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New study projects sea level rise to drain Florida’s financial future

One million Florida properties are projected to become chronically flooded: properties that today fund nearly 30% of local revenues for more than half of the state’s municipalities, according to a new study conducted by researchers at Cornell and Florida State Universities.

As sea level rise drowns those properties, the state can expect to lose a combined assessed value of $619 billion this century, the study’s authors write, and that figure’s likely a significant underestimation.

The study’s statewide survey also revealed that for the most part, Florida’s local government planners and managers don’t realize how drastically climate change will impact them financially.

But the study’s authors write they hope their work can serve as a “wake-up call” for state and local governments.

“We’re not forecasting a future; what we’re doing is letting people get ahead of that future, we hope, so that local governments can start to say: ‘hey, wait a minute, we need to be preparing ourselves,’” said co-author William Butler, an associate professor of urban and regional planning at Florida State University.