The Guardian has an article on sea level rise with a focus on the reality-defying real estate boom in Miami and coastal Florida.
People seem puzzled about the prevalence of denial in coastal regions in some countries. I think you will find that these countries have notions about real estate as entirely private property with little or no public obligation or warrantee. In such countries, it is economically rational for owners of threatened property to promote denial, and other interests benefiting from high real estate values are comparably motivated. That is, the value of their real estate depends not so much on a lack of sea level rise as the value depends on a lack of perception that sea level rise is real within the relevant markets.
Another problem is that insurance will never “total” your property the way it will your car. The coverage is traditionally designed to allow you, in the worst case, to rebuild on the same property. It isn’t designed to protect you in the event your property becomes uninhabitable. So after a disaster you can be “under water” in more senses than one – even after the value of the construction is paid to you, you may own or even owe on a property whose value is effectively zero or negative.
Accordingly, when Katrina flooded New Orleans, there was talk about “whether to rebuild” below sea level. But the choice was never available at the collective level. Each individual had the choice whether to rebuild or not. The property remained in private hands, and there was no plausible mechanism to relocate the population.
A good thing, as this is New Orleans, after all. And New Orleans seems to have shrugged off the blow and to remain as strange and creative and unique as ever. But the point is, unlike elsewhere, in America we have set things up so we have no realistic choice but to rebuild in place. What happens when the place ceases to exist.