"It is now highly feasible to take care of everybody on Earth at a higher standard of living than any have ever known. It no longer has to be you or me. Selfishness is unnecessary. War is obsolete. It is a matter of converting our high technology from WEAPONRY to LIVINGRY."
- Buckminster Fuller (h/t Suzy Waldman)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Denial Can Be Strategically Rational

Florida is toast in my opinion. Miami may be a special case. 

New Orleans is definitely a special case in my opinion. It is too culturally important to lose. Heroic measures are justified.

All places at sea level eventually going to be swamped. The main uncertainty is when. 

And most populated places at sea level are in some form of denial, which is explicit and frank in some places. For instance, Galveston, Texas, is particularly at risk and in particularly vehement denial about it - they would be sinking due to local mismanagement alone and the real estate community is admantly against recognizing the fact.


Mortgages and financial arrangements are written with 30 - year return periods. Therefore everyone with property is interested in the risk being perceived as nonexistent or very far in the future.

Typically the people with the most property in an area are the most influential. Therefore denialism concentrates among the elite on the coasts, especially in areas on broad, shallow coastal plains or on sandy beaches. 

In my opinion this is NOT just DESPITE them being among the most at risk. 

To the contrary, they deny because they stand to lose considerable wealth the instant that the sea level rise problem becomes perceived as unmanageable. 

They deny BECAUSE they are at risk, and they want another buyer to come along. Like anyone selling or potentially selling defective property, they are not motivated to admit the defects.


manuel moe g said...

Insurance brings in a bit of much needed rationality. Insurance interests were first to leave when Joe Bast at Heartland doubled-down on climate irrationality.

Also, some elites just don't have the ability to fool themselves. Hard to remain an elite and a fool, but obviously not impossible.

Your point is well taken, caveats aside.

Anthony Paul said...

Should we name this "Jaws syndrome" after the locals in the movie Jaws who "encouraged" the police chief to downplay the threat so that local tourism wouldn't suffer?

Dan said...

In my head, the Jaws music seems entirely apt for climate change.

Eric L said...

Jaws syndrome? Not sure I personally favor that, but a good case can be made: