So Is It Flooding or Drying?

So is it time to stock up on
bottled water, or to buy a raft?

It’s hard work living in
California. On nearly a daily basis, residents are told they will either
continue to suffer from droughts, or are being told to prepare for the
impending massive flood on the way. According to a March report by the
Pacific Institute, around $100 billion
dollars worth of coastline property is in danger of being washed away.

This and more, according to “The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the
California Coast,” released by the Pacific Institute, a Oakland-based
think tank, which focused on climate change issues in its recent findings.
The PI focuses on three main areas of thought: “Water, Community Strategies
for Sustainability and Justice, and Globalization. In addition, the
Institute focuses on four initiatives: International Water and Communities,
Water Use in Business, Climate Impacts and Adaptation, and Integrity
of Science.”

According to the report, nearly 500,000 people are expected to be
affected by rising sea levels along the California coastline.
The report sounds the alarm that the state is in for a “1.4-meter
sea-level rise – if no adaptation actions are taken.”

The report
hypothesizes that poorer residents and some minorities are more “vulnerable”
to the possible changes ahead… if changes are not made. Note: keep
in mind the words of the report’s disclaimer: the report was funded
by the EPA, the state Energy Commission, the Metropolitan Transportation
Commission, the state Department of Transportation and the California
Ocean Protection Council. These agencies “make no warrant, express
or implied, and assume no responsibility or liability for the results
of any actions taken or other information developed based on this paper,
nor does any party represent that the uses of this information will
not infringe upon privately owned rights.”

The Executive Summary of the report
states that with climate change, the “mean sea level” will rise
between 1 meter and 1.4 meters by 2100, owing to forecasted increased
“flooding and erosion.” With a 1.4
meter rise in sea level, 480,000 people will be “at risk of a 100
year flood event,” particularly in Orange County, San Mateo County
and Alameda County. The paper also finds that that “nearly $100 billion
(in year 2000 dollars) worth of property… is at risk of flooding…
if no adaptation actions are taken.” According to the authors, about
two thirds of the $100 billion in property is “concentrated” in
the San Francisco Bay Area, the majority of which “is residential.”

“Coastal armoring,” or
reinforcing, is projected to cost only $14 billion (again, “in year
2000 dollars”), while putting a stop to “continued developments
in vulnerable areas” is another suggestion smiled upon.

The question
does arise, however: with the growing population of California, would
it not be more harmful to new residents, if there is a moratorium on
coastline building, thus allowing for raised prices on the properties
already there? (Supply and demand, supply and demand…) Being good
environmental stewards is an important responsibility that goes with
the benefit of living on the coast, but at what cost, one must wonder.