Earth Day is a Call to Action!

Repeating “Happy Earth Day” to family and friends today isn’t enough. The holiday is, in fact, a call to action for us all to do what we can to save the planet from climate change and pollution.

For years, Earth has been flashing a RED ALERT about global warming. Oceans, the atmosphere and the land are heating up. As a result, we’re seeing mega-droughts, hotter and longer heat waves, fierce wildfires, stronger more damaging storms, rapid snow and ice melt in Antarctica and Greenland and sea level rise flooding.

To stop global warming, we need to curtail the burning of fossil fuels — coal, oil and natural gas — that release greenhouse gases. We can all play a role by conserving energy. Here’s how:

1. Drive only when necessary, consolidate trips and share the ride.

2. Purchase the most fuel efficient vehicles we can afford and ride public transportation when available.

3. Weather-proof our homes and offices.

4. Buy energy-efficient appliances.

5. Turn off lights and electronics that aren’t in use.

6. Buy only goods we actually need.

7. Eat a more plant-based diet.

8. Vote ONLY  for candidates who are dedicated to fighting climate change.

The last point is critically important. Leaders on the federal, state and local levels are setting the policies that will (or won’t) allow us to reduce and nearly eliminate the use of fossil fuels. We need strong, motivated leaders to get the job done.

Together, we can prevent the climate change catastrophe we’re headed for if we don’t act aggressively to combat it. The time to for us all to start is NOW!

Latest UN Climate Change Report is Bad News For Real Estate Threatened by Sea Level Rise and the World in General

The Unite Nation’s climate science panel released a report this week that was bad news for real estate subject to sea level rise, wildfires, drought and other environmental threats tied to global warming.

Researchers found that humans continue to burn more and more fossil fuels, which releases ever-increasing amounts of greenhouse gases, at a time when we need to drastically reduce output. At the current rate of emissions, we’re set to blow through the 1.5 degrees Celsius temperature increase limit past reports set for this century. We’re headed for 3.2 degrees Celsius. At this point, even if nations realize their past greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, the world would still see 2.2 degrees or more of warming.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently released a report that estimated US coastal cities and towns would see an average of a foot of sea level rise between now and 2050. That estimate was based on 1.5 degrees Celsius of warming. If the globe warms much faster than that, the ocean will expand much faster and glaciers and ice sheets primarily in Greenland and Antarctica will melt faster contributing to faster and greater than predicted sea level rise.

U.S. coastal communities and private real estate owners are already spending billions of dollars to fend off sea level rise-driven floodwaters. They’re building and raising seawalls, installing pumps to remove floodwater, elevating land, homes, and government and commercial buildings, and hardening and/or elevating infrastructure, such as roads, sewer and water pipes and underground energy and communications equipment. If humans don’t drastically reduce their reliance on fossil fuels — such as coal, oil and natural gas — these projects won’t be enough. Last-resort measures such as managed retreat — property buyouts in flooded areas — will increasingly become the norm.

Faster and higher sea level rise will not only lead to more frequent tidal flooding of vulnerable coastal areas, it will also result in more powerful storm surges being driven further inland. All together, this will apply incredible pressure on the already strained insurance and mortgage markets in coastal communities.

UN report researchers say we need to cut all greenhouse gas emissions in half by the next decade. The best way to do this is by relying more heavily on renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power. Improving energy efficiency in homes and businesses and energy conservation practices also play an important role.

Fortunately, these goals are within reach. For example, the cost per unit of solar energy is 85% less than it was in 2010. The cost per unit of wind power is 55% cheaper.

The X factor in all of this is our political will and personal commitment to changing our habits to achieve these objectives. The world’s nations have been less-than-honest about the efforts and results they’ve achieved so far in the fight against climate change, global warming, and sea level rise. Not being forthright with the facts is dangerous for us all. The simple fact is when we gaslight Earth, we’re the ones who get burned. The planet’s chemistry and physics are well-established, and the its rules can’t be broken without resulting in a world that is inhospitable to human life.

UN scientists say we have a very narrow and quickly closing window of opportunity to fend off the worst case global warming scenario. Each and every one of us has a role in preventing that outcome.

New CO2 Emissions Record is Bad News for Sea Level Rise and Real Estate

A few weeks ago, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released a startling report that predicted the US coastline would see on average a foot and up to 18 inches of sea level rise by 2050. The agency said the next 50 years of potential sea level rise after that will be heavily influenced by the amount of fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — that’s burned, releasing carbon dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere and causing it to continue warming up. This week, the long-term sea level rise outlook took a turn for the worse when a report was released that said the world reached a record for CO2 emissions in 2021.

The International Energy Agency (IEA), an autonomous intergovernmental organization that helps countries shape energy policies, analyzed public and private energy and economic data to reach the conclusion that “global energy-related carbon dioxide emissions rose by 6% in 2021 to 36.3 billion tonnes, their highest ever level”. The IEA blamed the increase in CO2 emissions on the global economic recovery from the Covid-19 crisis and an increased reliance on coal when the price of natural gas spiked.

The IEA said in a press release that the “world must now ensure that the global rebound in emissions in 2021 was a one-off and that an accelerated energy transition contributes to global energy security”.

The recent NOAA report explained why reducing, not increasing, emissions is critically important to coastal communities. The report said: “About 2 feet (0.6 meters) of sea level rise along the U.S. coastline is increasingly likely between 2020 and 2100 because of emissions to date. Failing to curb future emissions could cause an additional 1.5-5 feet (0.5-1.5 meters) of rise for a total of 3.5-7 feet (1.1 – 2.1 meters) by the end of this century.”

It’s important to note here that the government researchers admitted that they’re still not exactly certain what impact sudden changes in glacial ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica could have on sea level rise in the decades to come. An ice shelf collapse that results in a sudden release of land based-glaciers into the ocean in Antarctica or a rapid acceleration in the melting of land-based snow and ice in Greenland could lead to a faster than predicted increase in sea level rise.

The bottom line here is that if humans don’t radically cut back on the release of CO2 and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, all of the sea level rise predictions could turn out to be dangerously conservative. The first one foot of human-driven sea level rise is costing coastal communities — and residential and commercial real estate owners — billions of dollars to repair flood damage and prevent additional damage. The next foot of sea level rise in the next 30 years will certainly compound the problem. Add more on top of that and a lot of coastal real estate will become uninhabitable.

When We Play Politics with Climate Change, Everyone Loses

Two years ago, the first case of Covid-19 was identified in the U.S. Since that fateful day, 860 thousand Americans have lost their lives to the virus and millions have been sickened. Unfortunately, politics played a role in many of these casualties. We can’t afford let this happen when it comes to the climate change crisis and sea level rise flooding.

At the national level, President Biden took office a year ago. One of his stated goals was to pass the Build Back Better bill, which includes $555 billion to address climate change. Included in the legislation are projects that would promote renewable energy and clean transportation to help the country dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Unfortunately, Build Back Better has been all but killed by Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, who has strong ties to his home state’s coal industry. Clearly his decision was made for his own political survival, not for the survival of the planet we all call home.

We’re seeing political shenanigans at the state level, too. In Florida, for example, Gov. Ron DeSantis has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in projects to protect real estate and critical infrastructure from sea level rise flooding. Among the projects being funded are new sea walls, pump stations, and stormwater sewers, along with the restoration of crumbling canal banks. This is good for the low-elevation state that’s extremely at-risk from global warming-fueled rising tides and more powerful hurricanes with stronger storm surges.

Unfortunately, Gov. DeSantis undermined his responsible approach to sea level rise flooding by injecting clearly partisan political venom when it came to addressing the root cause of sea level rise flooding: the burning of fossil fuels that release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

During the December news conference to announce his sea level rise infrastructure improvement initiative, the governor wouldn’t use terms like sea level rise and climate change, both of which could inflame his supporters — many of whom believe they’re hoaxes or minor problems. When a reporter asked Gov. DeSantis about global warming, he said, “What I’ve found is when people start talking about things like global warming they typically use that as a pretext to do a bunch of left-wing things that they would want to do anyways. And so we’re not doing any left-wing stuff.”

It’s pretty clear that the governor defines “left-wing stuff” as any actions that would reduce the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels.

Scientists say the only way to avoid the worst-case scenario of over eight feet of sea level rise by 2100 is to dramatically cut back on fossil fuel consumption. Gov. DeSantis’s approach to building defenses against sea level rise flooding but ignoring the root causes driving the tides ever higher, essentially dooms all of Florida’s coastal communities but especially those south of Lake Okeechobee to being potentially wiped off the map by the end of this century.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that playing politics with scientifically established facts during a global crisis is dangerous. For example, a National Public Radio analysis found that the counties that have suffered the greatest number of Covid-related deaths were those that were the most susceptible to misinformation from hyper-partisan politicians and media outlets. Basically, despite scientific evidence that vaccination saves lives, the misinformed residents chose not to get vaccinated and they paid with their lives at a number many times higher than those who got jabbed.

It has to be noted here that Gov. DeSantis has consistently downplayed the use of proven methods of reining in Covid-19 — vaccines, boosters, masks and social distancing — and pushed treatments that can be used AFTER people become infected. An LA Times analysis published during the heat of the delta outbreak late last summer, determined that his approach came at the cost of thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Taking a similar, non-scientific, politically-charged approach to climate change will have disastrous consequences for humanity today and for many generations to come. Without action to reduce the release of greenhouse gases today, we will certainly see a worsening of the droughts, wildfires, heat waves, extreme storms, and sea level rise flooding that have plagued the nation lately for decades to come.

The bottom line here is if we want to save our real estate and our way of life, we need to reach a consensus based on scientific fact, not political maneuvering, and invest in policies that will yield real results, real fast. If we don’t, we’re going to learn the hard way that when we try to gaslight the Earth, which is subject to basic laws of physics, we’re the one who will gets burned.

Fossil Fuel Emissions Behind Global Warming and Sea Level Rise Are Roaring Back

The numbers are in, and fossil fuel emissions and global warming — drivers of sea level rise flooding — continue to head in a dangerous direction. According to the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service , a non-partisan organization that tracks Earth’s temperature, 2021 was the fifth warmest year on record and the last seven years have been the warmest ever recorded. The organization also reported that the global concentration of carbon dioxide, the most plentiful greenhouse gas, continues to rise.

Adding to the troubling trend is the fact that greenhouse gas emissions rebounded at a rapid rate after the pandemic slump. The Rhodium Group released a report that found that US greenhouse gas emissions, which had been in gradual decline since about 2010, increased 6.2% in 2021. The good news, if there is any, is that 2021 levels were still 5% below those recorded in 2019.

The Rhodium group report said the switch back to coal burning for electricity — in response to high natural gas prices — was behind much of the increase in emissions. Road transportation as economic activity picked up also added to the emissions spike.

The link between fossil fuel burning, the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and the increase in temperatures on land and sea to ever-worsening sea level rise flooding, heatwaves, wildfires, drought, damaging storms and other climate calamities is well established. The setback in reducing the release of greenhouse gas emissions is stalling US efforts to combat global warming as is the inability of Congress to pass President Biden’s Build Back Better Act, which includes a $555 billion investment in renewable energy, electric cars and other measures. The critical bill is largely being held back by Joe Manchin a Democratic Senator from the coal state of West Virginia.

The US, of course, isn’t the only country contributing to Earth’s greenhouse gas load. China and India, which together account for two-thirds of global coal consumption according to the International Energy Agency (IEA), show no signs of slowing down. To make matters worse, both countries insisted that last year’s United Nation’s Climate Change water-down language regarding coal consumption. They would only agree to a “phase-down” in the use of coal instead of an accelerated “phase-out”.

Our home planet, of course, was not given a seat in the negotiations, but it is, nonetheless, speaking loud and clear. Through the rapid upward trend in climate catastrophes it’s telling us: Try to gaslight Earth, get burned.

Real estate buyers, sellers, owners and agents in coastal communities who are counting on rational environmental policy changes to protect their investments and livelihoods need to get involved and vote for candidates dedicated to a rapid reduction in the use of fossil fuels, like coal and oil, to turn this thing around.

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