BLACK MAG: ‘Climate Gentrification’ Could Price Black People Out Of Their Homes

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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Black activists in southern Florida worry man-made global warming will change the makeup of traditionally minority communities in the greater Miami area, according to a black online magazine.

The Root published the first in a three-part series on the way “race, climate and gentrification intersect and impact black communities in Miami.” The article reports how activists, like Paulette Richards, are trying to get residents of Liberty City worried about future sea level rise.

Because of global warming “[h]igher ground becomes essential—and more valuable—as coastal communities in the United States battle chronic flooding as a result of rising sea levels,” The Root reported, quoting University of Miami professor George Eberli who said sea level is “about four millimeters per year or even a bit faster.”

“That means in six years, that’ll be about an inch higher in sea level,” Eberli said. “And in 60 years, 10 inches or in 70 years a foot higher. So it is pretty fast, even if it doesn’t seem like a lot per year.”

Activists worry this will price out residents of lower income neighborhoods. But even The Root noted there’s pretty much no evidence of “climate gentrification” right now.

Florida International University’s Hugh Gladwin has been looking for signs that climate is changing the makeup of neighborhoods, and hasn’t seen much evidence global warming is gentrifying parts of Miami.

“What you look for in gentrification with mapping are places that were priced low, stayed low and then jumped up,” Gladwin told The Root. “This is starting to happen here and there and probably will accelerate, but we think it is not that much so far.”

“Or is the market still being moved by the crazy South Florida cycle?” Gladwin said.

Environmentalists and some scientists have been sounding the alarm on sea level rise in the Miami area for years, saying the city is on the “front lines” of global warming.

Liberty City sits 10-feet above seal level, so at current sea-level rise rates it would take decades before they are inundated with perpetual flooding, but even that assumes not a single person does anything to mitigate flooding — not to mention sea level rise not changing.

Gentrification happens for a lot of reasons that have nothing to do with climate change. It’s often driven by people looking for more affordable places to live or invest in property. Overtime these once poorer areas are built up, raising property values and rents.

The Root reported “[s]ome see parallels to Miami in what happened to the predominantly black Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.”

“Hurricane Katrina came in and decimated neighborhoods. My fear is that the history of black folk will be eliminated,” activist La Tonda James said.

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