climate gentrification

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By JOSÉ MACHADO MOITA NETO*

Climate change will certainly increasingly influence the real estate market, making areas without risk of flooding “noble”

Before the advent of the internet, complex and difficult decisions were humorously minimized through apparent dilemmas or comparisons, for example: (a) “I don't know whether to marry or buy a bicycle”; (b) "marrying is better than being burned to death". Marriage was a complex decision because it brought a very long-term perspective (until death), involved social relations between the families of the bride and groom, and determined future economic horizons.

In complex decisions, all the conscious and unconscious fears that must be managed within a multifaceted rationality with some unavoidable obstacles and personal, family and collective values ​​on a collision course emerge. The best decisions taken in the present can always be criticized in the future, in a retrospective analysis, by the “ready-made engineers”. This often leads to the apparent courage of deciding just out of fear.

The gentrification process has been conceptualized for one of its effects: forming a gentry (of gentleman, “gentle nobility”) through the socio-spatial segregation of urban areas. Any social, cultural or economic mechanism that leads to the creation or transformation of urban areas into more homogeneous agglomerations can be included in this process. Special care must be taken so that the direct or indirect responsible for this gentrification process is not the public power itself.

When public power does not militate, through its municipal public policies, for inclusion and social justice, the result is the concentration of desired goods and services in “noble” regions due to the greater power of agency of its occupants with the municipal power. In the same way, environmental injustice or racism can happen,[I] for example, in the practice of planning sanitary landfills or sewage treatment plants in areas inhabited by the poor population, or even in the intentional omission of removing dumps from these areas.

In a democratic society, the transparency of participatory urban planning can reduce or end the public power's responsibility for gentrification, without, however, stopping it. The set of all fears contributes to the creation of a high standard real estate market that promises safety, comfort and distance from any individual who represents an unconscious psychological threat. The advertisement for these developments, surrounded by euphemisms, announces that your home will be a true “fantasy island” in the chaos of a city.

When the support network for overcoming these fears, sometimes legitimate, is not in the family, in the community or in political militancy for better conditions in the city, there is the illusion that the economic condition can guarantee, through the acquisition of goods and services, the tranquility of good living. Gentrification can also be a result of the liquid world, of liquid modernity, in the expression of Zygmunt Bauman.

Climate change will certainly increasingly influence this real estate market in two different ways: making areas without risk of flooding “noble”, for example, and making residential insurance in potentially affected areas much higher. This gentrification, induced by rational or irrational fear of climate change, will make dangerous areas cheaper to live in, attracting people with economic vulnerability who are willing to live the risk of not having home insurance in the event of an accident.

Socio-spatial segregation, for environmental reasons, already exists in many Brazilian cities. Climate gentrification is a specific type of socio-spatial segregation that can break county and even nation boundaries. If climate change brings fear to the richest classes, there will be an opportunity for the real estate market to create resort, of permanence and not just tourism, in safer countries in relation to this environmental problem, such as Brazil.

After all, finance capital will not get wet from rising oceans. In the past, for economic or religious reasons, countries like England and Holland have planted flags in other parts of the world. The next colonization may be due to climatic reasons. The poor and immigrants will not come to Brazil. They will stay to see the boat (island) sink, according to IPCC forecasts.[ii]

*José Machado Moita Neto is a retired professor at the Federal University of Piauí (UFPI) and a researcher at UFDPar.

Notes


[I] An example of academic work: https://www.scielo.br/j/cm/a/YTCqXDfLkBQWZzjGY7Q7DNd/

[ii] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

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