Coastwide
A storm-damaged house at a busted levy on the beach after Hurricane Ida on Sept. 4, 2021 in Grand Isle, La.Sean Rayford / Getty Images file

USA - Climate change could wipe $108 billion from U.S. property market, study finds

Losing such a huge amount of private land over a few years could have far-reaching consequences, including threatening local economies.

Sea level rise will flood huge swaths of the country and submerge billions of dollars’ worth of land, according to a new report.

An analysis from Climate Central, a nonprofit research group, put a price tag on just how much all that land is worth — and how much local governments stand to lose when it goes underwater. The report found that nearly 650,000 privately owned parcels of land over more than 4 million acres will fall below tide lines within the next 30 years. The analysis indicates that sea level rise could reduce the value of that private land by more than $108 billion by the end of the century.  

Because all land below the tide line is, by law, state-owned, the encroachment of the tides could essentially vaporize huge amounts of private, taxable wealth. That, in turn, will decrease property tax revenue substantially in coastal areas, which experts caution could ultimately bankrupt local governments.

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Read also

Rising sea levels threaten homes, communities along NC shorelines, StarNewsOnline.com / September 20, 2022

‘Inundation by salt water’: Maps show threat to Inverloch beachside properties, The Age / September 19, 2022

International team of scientists find many coastal cities worldwide vulnerable to sea level rise due to rapid land sinking, UNM Newsroom / September 20, 2022

South-east Asian coastal cities sinking fastest, could worsen impacts of sea level rise: Study, The Straits Times / September 20, 2022
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For millennia, tide lines haven’t really budged. Nor has the notion that any land under water is public, which is an “idea that goes way back to Roman times,” said Peter Byrne, the director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Program. “The tidelands, the sea, they’re open to the public because they’re navigable. They’re inherently public.”

But as the planet heats, the old tide lines are climbing uphill. The study found that an area the size of the state of New Jersey that is now above water will be submerged at high tide in 2050.

“Sea level rise is ultimately going to take land away from people,” said Don Bain, a senior adviser with Climate Central, who wrote the report. “That’s something we haven’t come to grips with.”

Losing such a huge amount of private land over a few years could have far-reaching consequences. Insurance companies have already started to pull out of coastal markets or are raising their premiums substantially. Banks and other financial institutions are starting to look at whether it makes sense to lend to homeowners and businesses along the coastline.

All told, places that are currently livable will become increasingly hard to live in. Here’s what this might mean for local governments.

Risk isn’t evenly distributed

Climate Central found that, unsurprisingly, the effects of sea level rise aren’t evenly distributed across the U.S. The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts will feel its effects more than other parts of the country. In many areas along the coast, sea levels will rise significantly faster because land is sinking as sea levels rise.

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