Which cities possess the right combination of resilience, quality of life, plentiful housing, and accessibility to a major metro (and points beyond)?
Using Climate Alpha’s proprietary Resilience Index™ scores and forecasting tools, we’ve identified five communities across the U.S. poised to reap the long-term benefits of a remote future, ranging from cities such as Portland, Oregon and Colorado Springs to greener pastures in Michigan, Virginia, and Kentucky.
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Even as insurers continue tallying their losses from September’s Hurricane Ian — Swiss Re’s latest estimate is $50-$65 billion, second only to 2005’s Hurricane Katrina as the most destructive storm of all-time — residents and elected officials in southwest Florida have already begun debating how best to build back better. But they haven’t addressed the question of where to rebuild.
To answer that, we harnessed Climate Alpha’s Resilience Index™ to calculate a risk, vulnerability, and readiness score for every county in south Florida, then used our patent-pending Scenario Forecaster to project both the baseline and climate-adjusted Climate Price™ down to the zip code level. The results underscore how unevenly the effects of climate change are likely to be felt. Even in a state as vulnerable as Florida, some places are more vulnerable than others.
For example, Lee County — home to Fort Myers and Cape Coral, which lay directly in Ian’s path — is among the climate-riskiest in the state, second only to Miami-Dade. The three counties least at risk, owing in part to their higher elevation and being inland, are the less built-out Hardee, DeSoto, and Glades — implying the state still has plenty of room for safe(r) development.
The picture changes somewhat when the metric in question is vulnerability, which takes socio-economic and political factors into account alongside climate models. Lee County — along with Sarasota and Hillsborough (home to Tampa) — remain among the lowest scorers, but less so compared to south Florida’s Atlantic coast. DeSoto and Glade counties remain among the highest scorers, but are joined this time by Okeechobee, which lies on its namesake lake’s northern shore.
A more radical shift occurs when we start to calculate readiness — the ability to mitigate and adapt to climate disasters — rather than risk or vulnerability. Although no south Florida county scores highly in the scheme of things, Sarasota and Charlotte County (north of Fort Myers) leap to the top alongside Hardee, underscoring local resources and preparations to address their inherent vulnerability.
Taken together, what does this mean? From a real estate appreciation perspective, the prognosis for greater Fort Myers in a south Florida context is… not great. The safest zip codes from a depreciation standpoint lie immediately to the north, in Sarasota and Bradenton, underscoring the financial resources and political will available to invest in future adaptation efforts and disaster recovery. If this seems obvious, perhaps it should be — both path dependency and inequality will play roles in deciding which places are protected.
Zooming into the Fort Myers area, our Climate Price™ analysis platform first highlights zip codes projected to appreciate faster under a current “business-as-usual” scenario out to 2030. Darker shades indicate faster growth, in which case 33917 and 33905 — encompassing North Fort Myers and Buckingham — are projected to gain and retain value more than low-lying coastal areas such as Cape Coral.
This dichotomy is shown in even starker relief when our Scenario Forecaster swaps business-as-usual for one with more severe climate impacts. Once again, 33917 and 33905 are projected to out-perform formerly desirable coastline locations, now joined by 33913, containing Southwest Florida International Airport and mostly undeveloped land.
The takeaway is this: If southwest Floridians want to build back better following the most destructive hurricane ever to hit the state, they (and investors) would be smarter to rebuild ever-so-slightly inland to mitigate the worst effects of storm surge and sea-level rise while retaining access to their coastal lifestyle. That’s where the smart money is headed, anyway.
“As the Sun Belt suffers from increasing vulnerability, the question is can New England benefit from that?” asks Climate Alpha’s Greg Lindsay in The Boston Globe, framing a story exploring whether the region’s climate resilience might spark a reversal of the region’s migration patterns.
Not so fast, say the other experts quoted. A much bigger factor than climate is the region’s dramatic shortfall of affordable housing — a problem made worse by the NIMBYism of local residents. What good does it do New England to be a climate haven if no one can move there? But that’s all the reason to start planning — and building — for tomorrow’s arrivals now, says Climate Alpha founder Dr. Parag Khanna.
“You don’t want this kind of reckless climate gentrification overrunning places where you get crowding out and pricing ordinary people out of the market,” Khanna said. “If you just think with a rigorous scientific lens, you should be thinking about the places that would be more resilient [and] pre-designing in the sense of sustainable technology and enlarging the capacity of those geographies to absorb greater populations.”
At Climate Alpha, we build tools for planners, developers, and investors to start preparing for the future now. Whether its our Resilience Scores for 40,000 ZIP codes, our risk-adjusted valuations for real estate every year through 2040, or our patent-pending scenario forecaster, we offer our customers the scientific lens they need to separate hype from opportunities. Visit www.climatealpha.ai to learn more.
A draft of the next National Climate Assessment was published last week in anticipation of President Biden’s appearance at #COP27. Although the final report won’t be published until late next year, the 1,695 draft released for public comment notes “the things Americans value most are at risk” — starting with their homes. Summarizing the draft’s key takeaways, CNN contributor John D. Sutter paints a dire picture in a recent article of what’s to come, including:
• The U.S. is warming faster than the global average. Underscoring the need to invest in climate adaptation now rather than cling to dreams of total mitigation.
• Climate disasters are getting worse. “In the 1980s, the country experienced on average one (inflation-adjusted) billion-dollar [extreme weather] event every four months,” the draft report states. “Now, there is one every three weeks, on average.”
• It hits the most vulnerable the hardest, as frontline communities face the brunt of climate disasters due to decades of discrimination and displacement. They urgently deserve investment in adaptation.
• It’s playing a role in migration and economic woes. “Millions of people,” the report states, will be displaced by floods, fires, and rising seas. Those are numbers not seen in the United State since the Dust Bowl.
Taken together, these and other factors point to the clear and present need to invest in climate adaptation — and migration — using both public funds and private capital. At Climate Alpha, we’re building the tools investors, planners, and strategists need to identify and build the resilient communities of tomorrow.
Visit www.climatealpha.ai to learn more about how our Climate Price™ analysis suite can help.
Climate Alpha’s founder and CEO Dr. Parag Khanna offers a scorching take in this weekend’s Financial Times: Climate change demands nothing less than the end of #sovereignty; the enshrinement of #mobility as “the cardinal human right of the 21st century;” and the rebalancing of human civilization amongst an “archipelgo” of habitable regions.
The alternative is far worse, he writes: “A neo-medieval world of warring fortresses, fending off at the gates those who both need and could offer help. Whether the human population peaks at 10 billion or collapses suddenly to only 5 billion or 6 billion may well depend on the path we choose now. Either way, for the inhabitants of the future, mobility will be destiny.”
At Climate Alpha, we’re building the tools necessary to galvanize public officials, mobilize private capital, and inspire individuals to build the world we need. Starting with the United States and #Canada, we’ve created a Resilience Index™ evaluating local strengths and weaknesses, an Alpha Finder™ for identifying geographies of opportunity, and our patent-pending climate scenario forecaster able to stress-test regions against the accelerating effects of climate change.
Visit www.climatealpha.ai to learn more about how we can help you, your organization, and your society thrive in a future with more than a billion people on the move.
“People have stupidly moved from New York to Miami and from San Francisco to Austin,” he continued. “But Florida’s going to be flooded and Texas is going to be too hot to survive there. So there’ll have to be a massive migration from south and the coastline towards the only part of the US that is going to survive climate change. It’s the Midwest into essentially Canada. So there’ll be trillions of dollars of real estate assets that are going to be damaged by essentially global climate change.”
Climate Alpha is proud to partner with Dr. Roubini’s firm Atlas Capital to create the first-of-its-kind Sustainable REIT Index™ offering risk-adjusted valuation for 200,000 REIT properties under multiple climate scenarios, ranking and clustering funds according to location, property type, and other metrics, with regular updates based on the latest market data
“Literally there are maps that show that half of the US in the next 20 years are going to be either underwater on the coastlines or too hot or droughts or wildfires, to be living in it,” Roubini told Odd Lots. At Climate Alpha, we’re making those maps. Visit Climate Alpha’s Products Page to learn more about how we can do the same for you.
A “race for higher ground” has already begun around Tampa and in South Florida, as new arrivals and local businesses displace residents in lower-income areas less prone to flooding. Fast Company’s Adele Peters reports on a new paper by Tulane University‘s Jesse M. Keenan and Columbia University’s Marco Tedesco offering a “climate gentrification risk index.”
“I think we need to start planning today about land use decisions and movements in the future instead of just letting the market haphazardly create the situation we have,” Keenan says. “What we’ve learned here is that we need to be mindful of where these conflicts are arising today and tomorrow.”
Don’t wait. Our suite of tools — including our proprietary Resilience Index scores and scenario forecaster — can help governments identify gentrification hotspots now while steering investors and developers toward less obvious opportunities to adapt and build. Visit www.climatealpha.ai to learn more about how we can help you win the race for higher ground — before it’s even run.
Improbably, America is running out of land. Developable land, that is.
“Land-use restrictions and a lack of public investment in roads, rail and other infrastructure have made it harder than ever for developers to find sites near big population centers to build homes,” writes Konrad Putzier in The Wall Street Journal. “As people keep moving to cities such as Austin, Phoenix and Tampa, they are pushing up the price of dirt and making the housing shortages in these fast-growing areas even worse.”
Vacant land prices in the Sun Belt have more than doubled in the last two years, even as Austin and Phoenix are becoming markedly hotter and Tampa lies squarely in the path of #HurricaneIan — potentially the worst storm to strike the city in a century.
Torn between the need for land in fast-growing regions and valuations that don’t take climate change into account, developers risk paying a premium today for discounted locations tomorrow. Fortunately, Climate Alpha combines climate, demographic, and economic data for a 360-degree view of the most desirable locations in 2040 and every year in between. Visit Climate Alpha’s Products Page to learn more before it’s gone.
The #climatecrisis is more complex than any single model can capture. For instance, the #megadrought gripping the West for the last two decades has caused the Colorado River to wither, causing the U.S. government to demand neighboring states cut their water usage by as much as 40%. But it gets worse.
“I don’t want to be flippant,” Famiglietti says, “but people don’t understand the food-water nexus. Do we try to bring more water to the southern high plains, to Arizona, to California, because if the food system’s optimized, maybe that’s the cheapest thing to do? Or does agriculture move to where the water is? Does it migrate north and east?”
Climate models can’t answer that question. Climate Alpha can. Our scenario forecaster allows customers to explore the potential implications of these kinds of feedback loops. Visit www.climatealpha.ai to learn more.
The Washington Post’s opinion article on Zoom towns contrasts the diverging fortunes of Jackson Hole, WY and Buffalo, NY in an era of “Zoomtowns” and remote work. While the former has seen an influx of workers trading urban life for majestic terrain (and soaring home prices), the aspiring “climate haven” on Lake Erie awaits its Renaissance.
But that could change, McArdle argues: “The Mountain West and the Sun Belt could probably do with less competition for scarce water, and the prosperous coastal cities would be better off with fewer people to house since they refuse to allow enough building to let supply meet demand.”
Any number of small cities have been touted as Zoomtowns. But which will offer the essential combination of affordability, job creation, and climate resilience? Don’t just speculate. We can tell you. Visit our Website at www.climatealpha.ai to learn more.