Reality deniers with big pockets are sought by a family of Floridian property developers hoping to sell the most expensive home in the US: a waterfront property on the market for $295m (£234m). The compound squats on Gordon Pointe peninsula, a spit of beachfront in south-west Florida, extending perilously into the Gulf of Mexico. The late financier John Donahue bought the land for $1m in 1985, when it was a beautiful remote nature spot, protected by mangroves, with a small fisherman’s cottage on it. He soon razed this and replaced it with McMansions with de rigueur swimming pools and lawns. Offered for your $295m are three houses with parking for yachts and other conveniences for the wealthy sea-level-rise gambler. The Donahue family is selling at the right time. This is one of the parts of the world most vulnerable to climate impacts, with sea levels rising three times faster than the global average, and increasing risk from hurricane damage. The whole neighbourhood, Port Royal, has been categorised as at “extreme risk of flooding” over the next 30 years, and is regularly hit by weather disasters, making it very expensive to get home insurance. Buyer beware, as Canute might say. Diminishing returns…
A chilling prediction
We learned last week that the planet spent a full year above 1.5C on the preindustrial average, and a glance at the extreme weather disasters for the week, with fires, heatwaves, floods and storms, confirms we’re very much into the post-climate-change era, and have been for some years.
Paradoxically, global heating could cause northern Europe to freeze. The melting Greenland glaciers may lead to the collapse of the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation (Amoc), the system that carries warm Gulf Stream water up from the equator and ensures milder European temperatures. A report modelled the shocking speed at which this could happen once a tipping point was reached – temperatures would drop by 1C a decade, compared with the current 0.2C rises. This rapid change would make societal adaptation nigh on impossible.
Estimates vary about when this may happen: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has “medium confidence” it won’t occur this century; last year, researchers from the University of Copenhagen controversially forecast “mid century”; while the Met Office says it’s “very unlikely” to occur before 2100. With scientific understatement, the latest paper states: “This is bad news for the climate system and humanity.” One outcome would be the freezing over of the English Channel. I guess “stop the boats” would become “stop the bobsleighs”, but it’s hard to know which direction the climate migrants would be headed.