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My NPR Interview on the Micro Economics of Climate Change Adaptation

Wednesday, April 5, 2017 6:33
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(Before It's News)

I'll be interviewed this morning on KERA NPR radio about my new Brookings Hamilton Project Paper on urban climate change adaptation.     My March 2017 paper allowed me to present a sequel to my 2010 Climatopolis book.  The 2017 version is more nuanced and more focused on the urban poor and urban poor places.  While I am highly confident that Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk can adapt and remain productive in our hotter, riskier future — it is a very fair question to ask how Newark, New Jersey will cope,  how will poor people in Norfolk, Virginia cope?   This new Brookings paper is focused on the evolving quality of life of urban poor places and urban poor people.

At the heart of my new work are “frictions”.  In a world of durable capital (i.e buildings live for 100 years and we have built them in the wrong places with the wrong materials, relative to what we would build now if we could start out fresh), in a world of migration costs (less educated, older people are the least mobile),  how do we place defense against an ambiguous threat?  Who pays these costs?  If you are not a libertarian (stating that it is “every man for himself”), how do you design incentives to minimize spatial moral hazard effects?  How do we build in more “option value” so that we can reverse past investments if we learn these investments face increased risk (i.e the ability to put coastal real estate structures on stilts or disassemble them and move them to higher ground).


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