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Expand chart
Data: Climate Central; Chart: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

One of the key questions addressed in the Fourth National Climate Assessment is one of timing: When will the U.S. begin to feel the impacts of global warming?

The answer is unsettling, because it's past tense. We've been seeing the impacts, in the form of hotter and longer-lasting heat waves as well as sea-level rise and more frequent coastal flooding, for years.

Why it matters: We're not responding in the ways climate experts hope we will, at least not yet.

"This is a risk management problem par excellence," said Princeton's Oppenheimer. "We would have to be incredibly irresponsible" not to take action in light of what is known about climate change, he said, speaking of both adaptation to climate impacts today and emissions cuts.

The trends: According to a new report from Climate Central and the real estate data firm Zillow, in more than 50% of coastal states, homes are being built at a faster rate in areas at risk of flooding from sea-level rise than the rate of new homes in safer areas.

  • Overall, they say about 386,000 current coastal U.S. homes are expected to be at risk of regular flooding by 2050, because of rising seas caused mainly by climate change.
  • With increased sea-level rise through the year 2100, 2.5 million homes — worth $1.3 trillion — would be subjected to regular flooding if emissions continue to increase unchecked.
  • Harris County, Texas, home to Houston, is building homes in flood-prone areas at 1.4 times the rate that it is building homes in non-flood-prone areas.
  • On the other hand, Brunswick County, North Carolina, is building homes in flood-prone areas at 1/5th the rate as in non-flood-prone areas.

"It’s difficult to plan for higher seas if you are busy digging deeper holes," said Benjamin Strauss, CEO and chief scientist of Climate Central, in a press release.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).

COP26 head warns Glasgow summit will be "harder than Paris"

Alok Sharma, U.K. COP26 president, in Milan on Sept. 30, 2021. Photo: Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

U.K. COP26 President Alok Sharma told reporters Tuesday that the upcoming talks in Glasgow, widely viewed as the last chance to avoid some of the worst consequences of global warming, will be extremely difficult.

Driving the news: Sharma sought to temper expectations and note that the agenda features some of the toughest items that negotiators have punted on at previous summits.

5 hours ago - World

Scoop: Blinken protests Israel settlements approval in "tense" phone call

Benny Gantz (L) and Tony Blinken. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/Pool/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken protested the decision to approve 3,000 new housing units in Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank during a tense phone call on Tuesday with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, three Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: This is the first time new construction in the settlements has been approved since President Biden assumed office, and the Biden administration had been privately pressing the Israeli government not to proceed.