Monday, July 23, 2007

What politician would want to back the options for dealing with sea-level rise?

StarNewsOnline (North Carolina): The recent update to the Wilmington-New Hanover Joint Coastal Area Management plan considered a number of factors in laying out long-term development goals and patterns for our area, including strategies to promote smart, sustainable growth while protecting the environment. Nowhere does it mention sea-level rise. Local officials aren’t pushing for guidance from Washington or Raleigh either.

…“There’s very little effort right now to do anything proactive to prepare for the inevitable impacts of the climate change we’re going to get,” said Jonathan Overpeck, director of the Institute for the Study of Planet Earth at the University of Arizona and a member of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

…Talk has yet to begin about major decisions that have teeth, such as planning to relocate or protect important infrastructure such as roads and sewer treatment plants in low-lying coastal areas or actively working to limit development in vulnerable areas. "There's too much money involved right now for people to take a deep breath,' Riggs said. 'No one wants to stop and talk about it."

….After Onslow County's revaluation in 2006, North Topsail Beach's property values jumped from $349 million to $1.48 billion – increasing from 7 percent to 16 percent of the county's overall tax base.

…While governments might be slow to react to the problems posed by sea-level rise, one segment of the private sector is leading the way in assessing the potential risk to coastal areas.

…State Insurance Commissioner Jim Long said he expects sea-level rise, more people crowding the coast and the rising value of coastal property to continue to put pressure on premiums. "They have to take it into account because they're risk averse," he said of the insurance companies. "They realize they can get cleaned out pretty easily."

During the most recent rate filing, the industry asked Long's office for a 125 percent increase in homeowner premiums for Pender, New Hanover and Brunswick counties. It ended up getting a 25 percent rate increase….

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