ABC News, 29th October 2008
A climate change scientist says real estate agents have threatened to make his life difficult if he continues to publish research about how vulnerable particular properties are to rising sea levels and coastal erosion.
Professor Andrew Pitman works at the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of New South Wales.
He says real estate agents do not like potential buyers asking questions about climate change based on his research.
Professor Pitman has told the ABC’s Local Radio that several agents have asked him to stop talking about how vulnerable certain properties are.
“More explicitly [they said] ‘We’re nervous about our particular market niche in a particular suburb’,” he said.
“And, ‘We are going to start making your life difficult if you keep pointing to climate change affecting our particular location’.”
Professor Pitman says he will now change the way he refers to his research even though the science is robust.
“I feel fairly secure in general statements about sea level rise and general statements about properties that are very close to the water being more vulnerable,” he said.
“But I won’t now point to specific locations as being a particularly sensitive, although it’s not very difficult to find out what those [properties] would be.”
He says with an expected 40 per cent rise in sea levels by 2050, properties that are close to the water will be more vulnerable.
Professor Pitman says he suspects the owners of beachfront properties that are at risk, or shoreline properties that are already frequently flooded, already know that they are at risk from rising sea levels.
Tim McKibbon from the Real Estate Institute says it is the first he has heard of agents trying to silence Professor Pitman.
“I have no knowledge of it. He hasn’t named anybody,” he said.
As a result, Mr McKibbon says it is difficult to substantiate the claim, but he is not aware that Professor Pitman’s research is under threat.