Scott Powers, Florida Politics, June 21, 2019
Nowhere in the United States is more vulnerable to climate-change induced sea level rise than Florida, where $76 billion would have to be spent in the next 20 years just to build seawalls to standards to protect against routine 2040 storm surges, a new report declares.
Washington-based Center for Climate Integrity has released the report on what it says is a first-ever study of its kind, “High Tide Tax: The Price to Protect Coastal Communities from Rising Seas”, declaring the national cost of seawalls in vulnerable, low-lying areas would be more than $400 billion. The report breaks down those costs by state and by county, and in some cases by individual communities.
Numerous Florida counties are among the most impacted, with 22 facing more than $1 billion each in projected costs, according to the report. Florida is by far the most vulnerable state, facing roughly twice the costs of Louisiana to build seawalls along low-lying coastal areas.
“We are set to undertake the most dramatic economic and social transformation in human history and yet no one has bothered to estimate what the core components of climate adaptation will actually cost,” Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, said during a press conference Wednesday.
“So our study looked at just one component of climate adaptation to help answer that question: basic seawall defenses for the entire U.S. coastal and tidal shoreline,” he said.
The report says Monroe County alone, home to the Florida Keys and some of the Everglades, faces $11 billion in seawall construction costs, second most in the nation to Suffolk County, N.Y., on Long Island. Collier, Franklin, Duval, Lee, Miami-Dade, and Pinellas counties all face costs of more than $3 billion apiece, according to the report.
Levy, Hillsborough, Dixie, Volusia, Wakulla, Citrus, Manatee, Brevard, St. Johns, Pasco, Gulf, Charlotte, Bay, Sarasota, and Nassau counties also all face costs of more than $1 billion apiece, according to the study.
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