Sat, Apr

Sea Levels are Rising. California Needs to Get Serious about the Problem



WHAT THEY’RE SAYING-A new report from the state Legislative Analyst’s Office spotlights a dangerous incongruity in how California approaches two issues involving global warming: the push to reduce emissions of Earth-warming greenhouse gases and what to do about the already-rising seas. While the state has been an international leader on the former, it is woefully behind on the latter. California has not done what it should to prepare for coastal erosion, sea incursions into low-lying areas (including sensitive wetlands), storm-surge flooding of shore communities or the possible need for a forced retreat from imperiled developments at the ocean’s edge. (Photo above: San Diego coastal flooding.)

As the report points out, most of the decisions on how to adapt to rising seas belong to local governments, yet few are paying significant attention — even though estimates suggest a six-inch rise in sea level in the next decade, which, especially during storms and extreme tides, would increase flooding of many beach communities.

Municipalities need to get focused. In the face of such a significant threat, the state needs to work with a sense of urgency with local governments and the California Coastal Commission and other state agencies to forge strategies for countering or adapting to the rising seas. The legislative analyst’s report makes a number of recommendations, including creating regional “collaboration groups” so that local governments can work together — with the help of state funding — to assess vulnerable areas, craft pilot programs and run awareness campaigns to transform the public debate, among other steps. (Read the rest.)