Climate change denial as real estate ploy?

Climate change denial as real estate ploy? July 16, 2012

What is John Droz’s end-game?

I’m assuming he has one. I’m assuming here that Droz — “a real estate investor who owns properties along the North Carolina coast” — has some kind of long-term plan in mind.

Apart from being a wealthy coastal developer, Droz is also involved in the lucrative business of climate-change denialism. As the Institute for Southern Studies reports:

He is a senior fellow at the American Tradition Institute, a conservative think tank with ties to fossil fuel interests that promotes skepticism about global warming and renewable energy and has targeted a leading climate scientist with a controversial lawsuit.

Droz also served as the “scientific advisor” for the North Carolina anti-regulation lobby NC-20, “which is comprised of development interests in the state’s 20 coastal counties.” That’s the group behind the now-infamous bill “that would block North Carolina agencies from considering the latest science of sea-level rise in making planning decisions.”

That bill has been widely mocked because it is so utterly mockable. Confronted with scientific evidence of increased flooding due, in part, to rising sea levels and climate change, the bill addresses the problem by forbidding discussion of it.

Which brings us back to John Droz. He’s both the “scientific advisor” behind this head-in-the-sand approach and an investor with a great deal to lose once chronic flooding starts to wash away the value of his coastal property.

So one possibility is that John Droz is a staggeringly cynical and dishonest man currently pushing climate change denialism in order to preserve the short-term value of his properties in the hopes that he can sell them for more money before they eventually get swamped into worthlessness.

It’s also possible that Droz is acting both morally and rationally, but also arrogantly and ignorantly. In this scenario, Droz really believes the “contrarian” denialism promoted by his fossil-fuel industry supporters. And for whatever reason — defiant stubbornness, laziness, naiveté — he hasn’t bothered to do his homework or to check their assertions against the available facts. So due to his utter certainty — and maybe also due to his pride at being one of the very few people who “sees through” the scientific hoax — Droz invests everything he owns in coastal properties that those foolish, Al-Gore-loving scientists claim are in jeopardy.

The latter scenario is harder to believe because, as far as I know, John Droz has not tried suing the companies that insure all of his coastal properties. His insurance costs for this properties have gone up quite a bit over the past 15 years — in large part due to the increased risks of extreme weather and flooding due to climate change. If he really believes the gospel he’s preaching through the “American Tradition Institute,” then he ought to believe he has a solid case against those rate increases and he ought to be taking those insurance companies to court.

So it seems more likely that Droz is just desperately denying that the millions he has invested in vulnerable coastal properties are really at risk. He doesn’t have to fool everyone — just enough people to find buyers for those properties before the next extreme weather event or before the full cost of increased coastal flooding becomes undeniable.

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