Another Cost of Climate Change

Dozens of people died during Hurricane Ian last month. Estimates for the repairing the damage the storm did to Florida and South Carolina range from $30 to $65 billion. As Mississippi’s coastal residents know, it will take years for Floridians to put their homes and their lives back together.

Unfortunately, Ian is probably just the first punch Mother Nature throws during the 2022 storm season. This comes on the heels of a string of tough years for property owners and the insurance companies that protect them. Insurance payouts from 2017 totaled over $300 billion. Even though the financial hits in intervening years haven’t been as heavy, the number of named storm systems has increased, which suggests that people who live in coastal areas will, ultimately, experience more and more difficulty in living there safely.

This means insurance premiums for coastal housing will continue to rise, probably steeply, which will make it difficult for middle class home owners to afford staying where they are. Should the government try to mitigate these costs to make it possible for families to live on the coast? Or should we allow the market to take over–even if it means middle class families move farther and farther away from their roots and their workplaces? Are there other options to consider?

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18 Responses to Another Cost of Climate Change

  1. Jacob Neal says:

    I personally believe that the government shouldn’t try to fix problems that don’t exist if raging, destructive storms continually hit the same plot of land in order to cause insurance premia to rise then maybe the geniuses down in Florida would figure out not to build expensive stuff there. The US already spends 30% of my money, and paying people to live places where they shouldn’t only increase that amount. If middle-class families flee the coasts, that would only affect them, and their poor decisions should affect anyone else.

  2. Bill Arnoldus says:

    I believe a government program that incentivized moving away from the coast would be effective. For people whose only residence is a house on or near the coast, it may be impossible to just “move away”. Government intervention would be needed to let people who would like to move away from the coast to do so. For the people who have a vacation beach house on or near the coast, it’s not needed to fund them to move elsewhere since they have an alternative residence. Middle class families moving farther and farther away form their roots and their workplace is acceptable considering how dangerous it is to live there.

  3. Adalberto Estrella says:

    I believe that the government should make it possible for middle class families to live on the coast because for instance, some that live there have a job in the area. If they would be displaced because the market value of the houses went up, that would potentially cause the poverty rate to go up and cause more issues of that matter. Also, there is people that have vacation homes that would lose a lot of many because of the prices going up.

  4. Nicolas Neal says:

    Ouch! I fell over and got a boo-boo. Should the government implement a program to give me a free bandage? If you insist on living in Flood City, than you, alone, ought to incur the costs. Should we divert your consequences to the wallets of your more safely located counterparts, then why not slide down the slippery slope of bailing out insurance companies who contract with risky clients or compensating everyone for every bruise and scratch. A better alternative would be to invest in protective infrastructure that mitigates environmental damage, on which local governments already spend plenty of money. “But Nicolas!” you exclaim, “Floridians have little choice in where they live!” An excellent observation, though human displacement is nevertheless a natural course, and when Miami joins Atlantis among the fishes, no amount of tax revenue will solve the problem.

  5. Gracyn Young says:

    Government intervention could only go so far, and in my opinion, it would be best for them to not get involved at all. Part of living in a coastal city, or an area prone to natural disasters, is having to go the extra mile to insure that you and your belongings are safe and rightly compensated if something were to happen. According to policygenius.com, residents of tornado alley are encouraged to purchase premium insurance plans in case of major hail or rain damage (most likely due to a tornado). People who live in tornado alley knew that they were at a greater risk before moving (or continuing to live) there, just like people in areas like Florida knew that they were at a greater risk of hurricane/tropical storm damage. With the current rate of weather changes especially that pertaining to global warming (icebergs melting leading to increased flooding, temperatures rising in the Atlantic causing stronger storms, etc.), whether you believe it or not, taking it into consideration could place you as more prepared for the expectant weather in a possible place.
    The financial situation; however, poses an alternative claim, stating that middle-class families who have lived there all their lives are being forced to evacuate their homes and lose their jobs due to the increase in living. But this is not just a Florida issue, it is a large-scale problem implemented in the mix of another. New York rent rates continue to rise as people migrate into the city, Chicago natives are being pushed out of their homes due to gentrification, and tons of other people are losing their hometowns and values due to the displacement of government support. What makes Florida more entitled to their compensation? Why would the government want to help in the first place? The government simply did not have a problem with displacing Native American tribes for their economic benefit, so why would they want to help people stay when they have nothing to gain?

  6. Rushyendranath Reddy Nalamalapu says:

    There is no doubt that climate change is inevitable; we are already beginning to experience an increase in storms. Hurricane seasons have always plagued the American Southeast and it is time to implement realistic solutions.

    Government intervention in insurance companies may be effective, but this will not relieve the continuous bombarding of hurricanes along the coast. It may be cheaper to have insurance, but it will not prevent the loss of life, property, and economic opportunity. This is not the solution because this is not the primary problem.

    Hurricanes are massive storms caused when moist hot air rises and cold air drops causing large thunderstorms over an enormous expanse of water. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has rigorously experimented with hurricanes and tropical storms. Military aircraft are flown right into the storm to drop specially calibrated chemicals to alter the composition of a tropical storm. The hurricane made landfall as a blizzard. This was not intended but shows how human ingenuity can offer solutions to real-world problems. With bioengineering and emphasis on STEM in education, we can continue to foster a generation that will work against climate change.

  7. Kadie Van says:

    Climate change and storms are inevitable. Even if the government did intervene to help the residents hit by storms, who is to say that the problem will not occur again? Personally, I could not imagine moving from my home due to severe damages. Moreover, if the residential place I lived in is convenient for work and family, I would have a hard time to justify moving.

    I believe that the government should help to a certain extent, but I believe the people who were in the tragedy should take further precautions. If the family chooses to stay along the coast, they should put in a stronger foundation, or moving would be the better option.

  8. Asher Rials says:

    I say let the people do what they want. If a coast-dweller or an insurance company chooses to pay millions of dollars every few years to repair a ramshackle home, so be it. That is one of our rights as Americans: choosing what to do with our money and where to live. If a person really likes where they live, even if it gets destroyed every year, that’s their decision. But if someone doesn’t have the resources to rebuild a house every year, then they shouldn’t live in a hurricane-frequent area. That may mean middle-class families get displaced, but it’s for their own safety.

  9. Jenna De Ochoa says:

    This situation is similar to many other issues that the American population faces. For example, there are Americans all over the states that have serious health conditions that are obviously out of there control. This is similar to the issue of hurricanes or any other natural disaster that Americans face given that individuals have no control over those circumstances. Assuming that the government should help certain Americans pay for high health care costs then it should also help Americans that live in such dangerous areas, like around the coast. If you don’t have to endure what Florida natives have to at this time, it’s easy to ignore the problem. It is easy to say that the market should just take over. The same goes for the rich or upper class who are well off and have to worry less about the repercussions of such disasters. Middle and lower class Americans should not have to worry about whether or not they will have a place to sleep just after their home has been destroyed.
    Additionally, it is important to acknowledge the causes of such disasters. The climate crisis is only going to have worse impacts from now on and everyone should be worried. It is the government’s responsibility to make this country better for Americans to live in and right now one of their focuses should be global warming.

  10. Jacqueline Smith says:

    I don’t believe that the government should be spending its money to pay for coastal families to endanger themselves and their assets more directly if these storms are a given. If people want to stay on the coast, they should just have a less expensive home that would be more affordable to insure. If someone’s home is destroyed, they are much more likely to move more inland to an affordable home than try to rebuild a home with expensive stormproof materials. I think if the costs go up, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The costs go up proportionately to how risky it is to live in a particular area. If (or when) the costs rise the coast line would be more concentrated with middle to high income families and profitable businesses such as hotels, casinos, and restaurants instead of typical neighborhoods. It does take away from the character of a place, but lower income people moving and having a more secure home is probably for everyone’s best interest.

  11. James Talamo says:

    I think that it’s logistically impossible to get people to move away from the coast, considering the huge communities along the coast. New Orleans, the entirety of Florida,

    • James Talamo says:

      I did not mean to post, so I’ll continue. These people aren’t gonna leave their homes, but I also feel like it’s unfair for their location to affect someone in north Mississippi or Alabama to have to pay more for insurance compared to coasties. As things continue to develop, I feel like there will be a natural move away from the coast, but I also feel there will continue to be a coastal community, at least until the hurricanes and storms reach a critical level.

  12. Max Feng says:

    I believe that the market should take over. If a family decides to live in an area known for hurricanes, even if they cannot afford it financially, they should pay the price of it. It is a poor decision on the family’s end, and their choices should not have affected anyone else. The coast is not the only example of rising house prices. For instance, in Silicon Valley, house prices are increasing exponentially each year due to the rising skilled science research, yet the government is not helping families lower the costs. As a result, lower-income families are moving out of the city. It is impractical to try to stop the causes of human migration.

  13. Elliot Mathers says:

    At this point dramatic climate change is inevitable and effects are being shown. I believe the government should play an active role when it comes to climate change and how big companies and the government itself cause it. The laws limiting big companies and their waste are there but not strict enough. So I do not believe the government should take an active role in the insurance market but do their job and deal with global warming, but that would take force on not just American companies so all the American government should do is get rid of our harmful pollution.

  14. Noah Lee says:

    Although I think in a perfect world, everybody would be able to live on the coast with reasonable insurance rates, it is unreasonable to ever expect this. If the government steps in and forces companies to lower their necessarily-high rates, then this will disincentivize many of those companies to provide any rates at all, and Florida residents may be left with more competitive insurance opportunities. This is a situation where almost every solution is unfavorable, but I believe that government intervention would only exacerbate the issue. If people want to live on the coast, let them; however, they should do so with the expectations of possible property damage. Even if the government does lower insurance rates, this will not be a disaster-fixing panacea, as homeowners will still have to deal with the destructive nightmare of home renovation and repair, and a devastating hurricane may just strike again a few years down the road. Climate change has shifted the literal and emblematic tides of the coastal lifestyle, and it is fanciful for inhabitants to believe that present conditions will ever return to the way they once were.

  15. Elijah says:

    I feel like it would be nice to have the government assist in providing means for Middle-Class people to continue living, even with natural disasters. However, I also hope that people can consider a far more vulnerable class of people – lower-class people. I would say that the government should be lending a hand, but we must not fail to consider those who cannot afford to leave outside of Florida or afford to find new places to live in after the damage is done. I am not quite sure about how we go about addressing the problems the middle class might face, but I personally question whether or not there is enough effort put in for the survival and recovery of the lower classes during natural disasters.

  16. Kinsley Collum says:

    A part of home buying is taking into account the geographic location of your home. If you decide you want to live on the coast of Florida, which is prone to hurricanes, then you should be prepare to take on damage to your house. I think the government should not really get involved in helping coastal families stay where they are. While it is sad for someone to lose their house to a storm, they already knew the cost of living where they live. I think people should be smart when deciding where to live and evaluate if they can keep up the cost necessary to stay there. However, for people who really can’t help where they live but also can’t afford to live there, there is nonprofits and charities out there dedicated to helping people who suffer coast storms.

  17. Bethany Setiawan says:

    Natural disasters will still happen, whether or not the government decides to help the families more when damages are created due to the climate. I agree with Kadie that the government should provide assistance to a certain extent and that families should be aware of the risks involved with living near the coast. The region where you and your family reside shouldn’t effect nearby families who might not be in your circumstances. Because we cannot stop climate change overnight, coastal families must be willing to take measures to make their homes more hurricane-proof.

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