Explaining global warming to home buyers

Even in this period of housing crisis (or maybe just because of it) buying a house may be a wise investment if you can afford it without a big mortgage! The task is made easier by the Internet, which lets us find the best deal with just a few clicks.

As an example, let's look at the cases of three not-so-imaginary Italian average citizens, signori Rossi, Bianchi and Verdi, who are thinking about purchasing a house for their summer holidays in some Italian seaside city. Signor Rossi, willing to invest his money in some way a bit less risky than some Enron-like stock, goes online and quickly finds help from a real estate agency on Elba Island, off the coast of Tuscany, whose home page declares: "Real estate in Portoferraio (Elba's main city) is beyond doubt a wise way to invest your money, since you're certain that the value of your home will only increase in the future".

Signor Bianchi is in the same situation but prefers the famous Riviera Romagnola, on Italy's eastern coast. No problem! Two more clicks lead him to the webpage of a local real estate agency where he could find (on December 30th, 2009) a really promising "130 sq. meters apartment with a 250 sq. meters garden at walking distance from the beach" in Villamarina di Cesenatico.

Signor Verdi, instead, has slightly different requirements. Being a politician with a brilliant career ahead he needs something simple and comfy, but closer to the Italian Parliament in Rome and suitable for official parties. Again, no problema! Other ten seconds online and we find (on January 20th, 2010) a nice, small cabin in Sabaudia that seems custom-built for him: "two floors, 500 sq. meters garden, direct access to the beach, completely remodeled with top-class materials, price 1.5 millions Euro".

So, what's the problem?

The Internet is great when you're house-hunting, isn't it? But only if you, unlike these three gentlemen, do use it to thoroughly check the shrewdness of certain purchases. Had they done it, they would have immediately found a really interesting and very to use map. One that shows, if this global warming story isn't a complete scam, that Portoferraio, Villamarina di Cesenatico and Sabaudia may all end up being partially underwater in the next decades. Nothing to worry, however: those maps show the effects of a one meter increase in the average sea level, so if the increase will be much less than that they'll have waves in their beds only with heavy sea, rather than on a daily basis. You can see what higher sea levels and all other effects of blogal warming look like also at GlobalWarmingArt, in the map of the London Science Museum or (USA only) at Architecture2030.

What does all this mean?

The only goal of this little story is to encourage you to think seriously about 3 or 4 things that (regardless of your own conclusion) it wouldn't be smart to ignore. One is that ecological problems are connected to normal, daily life in ways which we very easily overlook, as I already noted when speaking of global warming and the right to holidays.

Then there's the fact that these are problems that for all of us, now. Including people living very far from coastlines or unable to purchase any home, as ten minutes spent reading about all the possible effects of climate changes will demonstrate. To understand why I said "now", please do forget for a moment the current housing crisis and compare average salaries, house prices and global warming forecasts in Italy and many other parts of the world.

You'll immediately see that there may be only time for two mortgages before someone is seriously busted. No, make that one. Before accepting to spend the next 30 or 40 years of your life with a mortgage, only because you're sure that, when it'll be over, you'll find some other guy ready to do the same thing, remember that (again, even if the current housing crisis had never happened!) people may tell you "No Way! Why should I buy something that, when MY mortgage will be over, will be regularly flooded?"

The last thing to remember from reading this story is to always use also the Internet to get adequate information before making important decisions, from trusting any political candidate to buying a home. Think how great it would be if, before committing to buy a home you could check not just if it'll go underwater but also its walkability, constant access to drinkable water and much more, all in one page. The first real estate agency to offer such a service will make serious money.

Final, reassuring note

People who, from the maps mentioned above, just discovered that that house near the beach they already bought will become a small pool shouldn't despair. They're in the same boat with somebody so much wiser and competent than average people that he'll surely find a complete solution way before, together with their houses, even some Italian landmarks go underwater.It is a Certosa (*), I mean, certain thing!!!

(*) Explanation of the joke: that “Italian landmark” is Villa Certosa, Silvio Berlusconi’s mansion in Sardinia.