Opinion: Money talks, and says retreat from shore flooding is far off

One of the problems of a warming planet is glacial, the melting of ice that contributes to rising sea levels and flooding. The flight from that flooding at the Jersey Shore hasn’t even managed the other meaning of glacial — extremely slow.

There are many reasons for that, some of them subjective. People love to live near the ocean and back bays. They consider how much they’ve suffered so far from storms and flooding, and make a rough estimate of what they’ll experience going forward. They may have a bias in favor of doing nothing, in the absence of certainty on the magnitude and timing of future problems.

The most compelling reasons to retreat from flood-prone locations would be economic. A house, whether a primary or second home, is a big investment. But though an increase in flooding and storm damage is having some effect on the housing market and government regulation, it isn’t close to getting people to leave.

New Jersey has a Blue Acres program to buy out people whose properties are repeatedly flooded. The state has bought almost 650 homes, demolished them and barred housing from the land (as opposed to Green Acres, which buys land for preservation and recreation). But most of these repeat-flood-claim properties are along rivers in North Jersey, where the water is more a nuisance than an attraction, and property prices are correspondingly lower.

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