Federal, State, and local government policies reward private building on land which will most certainly flooded due to climate change. Building seawalls is only an expensive stopgap, setting populations up for eventual catastrophic inundation.
How could we collectively be so self-destructive?
There are three broad options for dealing with sea-level rise. We can build walls to ward off the sea. We can put our coastal buildings and infrastructure up on stilts. Or we can plan a slow retreat and move our built environment farther inland. All of these options would take a long time to implement, and many of them would be absurdly expensive. Jim Titus, chief sea-level-rise expert at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), estimates that shore protection for the lower 48 states could cost around $1 trillion.
... problem with seawalls... as they are built higher to hold back the rising waters, more and more people on the dry side will end up living well below sea level. ... this would leave us with “more than a hundred cities and towns that look like New Orleans”-giant bathtubs that can fill up from one well-placed hurricane.
That leaves strategic retreat—moving farther away from the water—as the ideal option. Yet, in the United States, we’re moving in the opposite direction.
Along the Atlantic, 60 percent of the coastline that sits less than three feet above sea level has been opened for new houses, hotels, businesses, and roads. (By contrast, only 10 percent has been set aside for conservation.)
... the federal government is offering incentives for such shortsighted development.
Federal Emergency Management Agency... encourages high-risk coastal development by subsidizing flood insurance for property owners.
... no one seems to agree on whether it’s a local, state, or federal responsibility.[emphasis mine]
This is absolutely insane! There is no reason to build on flood plaines; to do so invites the greedy to get their cash for building and run leaving behind condemned buildings and displaced people. I had sympathy for New Orleans people so badly devastated, but no more. Those who rebuild there are foolish at the kindest, and stupid at the more accurate end of the scale. For those who knowingly put themselves at risk should know in advance they there will be no relief from taxpayers.
Current regulations require any new construction in a FEMA flood zone A to have a first floor elevation at least one foot above the 100-year flood level. Such new construction is not easy to get a permit for, at least not in Maine. New development has to be out of the actual floodplain, though it may be in Zone A on the map. An applicant has to prove that the proposed new development is not in the actual flood-risk area by getting a surveyor or engineer to certify that the elevation of the ground where the development is proposed is above the danger elevation. They have to get a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) from FEMA, and then come to us with that as proof.
Of course, the flood maps are based on historic flood levels, and with increased frequency and intensity of rain events, and rising sea levels... well I'm sure they'll update those maps pretty frequently. Well, somewhat frequently, as funding allows. Well, OK, so funding is kind of scarce these days... um, maybe if we just loudly deny the existence and effects of global warming, nothing serious will happen until AFTER we retire.....