Some leaders, almost exclusively conservatives, in the federal government call it a hoax or fake news. They refuse to acknowledge its existence and eliminate personnel and programs that could provide an effective response. When they should be mounting an effective response, they avert their eyes. Meanwhile, the problem grows worse each and every day.
This narrative is as true for the coronavirus, a threat that’s growing exponentially, as it is for climate change and sea level rise that, too, are growing worse each and every day. Both pose a real and present danger to public health and the economy. And both can only be brought under control by leaders who listen to scientists and implement plans based on their counsel.
The unfortunate thing in both cases, is that while the denialists and their supporters don’t take the problems seriously — and often obstruct and undermine those who do — for their selfish political and financial gains, the virus and the ever-warming planet continue to pose threats to life and property.
There is no mistaking that the failures that set back an effective, fact-based response to coronavirus, with costs that are playing out before our own eyes, are the same ones that are going to eventually catch up to us in climate change and sea level rise.
In the case of climate change and sea level rise, scientists are sounding a blaring warning alarm as is the planet. On a global basis, humanity is continually setting records for the burning of the fossil fuels that cause global warming, which in turns melts land-based ice and snow and causes the oceans to expand. The planet is responding by continuously breaking temperature records on land and sea and by increasing the frequency and intensity of weather disasters, such as droughts, floods and hurricanes. Many communities are also already being forced to make hard decisions as sea levels rise floods valuable real estate.
The lack of responsible and effective federal leadership that respects scientific facts is forcing state and local governments to draft and implement their own solutions. Just as in the case of coronavirus, the lack of federal leadership and the reliance on a patchwork response, puts everyone at-risk.
The lesson to be learned from coronavirus is that the world cannot afford national leaders who deny basic science. They put our lives, our livelihoods, our financial futures, and, ultimately, the only planet we’ll ever know at risk of total destruction. In the real estate world, we’re already seeing climate change and sea level rise flooding putting enormous stress on the flood insurance system, which could cause it to fail — an eventuality that would lock up the mortgage market and cause real estate values to plummet.
Unless we shove aside the climate change and sea level rise denialists and mount an aggressive national response to the roots of the problems now, the markets will most certainly start to collapse. The damage is sure to be much worse and longer-lasting than the damage now being inflicted by coronavirus.