Mortgage and home insurance systems encourage development in places at climate risk, and we all pay the price

Last year was the most expensive year to date from weather-related disasters in the US, with more than 20 extreme weather events causing losses of more than $1 billion each. Two long-term trends are driving this price up: extreme weather events are more and more intense, and the US continues to build more and more expensive houses in risky places. In 2018, 42% of the US population lived in coastal counties (areas especially vulnerable to coastal storms and sea level rise), even though these counties make up only 10% of the country’s land area. This begs the question: Why do people build and buy houses in places that face predictable and persistent risk of climate-related disasters?

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