Climate and Real Estate

GUESTWORDS in the East Hampton Star

By David Posnett

January 1, 2020

There is already evidence of a real estate slump in the United States. A housing recession is predicted for 2020. The average price of luxury home sales is falling, as is the number of sales. Long Island specifically is suffering as sales decrease and homes lose value. This is rather astonishing given that the rest of the economy is still on steroids.

What are the reasons? The following have all been suggested.

First, baby boomers from New York are downsizing and moving to lower-tax states. Second, millennials seem to have a distaste for buying second homes and would rather rent. Third, bonuses on Wall Street fell 17 percent in 2018 compared with 2017.

Fourth, the tax changes brought on by Donald Trump: a cap of $10,000 on the amount of state and local taxes (SALT), including property taxes, that can be deducted from federal income tax. For an expensive home with property taxes of $50,000 per year, this means that $40,000 can no longer be deducted.

Fifth, as mentioned by some real estate professionals: chronic flooding, which threatens the values of houses here. According to Aidan Gardiner writing for The Real Deal, a website focusing on New York real estate news: “Chronic flooding threatens to sink the value of Hamptons homes. Hamptons homes are very likely to lose value given that they’ll face chronic flooding as climate changes and sea levels rise over the coming years, according to Bloomberg. Behind only central California, the area has the second-highest level of its property tax revenue at risk among U.S. municipalities with a high likelihood of chronic flooding in the next 12 years. Climate change is expected to bring constant floods that would tank property values, erode infrastructure, and sink tax revenue, all of which will make it harder to fund projects to battle the rising seas.”

You can check for yourself on ss2.climatecentral.org, where you can find a “risk zone map for surging seas.” See the figure appended below.  You can input anything from “unchecked pollution” to “extreme carbon cuts,” depending on how you predict future policies will rein in carbon emissions.

I assumed unchecked carbon emissions along the lines of our present-day emissions, and I asked for maps of a 10-foot water level rise. The program produces maps with dark blue shaded areas that will be underwater. Here are some of the highlights for the not so distant future (2050 to 2100).

Montauk will become an island, the Napeague stretch will be underwater, and much of downtown Montauk will be too, including Route 27. Flooding of Route 27 across Napeague will start with just a three-foot rise in sea water levels, shutting down access to Montauk.

Homes all around Accabonac Harbor will be flooded. Gerard Drive and Louse Point will be submerged. Maidstone Park, Sammy’s Beach, and Cedar Point will be gone. Barcelona Point and the Sag Harbor Golf Course will become an island.

Beach homes in Amagansett, homes along Two Mile Hollow Beach, homes around Hook Pond, Georgica Pond, and Wainscott Pond will all be underwater. Indeed, a few homes on Beach Lane in Wainscott will be submerged. That is where the cable from the South Fork Wind Farm is proposed to come ashore and where some of its opponents own property.

Much of Sag Harbor Village will be underwater, and North Haven will be a real island.

Up and down Long Island, the homes close to the South Shore will be underwater, and Fire Island will no longer exist.

The North Shore, too, will be flooded, and Greenport will be on an island.

Kennedy International Airport will be underwater.

It is not just someone else’s problem. Loss of value of high-end homes means loss of significant local business and loss of jobs, and it spills over, resulting in loss of the value of your own property regardless of whether it is in particular danger of flooding.

Showtime’s “The Affair” recently wrapped up its final season, and part of it was set in mid-21st-century Montauk, with warming temperatures and rising seas. The show forecasts what life will look like in 34 short years, including mass transit that routinely short-circuits because of flooding, coastal communities plunged into near-total darkness, and shoreline towns without basic municipal services.

We had better support clean energy (including offshore wind) and work to decrease our carbon footprint. It is urgent.

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David Posnett is a member of the Steering Committee of Win With Wind.

Warmer Air, Heavier Rain, More Flooding

David Leonhardt writes in the NY Times about flooding in Grafton, Ill., a small town along the Mississippi River. Because of a bridge closure, the only other way for the vil­lage’s 1,000-plus res­i­dents is to the north via tens of miles of wind­ing, poorly paved coun­try roads that are barely wide enough to al­low a ve­hi­cle go­ing in each di­rec­tion,” The Wall Street Journal’s Erin Ailworth wrote recently. “A 20-minute drive to a gro­cery store now takes a few hours…”

It rained “heavily” all day long in East Hampton NY, on Thursday June 13th. One inch of rainfall according to https://www.localconditions.com/weather-east-hampton-new-york/11937/past.php The winds were out of the NE at about 10-20 mph. Nothing unusual, right?

I decided to take a drive down Gerard Drive. It is arguably one of the most sensitive areas to flooding and East Hampton Town has just completed an expensive fortification of the road to prevent ‘noreaster’ storms from crashing over the road in to Accabonac bay.

The road was passable with large puddles. About 50% of the private drive-ways were flooded.

Then I visited the cross section of Springs Fireplace Rd. and Gardiners Avenue, just by Springs Auto (Edgar’s place). This place usually gets flooded with every storm, at least in recent memory. No surprise:

This kind of flooding was rare 30-40 years ago when I first moved to East Hampton. Perhaps only with a hurricane? Now it seems more common.

To test this I tabulated historic data going back to 2000: a) total precipitation in inches for 6 months (January to June), b) average temperatures measured daily for the same 6 months (January to June). The linear trendlines computed by Excel over the 20 year period, show a slight increase of about 1 degree in average temperature and an increase of about 1 inch of rain per 6 months. Online source of data.

Inches of rain for 6 month period (blue) and average temperature for same 6 month period (red). Measurements are from Westerly State Airport, Rhode Island, about 15 miles north of Montauk.

Warmer air carries more humidity and this leads to heavier rainfall and flooding. It is happening locally and it is a clear and present danger.

Clean energy is one major way we can fight this trend.

From Kate Mueth on June 25th after a few hours of rain fall:

Myth: No Wind in the Summer ?

Facts: Wind energy is an indirect form of solar energy.  Wind energy is stronger and more reliable offshore here because wind energy is affected by friction and the rotation of the Earth (Coriolis). Friction near the surface of land and ocean is called “surface roughness.”  Surface roughness includes buildings, topography, forests, and on the ocean surface: waves. “Therefore the Offshore Wind Industry is gradually becoming an important part of the global energy mix. In some regions of the world (e.g. the northeast region of the United States ), offshore wind is the most promising renewable energy resource.” Fundamentals of Ocean Renewable Energy: Generating Electricity from the Sea,Simon Neill M Reza Hashemi, eBook ISBN: 9780128104491, Imprint : Academic Press Published Date: 12th June 2018.


But is there wind in the summer? Opponents to renewable energy say “No”. However a new study at Rutgers University dispels that myth.
“The Rutgers study, published last September, found that not only do sea breezes travel three times farther offshore than onshore, but that the breezes are stronger during upwelling conditions, most common in the summer and fall, which is when water in deeper levels of the ocean rise to the surface. Thanks to the study, developers now know which months to expect the greatest potential wind energy.” 

https://www.philly.com/news/new-jersey/rutgers-helps-offshore-wind-firms-predict-coastal-breezes-20190127.html


https://njmonthly.com/articles/towns-schools/steve-adubato-only-in-nj/offshore-wind-farms-nj/?fbclid=IwAR1e4lFZoyeqsDQ00XUQgh8Adwtk2BcAJ9g_Iit9R-STUyRW-hurHwAYPyw#.XK3s1J6VLw4.facebook

From: Cate Rogers

The Case for Wind Energy

Wind off the coast of Eastern Long Island is among the most consistent in America.
The SOUTH FORK WIND FARM’S 15 wind turbines 35 miles off Montauk will not be seen from land and will provide electricity to 70,000 households.

DO WE NEED MORE POWER?
Yes. We risk frequent brown outs during the peak summer season. Our energy grid cannot keep up with increasing demand. If power is not provided by wind turbines, use of dirty fossil fuels will continue to rise.

WHAT WILL THIS COST ME?
The average household monthly bill will go up by only about $1.50. The good news: because wind is renewable and free, the cost will be stabilized unlike the volatile cost of fossil fuels. This is a small short term cost for a long term solution.

WILL THIS HURT OUR FISHERMEN?
After listening to commercial fishermen, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management made sure that wind turbines and cable will avoid Cox’s Ledge, a valuable commercial fishing area. In fact, existing wind turbines off Block Island attract marine life to them, imitating an artificial reef.

THE NATIONAL & GLOBAL CASE FOR WIND ENERGY:


Scientific evidence continues to mount as to the urgency of reducing carbon emissions before it is too late:

SPECIES EXTINCTION
Due to Climate Change, one million species will face extinction and humans will suffer as a result unless action is taken. (United Nations report). The Audubon Society supports the use of wind power and reports the greatest threat to birdlife is Global Climate Change.

THE WORLD’S FISHERIES
are undergoing tremendous stress as the marine environment is altered by Climate Change. 93% of global warming heat is absorbed into our oceans, dramatically reducing marine life. Acidification of our surface waters is spelling extinction for some fish and shellfish. Eel grass forms the base of a highly productive marine food web. (NOAA). Locally, our commercial fisheries that depend on eel grass for spawning and protection, are threatened.

RISING SEA LEVELS
Caused by melting polar ice sheets, threaten coastal communities around the world — including our own.

VIOLENT WEATHER EVENTS
Climate Change is producing stronger storms and more intense hurricanes that are wreaking havoc on communities with high public and personal costs, including loss of life. Our towns are on the front line.

PUBLIC HEALTH
Warmer winters are dramatically increasing infectious disease-carrying insects as they
migrate north due to higher temperatures, causing untold costs and hardship. Locally, the
rise in Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases is alarming.

By Cate Rogers