Aug. 27, 2013 San Francisco Bay Rising Sea Levels Strategies

Commonwealthlogo3 Bourgeois John Grossinger Robin Lowe Jeremy
On Tuesday August 27, 2013 in San Francisco, the Commonwealth Club hosted “Protecting Our Communities, Infrastructure and the Bay.” Lilian Nakagawa of GCA Law Partners moderated panelists Robin Grossinger, Senior Scientist at the San Francisco Estuary Institute, Jeremy Lowe, Coastal Geomorphologist at ESA PWA and John Bourgeois, Restoration Ecologist of the State Coastal Conservancy, Executive Project Manager of the South Bay Salt Pond Restoration Project.  The panel discussed how accelerating climate change and rising sea levels will affect Bay Area communities, infrastructure, and wetlands. The bay is a valley that has been flooding and getting bigger over the years. In the past hundred years large human engineering projects have tried to control this process and will eventually fail. They think there is another way to meet this challenge. We can treat natural processes as infrastructure and use existing resources like dredged sediment, wastewater and restored wetlands to deal with increasing flooding over the next century. 
 
Ultimately the flooding may require a retreat to higher ground. According to an article this week by Chris Mooney of Mother Jones magazine, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2013 Summary for Policymakers report concludes it is “extremely likely” that humans are behind global warming over the past sixty years. While the panel thought it possible that Bay Area sea levels could rise at least one meter by 2100, the Policymakers report said long-term, sea level rise could be 5 to 10 meters. “Add it all up, and what that means is that if we exceed 2 degrees of warming beyond pre-industrial levels, then we could be looking at radically higher oceans, and submerged coastal cities, in the long run. And just how close are we to exceeding 2 degrees Celsius? Several scenarios used for the draft report project “high confidence” that we’ll get there by the end of the century. At that point, seas would continue to rise well beyond the year 2100, and by much more than three feet. “
 
Should homebuyers keep flooding in mind when they buy a house in the Bay Area?
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