27 July 2020

Popula: “Heaven or High Water”

The sea level in Miami has risen ten inches since 1900; in the 2000 years prior, it did not really change. The consensus among informed observers is that the sea will rise in Miami Beach somewhere between 13 and 34 inches by 2050. By 2100, it is extremely likely to be closer to six feet, which means, unless you own a yacht and a helicopter, sayonara. Sunset Harbour is expected to fare slightly worse, and to do so more quickly.

Thus, I felt the Sunset Harbour area was a good place to start pretending to buy a home here. Amazingly, in the face of these incontrovertible facts about the climate the business of luxury real estate is chugging along just fine, and I wanted to see the cognitive dissonance up close.

I did not say this; I said nothing, because I did not have to, because—fiddling attractively with a circular gold pendant at her tan throat all the while—she continued to talk. The scientists, economists, and environmentalists that are saying this stuff, they don’t realize what a wealthy area this is. She said that she lived here and wasn’t leaving, and that the people selling Miami were confident, and all working on the same goal as a community to maintain this place, with the pumps and the zoning and raising the streets. There were just too many millionaires and billionaires here for a disaster on a great scale to be allowed to take place.

Sarah Miller

Insightful story about the prevailing attitude in Miami regarding climate change and the likely sea rise in the area. The same reckless arguments and viewpoints have stalled the response to the coronavirus pandemic: ‘it won’t happen here in the US’; ‘someone will find a solution before things get really bad’; ‘scientists are too alarmist’. And we already know how well that turned out for Florida

Miami may be underwater by 2100

Update: according to a recent analysis in The New York Times, the threat of rising seas is starting to have a noticeable impact on the housing market in Florida:

With single-family homes selling for an average of $3.6 million, Bal Harbour epitomizes high-end Florida waterfront property. But around 2013, something started to change: The annual number of homes sales began to drop — tumbling by half by 2018 — a sign that fewer people wanted to buy.

Prices eventually followed, falling 7.6 percent from 2016 to 2020, according to data from Zillow, the real estate data company.

All across Florida’s low-lying areas, it’s a similar story, according to research published Monday. The authors argue that not only is climate change eroding one of the most vibrant real estate markets in the country, it has quietly been doing so for nearly a decade.

Christopher Flavelle

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