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Home Insurance Rates Soaring Due To Climate Change; Beyonce Drops New Album "Cowboy Carter"; Fish Around Florida Keys Are Spinning In Circles And Dying. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 29, 2024 - 13:30   ET




KRISTIN FISHER, CNN HOST: Now homeowners are sounding the alarm about the skyrocketing costs of home insurance. It's especially true for the millions of Americans living in areas that are at higher risk for extreme weather.

The U.S. saw a record 28 weather and climate disasters last year alone. I compare that to natural disasters from 1980 to 2023, when the typical annual average for these events was just 8.5.

And we're talking everything from beach erosion so severe that homes collapsed into the sea -- collapsed into the sea on the east coast, to hurricanes in Florida to wildfires and flash floods in California.

The costs of the 2023 natural disasters smashed all previous records with each disaster totaling over $1 billion.

An expert in the insurance industry says Americans saw a roughly 10 percent to 12 percent increase in their homeowner's insurance rates.

Joining me now to discuss is Josh Flagg, the star of "Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles."

Josh, thank you so much for being with us.

And I'd like to start by just getting your take on which states you think are being hit the hardest right now. And just how high these rates are rising.

JOSH FLAGG, STAR, "MILLION DOLLAR LISTING LOS ANGELES": We'll, I can -- I can't speak to all of the states, but I can unequivocally say the state of California has suffered tremendously.

I mean, most of the insurance companies have backed out actually and canceled policies for tons of my clients. Clients that live north of Sunset especially in Los Angeles, in the Baylor area in Beverly Hills and the hillside areas, it's become quite a big problem.

And this kind of started with fires a couple of years ago. And it just got worse. And is it something you -- just some people have to self- insure? You can't even get insurance. it's just a -- it's insane. FISHER: That's crazy.

So I mean, walk us through exactly how these high premiums are affecting your clients' ability to just buy and sell their homes.

FLAGG: Well, I mean, here's the issue. Like, you know, if you're south of Sunset, for example -- I bring up Sunset Boulevard because that's where the hillside area starts.

If you're in the flats or an area like that, insurance really is not much higher than it used to be. It's actually quite easy to obtain.

But for clients that want to be in the areas that are in the hills, it's -- sometimes I'll have conversations with them, like, OK, well, we don't want to go into the hills because it has just gotten so exorbitantly expensive.

I mean, insurance that would have, years ago, a couple of years, would have been made $20,000 a year, could be $80,000 to $100,000, $80,000, 100,000, $120,000. Yes. I mean, it's as much as people are paying in property taxes.

FISHER: Right. And so what do you do? I mean, let's say that you're a homeowner with a mortgage, I mean, you can't just completely forego insurance, right?

You touched on this but, I mean, what -- what do you do?


FLAGG: A lot of people are ensuring the properties for less money than they used to, which is, you know, kind of a sucky situation when you have a multimillion-dollar house and you don't want to spend $100,000 a year on insurance.

So you just pray that the house doesn't burn down and you insure it for less than it actually is worth. People self-insure it. There's different ways.

I mean, there are insurance carriers out there. It's just made it ten times more difficult to do it. And it's just it's really become a disaster.

It's somewhat affected the values of homes north of Sunset and in the hillside areas. Not tremendously, but it has -- maybe I shouldn't say affected the values. It's made it a lot harder and takes a lot longer to sell the property.

FISHER: I see.

So big picture here, where do you think this is all going? Do you think it's going to get worse? I mean, how do you think these climate- related insurance hikes are going to impact the housing market down the road?

FLAGG: You know, I don't think it's going to tremendously affect it only because it's something that you just can't -- it's -- there's nothing you can do about it.

You know, it's kind of like, with -- in Los Angeles, we have like the ULA tax and we have so many different things that have come about. People are still buying houses. I mean, nothing is going to ever kill a market. It just makes it a lot more difficult. And it just adds another wrench.

And between the ULA tax and now we have a wildlife ordinance, interest rates that are higher, it's -- just overall, it makes things more difficult and it makes things take longer to sell.

But luckily, at least in California, there's a strong market here and we're not having anything that happened like in 2008 when the market crashed.

FISHER: Yes. No, I mean, it's definitely just making it so much more difficult and so much more expensive to buy and sell homes.

Josh Flagg, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your expertise with us. We really appreciate it.

FLAGG: You're welcome. Thanks.

FISHER: So -- thanks.

So coming up, "Cowboy Carter" makes its big debut. Everything we know about Beyonce's foray in the country music, including a Beatles cover and a remix of a Dolly Parton classic.



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Hold your horses because Beyonce just dropped a new album, "Cowboy Carter," who -- her new work diving deep into the country music genre and beyond, exploring and reclaiming the rich roots of African-American history and its influence in the cowboy culture of the south.

FISHER: And the album features a special interlude by the country queen herself, Dolly Parton, as she introduces Beyonce's cover of her hit song "Jolene."

Here's a little taste.




KEILAR: Oh, my gosh.

Joining us now, Beyonce super fan and CNN anchor, Victor Blackwell.

I am dying over this Dolly Parton interlude where she's talking about Becky with the good hair and likening her to Jolene. It's awesome.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: It really is always good to hear from Dolly P., as she refers to herself, on the album.

And you know, really, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, they're both in interludes on this album. I think they're there just to give the imprimatur from the legends there that they have blessed this project.

But when I initially heard "Texas Hold Them" and "16 Carriages" -- they came out around the time of the Super Bowl -- I expected like a contemporary country album.

And within those walls, this is not that. It is folk and pop and R&B and Hip Hop. There's -- there's opera on this album. It's really moving between the lines of genres.

And she also elevates black country artists, pairs up with some artists who move between genres, like Post Malone on "Levi's Jeans." And this is Beyonce with Miley Cyrus on one of my favorites on this album, "Two Most Wanted."





BLACKWELL: Yes, Bri and Kristin, it really is, you listening to some of these tracks and saying, well, this one sounds country, this would maybe could be country and pop. Really playing with the listener to say, do these lines, do these -- these titles and genres really matter?

FISHER: That's such a great point.

And you know, speaking of switching genres, one of the songs that's getting a lot of attention, Victor, is that cover of the Beatles' 1968 song, "Blackbird."

Let's listen to a quick sample and then I'll get your take on the other side.





FISHER: Victor, of all the Beatles songs, why "Blackbird"?" And who else is on it?

BLACKWELL: We'll, "Blackbird" really is a continuation of the culturally conscious music that Beyonce has made sense "Lemonade" in 2016, taking history and culture into context.

Here, she chooses this track. Paul McCartney says he wrote this in the late '60s, not about a bird, but about a black woman in the context of the civil rights movement and thinking about the plight of the black woman in America.

She then chooses this, brings in for black women country singers, and includes them to sing with her.


And in some portions, she's singing without them. It sounds like she's singing to them when she says, "You we're only waiting for this moment to arise."

One of those singers, Tiera Kennedy, is going to be with me tomorrow morning on "FIRST OF ALL," at 8:00 Eastern, and we'll hear about her experience recording this with Beyonce.

KEILAR: Yes, unbelievable. It's going to be so wonderful to listen to all of it in its entirety. I've not been able to yet. I've been sampling it as I walk through the halls here.


KEILAR: But, Victor, thank you so much.

FISHER: And, Victor, you look good. You're rocking the hat.


BLACKWELL: Appreciate it. Thank you. I think I've found something here.

KEILAR: You look good in the hat, my friend.


BLACKWELL: Appreciate it. Thanks.

FISHER: See you, Victor.

So new videos show fish spinning until they die. What scientists think may be causing this bizarre behavior.



KEILAR: Fish spinning in circles until they die and scientists are urgently trying to figure out why. The disturbing phenomenon is now putting some endangered species at risk of extinction.

CNN's Bill Weir is in the Florida Keys with details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) GREGG FURSTENWERTH, FLORIDA KEYS LIFETIME RESIDENT: I started diving when I was eight years old with my mom, so I've been in the water for a very long time.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gregg Furstenwerth has seen a lot in his life spent underwater around the Florida Keys but he'd never seen anything like this.

FURSTENWERTH: I noticed the fish were spinning and so I started taking video of that. But I really had no idea what I was looking at.

WEIR: Since last fall, he's seen stingrays moving upside down, Goliath groupers flailing on their sides, and dozens of other species swimming in tortured flailing loops.

FURSTENWERTH: Well, I mean, I've said that, you know, it's like I'm in the middle of a disaster movie and I'm that guy yelling from the mountain top, trying to get people to pay attention.

WEIR: State Fish and Wildlife officials, and Florida's Bonefish and Tarpon Trust have logged nearly 200 incidents with over 30 species acting this way, mostly in the lower Keys but as far north as Miami.

MICHAEL ROLPH, CAPTAIN, MYKEYS TOURS: Yes, this is crazy. I was out on a six-hour charter, I had two people on the boat, and we we're down off a ligament by the bank and we've happened to see a fish floundering on the flats.

And then, so we got close to him. We wanted to see if there was a problem. And we could obviously tell that he was in distress.

WEIR: It turned out to be a sawfish, a critically endangered species that might lose four or five mature adults a year. But in just a few months, at least 27 have beached themselves or died after intense episodes of what anglers are calling the spins.

ADAM CATASIUS, RESEARCHER, THE WATER SCHOOL AT FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: So typically, when we think of fish acting strangely or dying, we there think of low oxygen conditions in the water or red tide. And so we saw neither.

WEIR: At The Water School, Florida Gulf Coast University, Mike Parson's team is part of a statewide effort to solve the mystery of the spinning fish.

And while tests for most toxins have turned up empty, the most promising suspect is found living off seaweed at the bottom. A tiny critter named Gambierdiscus.

MIKE PARSONS, PROFESSOR, THE WATER SCHOOL AT FLORIDA GULF COAST UNIVERSITY: This is the highest we've seen of the Gambierdiscus cells of the Keys. We don't know if it's the main cause.

WEIR: The single-cell algae can produce various neurotoxins and is showing up at record-high levels. But it's just one more stressor on Marine life already reeling from pollution, overfishing, and off-the- charts ocean heatwaves brought by climate change.

FURSTENWERTH: So there's concern and curiosity, I guess, on, could the hot, hot temperatures in the summer cause some changes that may be led to the fish behavior now? And we just don't really have all the pieces together to try to link one for the other.

WEIR: They really have no idea what is happening. I mean, there is no concrete conclusive proof of what is happening yet. And that is still to be determined, which is quite terrifying.

CATASIUS: It is scary, isn't it?

WEIR: It is because, if it continues, it's going to be the end of this ecosystem as we know it.


WEIR: Brianna, there is a perplexing ecological mystery unfolding down here in the Florida Keys: What is causing the fish to spin in crazy ways? And dozens of different species?

People started observing this kind of behavior back in the fall, October, November or so. And they've seen it in pinfish and Goliath grouper and Tarpon and bonefish and sawfish, the big, endangered sort of prehistoric-looking guy with the funny snout.

Normally, they lose about five of those a year. This year, they've lost a couple of dozen. So that's really troubling, given the low numbers of that endangered species.

And they know it's not red tide. They know it's not Algae blooms that you've seen in years past. It's not man-made pollution in an obvious way, like an oil spill.

It could be the temperature. The ocean temperatures are off the charts right now as a result of global warming. That could be part of a cascading effect.

But the number-one suspect right now is a tiny little single-cell creature that lives at the bottom of the ocean. It eats seagrass and different plant life at the bottom, called Gambierdiscus.

And it creates a neurotoxin that has caused strange behavior and fish in sort of controlled settings, wondering if it has been super charged as a result of the heat. The levels are higher than normal.


But nobody knows for sure. And it can take months of scientists' sort of kicking in what they can to figure this thing out.

Right now, there are no warnings against eating Florida seafood, no warnings against swimming in these beautiful waters in the Keys here.

But it's just one of those odd things, like something out of an apocalyptic thriller, where nature's trying to warn us of something right now.

But the sea creatures down here are about under as much stress as you can imagine from all different fronts, chemicals, from human stresses, from global warming, all these things.

And right now, we're seeing just the behavior that has scientists honestly scratching their heads -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Bill Weir, thank you so much for highlighting that problem we're seeing there in the Keys.

And coming up, we are standing by for an update on the Baltimore bridge collapse. A press conference expected to begin any minute.