Ocean levels have been consistently rising in the United States, so maybe people should reconsider buying that beachfront second home, right?
It turns out the rising ocean levels have many more implications on the US economy, particularly in regions such as California, according to eye-opening new studies cited in a series in The Contra Costa (California) Times.
Studies show ocean levels have risen seven inches off the California's Golden Gate in the past century, after rising about two inches per century since the last ice age. With melting glaciers and ice caps throughout the world, the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating in the upper range of what has been previously predicted.
California has been mapping since the fall how these rising sea levels, which are likely to accelerate even more with continued global warming, will impact everything from the state's water supply to its transportation infrastructure. It turns out that if the upper limit of ocean levels is reached as projected by the end of this century, portions of cities and virtually the major Bay Area airports in San Francisco and Oakland would be under water.
Storms, which contribute powerful tidal surges, would only make matters worse. Currently California faces less damage to coastal flooding than do states along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast, markets where insurers have been pulling out of because of heavy recent hurricane-induced flood losses over the past years.
Policy to address global climate change, such as California's historic carbon emission-reducing AB 32, is a smart way to begin to mitigate major potential risks to the US economy from rising sea levels. California's coast and low-lying areas include much of the state's most valuable real estate along with its most valuable financial and high-tech industry centers.
Even the Pentagon is concerned about the implications that global warming-induced flooding may have for our national security. In fact, it was a Department of Defense-commissioned study in early 2004 conducted by the Global Business Network that helped to convince California state officials of the very real economic and security threat that global climate change represented.
So the Pentagon and the state with the largest population and economy are projecting global climate change-induced scenarios that may change our lives dramatically over the coming decades.
Should we take global climate change seriously, or do we continue to do business as usual until our ability to do business will be abruptly halted, as it was with Hurricane Katrina?