooding now…drenches inland streets, even when the sun is out, thanks to the region’s limestone bedrock,” reports Bloomberg News on the South Florida real estate market. “Saltwater is already creeping into the drinking water supply.” Sean Beckett, chief economist for Freddie Mac, tells us that this year the housing crisis for coastal areas is so severe that “…some lenders are already declining to offer 30 year conventional mortgages on South Florida properties…and this time, there is no hope that property values will come back.”
The Nature and Climate Change study also predicts that the melting ice sheets in both Greenland and the Arctic and the melting permafrost in Siberia will create thirteen million climate refugees in this country alone by the end of the century. People leaving coastal areas will most likely go to landlocked areas like Atlanta, Houston, Phoenix, Orlando and Austin. What this means when these climate refugees are forced to move is “…really where the rubber hits the road when it comes to climate change and…when people are competing with native inhabitants for the same water, food and land…” says Dr. Michael Mann, a climate scientist from Penn State University.
No wonder the U.S. Military calls climate change a matter of “vital national security.” As challenging as these issues are for America, climate change ramifications have much worse consequences for countries around the world that lack the financial resources to adapt to the stress of migration and property sinkage.