“Eighty per cent of the Australian population lives in the coastal zone, and approximately 711,000 addresses are within three kilometres of the coast and less than six metres above sea level.”
– Department of Climate Change
I’ve spoken before about the problem of rising sea levels and the potential for it to inundate Australian homes (see “Coastal homes still popular despite threat of rising sea levels” and “Warning labels recommended for coastal homes”). It is expected that sea levels could rise by up to 1 metre before the end of the century. However, new research has found that the Greenland ice sheet is melting faster than was first thought, and if that disappears it could add up to 6 metres to the global sea level. It might take anywhere between 100 and 1000 years for that worst case scenario to take place.
If you think insurance companies or the government will take care of you, think again. Coastal buildings are protected by insurance, but the land value is not, and it is the land value where the bulk of the property’s overall value sits. No land, no value.
What about the government? Yes, they have agreed to financially assist people affected elsewhere by buying back the homes (which is what they’ve done in Collingwood Park), but will they do that for the entire Aussie coastline? I doubt it.
What I expect to see is government assitance to build walls and levies to prevent rising sea levels from intruding onto property. The problem with this, at least in Queensland, is that climate change could also see an increase in cyclone activity, and if low-lying areas get hit hard then no wall may be high enough to keep the water out. May I present Exhibit A: New Orleans.
Do you live in a low-lying area close to the sea tidal river? Are you concerned by this? Or is all of this still too far off to even bother worrying about?