Environment

Jun 9, 2016

For sale: waterfront property. Expected lifespan: maybe 50 years.

Climate change and related flooding is not a surprise. Should we be paying for rich people to build new pools?

Jason Murphy — Journalist and economist

Jason Murphy

Journalist and economist

Storm damage on beaches in Sydney
Storm damage in Sydney

The image of a swimming pool falling into the sea was splashed on front pages of several major newspapers this week as a Sydney storm delivered devastation.

5 comments

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5 thoughts on “For sale: waterfront property. Expected lifespan: maybe 50 years.

  1. Decorum

    It seems we’re happy to pay farmers for over-committing to transparently risky investments, so why not other rich people too?

  2. Monas Bretta

    People like to build on the front dune. Sooner or later they will learn that the sea gives and the sea takes. Who are we to interfere with their learning process?

  3. Michael Clark

    Bear in mind that the NZ Government has long maintained a national Earthquake insurance commission (EQC) that prior to the Christchurch quakes of 2011-2012 held $NZ6B. These funds are typically used to provide relief for damages not covered by private insurances. For instance the Christchurch events resulted in the land under houses of entire suburbs being rendered unfit for rebuilding as it had sunk beneath the water table. Peoples home insurances may cover most building costs but it explicitly doesn’t cover the land itself. Owners of coastal property might reflect on that.

  4. AR

    T coin (sic!) a phrase “we must draw a line in the sand…”.
    Interesting that no-one has commented on the sheer superfluity of living on the beach but having a swimming pool.

  5. Roger Clifton

    Thank you for pointing out that the variation in storm wave heights is even more important (in damage) than the mean rise. Similarly, we must expect more storm surges onto flat land beside the sea.

    As implied in another comment, the mere presence of sand dunes implies a transient landscape. Further, the sea has been rising throughout the time that the current owners bought – though only at 1.8 mm/a. Apart from that, local sea level changes when ocean currents change their course, which they are more likely to do in the future.

    A lesson that should have been learnt from the Brisbane Floods is that flood plains are called flood plains for a good reason.

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