Heavy flooding from monsoon rain in Ayutthaya and north Thailand arriving in Bangkok suburbs on 22 October 2011 in Prathumthani, Thailand. Photo: pornvit / Shutterstock

By Neal Ungerleider
19 July 2013

(Fast Company) – Before he passed away, British futurist James Martin predicted a massive real estate boom in fortified "Climate Change Cities," where the global elite go to escape the ravages of rising sea levels and unstable weather patterns.

Fabulously wealthy British futurist James Martin spoke about climate change at New York’s Lincoln Center and how it will change global population patterns in one of his last public appearances before passing away on June 30 at 79 years of age. Martin, who donated more than $150 million to Oxford University and lived on his own private Bermudan island, believed one of the biggest land booms in history is on its way--and it will happen in less than 100 years.

At the June 15 Global Future 2045 conference, Martin explained that events like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina will hit major American cities harder and more frequently because of climate change. Scientists and politicians have even come to the conclusion that whole countries such as Mauritius and Tuvalu will need to evacuate due to rising sea levels. But while coastlines in much of the world may suffer, climate change will be a positive development in some areas. Specifically, Canada; northern Europe; Russia; Alaska; Patagonia, Argentina; and southern Africa may all experience real estate booms. These booms, he claimed, will be in “Climate Change Cities” with military fortifications catering to an increasingly displaced global elite.

The idea of climate change-triggered mass migration has been around for a long time. Martin’s idea of climate-change cities centers around migration by the upper and upper middle class, but politicians, charities, and bureaucrats worldwide have quietly (and not so quietly) been gearing up for a torrent of refugees fleeing newly inhabitable lands.

This past June, Pacific Ocean island nations hosted a summit on climate change migration where best practices to evacuate thousands upon thousands of people were discussed. For the guests assembled on the island of Rarotonga, the big question was what happens when sea levels rise to a point where island populations simply can’t support themselves. Instead of being discussed as a science fiction hypothetical, the question was treated with steely reality.

As any player of Civilization knows, most major cities anchor trade routes. This means cities are more often than not built seaside or on a riverbank, which puts them at severe risk from rising sea levels. In the United States alone, New York, New Orleans, Chicago, Miami, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle and many other cities face the risk of whole neighborhoods becoming uninhabitable because of climate change. Here in Co.Exist’s hometown of New York City, the Rockaways and large portions of Staten Island and New Jersey are asking themselves just how extensively to rebuild in the wake of Sandy.

Continuing with the New York example, Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently proposed a $20 billion climate change plan for the city. The plan is designed to mitigate damage from another Sandy-sized storm and would drastically change everyday life for New Yorkers, with sharply increased taxes and large construction projects in most seaside neighborhoods. But what happens at that unspecified future date when the climate change mitigation plans fail? [more]

The Climate Change Real Estate Boom Is Coming

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