The Smart Money is on Science

3rd of 5 parts on climate change and real estate

Who Do You Trust?

In all the post-election analysis of Republican prospects, much is made of their demographic futility. Non-whites, women and young people don’t subscribe, and old white men are a non‑renewable political resource. But their scientific futility is perhaps more important. Science is with climate change, the public is increasingly with science, but Republicans have been slower than others to get on board. By a kind of natural selection, only politicians who remain within the ambit of public opinion can survive. In this

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context, public opinion is becoming green. The implications for real estate should be obvious.

Can’t Buy Love

The finance / insurance / real estate sector (FIRE) is a massive political contributor — $440 million between the two parties in 2012. Leaning Republican, but decreasingly so, since 1996, FIRE made a huge bet on Republicans in 2012 —

and lost. In driving these contributions, it’s a fair guess that environmental policies weighed less than taxes and spending (topics of interest to the real estate industry that we can take up in future posts). Yet fiscal considerations are transitory. They’ll be different in 2016, but environmental conditions will only become more urgent over time. This is an issue that will be in our politics from now on, and a consensus is emerging that leans toward governmental activism and away from laissez-faire. 2012 suggests that money

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alone will not overcome public opinion at the federal level. Political contributions will not significantly forestall the greening of real estate.

Facts are Stubborn Things

So, politicians, consider: once people see that your beliefs are at odds with science, the majority will learn to ignore you. Rape victims can become pregnant. Mankind has descended from other species. The earth is warming as a result of human activity. And polling tells us that Americans have

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begun to accept the science of climate change (Yale, National Wildlife Federation).

Hurricanes, droughts, floods, death, suffering and loss speak powerfully. Denial is weak. It cannot dispute physics. It cannot match 1,000 words

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against one picture of lower Manhattan. Science does not accept proof from politics and isn’t seduced by fantasy. Science won’t be bluffed or bullied, doesn’t compromise and can’t be shouted down. Politicians who lag the public on matters of science are in danger of irrelevance. Those who run against the planet in 2016 (more so even than those who run against birth control) are on a fool’s errand.

In real estate development, construction, and operation there are enormous opportunities for energy conservation. Government will increase regulation in these areas with majority support from the public. Call it earth-friendly or economically imperative, investors who embrace the

greening of real estate can profit by getting ahead of the curve. Denial and resistance are dead ends.

Part 3 of 5