Saturday, December 02, 2006

 

Extra, Extra: Water raises risks of floods

A few days ago, I wondered if Global Warming was replacing George Allen as the Washington Post’s pet cause. Well, I’ve stopped wondering: A Dream Blown Away

A place near the water has been an American dream for a very long time. Fifty-four percent of Americans live within 50 miles of a coast.

This is the year, however, in which the big boys in global finance got religion about climate change. As a result, this American dream -- as far north as the Washington area, and even New York and New England -- is under attack.”

We then read the heart-tugging story of a couple who recently left Silver Spring Maryland for a retirement home in NC.

It's a big place -- eight bedrooms, nine baths, three stories, 5,000 square feet, heated pool, kiddie pool, wild horses out back, dolphins out front. "It sits like a palace in the sky," Peg says. The front door is 12 feet above sea level. They figured on selling it for $2 million. The proceeds would pay for the rest of their lives.”

Unfortunately:

“Now they're wondering if they will ever be able to sell it. The map of their part of Carova Beach has been redrawn as a high-risk flood area by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. As a result, it may not be possible for any new buyer to get a mortgage.”

A little history, courtesy of FEMA itself:


“In 1968, flood insurance coverage was virtually unavailable in the private sector. The private insurance industry was then, and remains now, largely unwilling to underwrite and bear the risk of flood because of its catastrophic nature. Consequently, Congress decided to provide coverage through a Federal flood insurance program to help reduce the costs of expensive disaster relief payments.” FEMA - National Flood Insurance Program


In other words, when disaster hit, the Federal government would step in and provide disaster relief. But after awhile you get tired of bailing out people who live in harm’s way. You reasonably start expecting them to undertake the costs themselves. Hence, mandatory flood insurance. (Of course, you could just have the government NOT step in: essentially telling those beachfront property owners that they’ve assumed the risk. But I’m guessing that‘s not politically viable)

But the market was telling us all something back in 1968 when it didn’t make available much flood insurance. The price the industry had to charge for them to be willing to assume the risk was beyond what most people wanted to pay. The federal program changed all that so that a big reason we have so much at-risk property now is that flood insurance, partially subsidized by the federal government is cheaper than it should be. A give-away to the rich, if you will. Flood Insurance for Dummies


“So far, climate change has shaken the market most notably in high-value coastal areas. But if weather losses get worse, upheaval will become more common.”

Climate change? The author links all these problems to this nebulous "climate change" without actually, you know, linking them. Where is the evidence that hurricanes and climate change are related? In the aftermath of 2005’s season, NOAA predicted bad things for the US: eight -10 hurricanes. Result: Not One Hurricane Strikes United States Most of the time the Rich are the bogeyman of policy discussions but since in this instance the Post is advancing the hysteria of Climate Change, I guess even the Rich get a free ride.


A few things to keep at the forefront of all this:

1) The only thing that changed at Peg’s NC home was its change of designation into a high flood risk area. There wasn’t any actual flooding, the government simply got antsy after the 2005 hurricanes and got more property into the flood insurance program.

2) Hurricanes happen…they even happened before George Bush became president.

“The specter looms of the big hurricanes of 1938 and 1954. Those Category 3 hurricanes devastated New England. Storm surges of 13 and 12 feet, respectively, swept through Providence, R.I. Historic markers demonstrate how high the water rose downtown. They are over your head. Photos show seas crashing over the top of a harbor lighthouse. It is 70 feet tall. Beach homes were swept out to sea.”

3) But if this really is all about global warming (or whatever they’re calling it now), I continue to blame John Kerry: usnews.com: Washington Whispers: May 2004 (3rd Item)


Comments:
For the record, the article in question here does not refer to global warming at all other than to report that the insurance industry doesn't care if its weather losses are going up because of carbon dioxide, fluctuations in the Atlantic, or the huffing and puffing of the Big Bad Wolf.

It reports that 2006 was the year the insurance company got religion about climate change.

Climate change and global warming are not necessarily the same thing.

Joel Garreau
 
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