A Massive Problem May Loom for Our Homes

'Economist' reports that a tenth of the world's residential property is under threat to climate change
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2024 7:00 AM CDT
A Massive Problem May Loom for Our Homes
A small tractor clears water from a business as floodwaters block a street in Barre, Vt., in 2023.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

The Economist is sounding the alarm about what it sees as the "next housing crisis," and it doesn't involve mortgage rates or boom-and-bust cycles. Instead, it involves climate change. The cover story asserts "that a tenth of the world's residential property by value is under threat from global warming—including many houses that are nowhere near the coast." And the big question is who is going to pay the steep costs in the years to come of repairing damage wrought by floods or wildfires, or trying to prevent it from happening in the first place. "By one estimate, climate change and the fight against it could wipe out 9% of the value of the world's housing by 2050," which the magazine calculates to be $25 trillion.

Should homeowners who didn't know the risks be required to pay for concrete underpinnings, for example? Should taxpayers be asked to bear the burden or would that amount to bailing out wealthy owners? Should governments subsidize the cost of repairs or the installation of energy-efficient heat pumps? Or air-conditioning amid heat waves? Should governments step in when insurers bail on entire regions? The questions are multi-faceted, and they will only grow more vexing in the near future, all around the world. "But doing nothing today will only make tomorrow more painful," the piece concludes. "For both governments and homeowners, the worst response to the housing conundrum would be to ignore it."

Business Insider, meanwhile, takes a look at how the issue is affecting Miami in particular—in the form of "climate gentrification." That is, wealthy prospective homeowners appear to be shifting from the coasts and buying land and property in areas less prone to floods. "Higher-elevation neighborhoods further inland, such as Little Haiti, Overtown, and Liberty City, are seeing real-estate values rise," the story notes. "Such shifts in migration patterns accelerate the displacement of established residents and inflate property values and taxes, widening the socio-economic divide," per an analysis at Moody's. (More climate change stories.)

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