Bay Area Voters Will Decide Next Month If They Want To Pay To Adapt To Sea Level Rise
By Paul Homewood
From the loons at Climate Progress:
California has long been a leader in tackling climate change. But in June, voters in the San Francisco Bay area will have the chance to take their state’s commitment to addressing the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation a step further.
Measure AA, which will be on the June 7 ballot in nine counties in the Bay Area, seeks to improve the health of the San Francisco Bay by instituting a tax on Bay Area citizens. The tax, which would amount to a property tax of $12 a year, or $1 a month, would fund projects to remove pollution and toxins from the bay and improve habitat along the bay’s shore. That in and of itself is important: the San Francisco Bay is plagued by mercury, pharmaceuticals, runoff from cars and trucks, and trash — a 2012 study found that the bay takes in 1.36 million gallons of trash every year.
This is an extremely forward-thinking solution to climate adaptation
But the tax, which is expected to raise $500 million in the next 20 years, would also tackle a more dire threat to San Francisco residents: sea level rise. The money would go towards projects that would “provide nature-based flood protection through wetland and habitat restoration along the Bay’s edge and at creek outlets that flow to the Bay,” and “build and/or improve flood protection levees that are a necessary part of wetland restoration activities.”
“This is an extremely forward-thinking solution to climate adaptation,” said Garrison Frost, spokesman for Audubon California, one of several environmental organizations supporting the measure. The state of California has done a lot to address climate change, he said, but so far its efforts to adapt to climate change haven’t quite caught up to its efforts to mitigate it. That’s where initiatives like this come in. “There are a lot of things happening in state capital right now on adaptation … [the state] is incredibly proactive, but frankly, budgets are tight,” he said.
And adapting to climate change — and the sea level rise that accompanies it — is essential for a coastal state like California. According to the National Research Council, sea levels off the coast of much of California are projected to rise by about three feet over the next hundred years. That’s higher than the average projected sea level rise for the rest of the world, and will leave the coast more vulnerable to storm surges and waves. That includes San Francisco Bay: according to the NRC report, which was published in 2012, the Bay Area could see an increase of “extreme water heights” from nine hours per decade now to hundreds of hours per decade by 2050, and thousands of hours per decade by 2100.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, sea levels at San Francisco in the last 160 years have been rising at a sedate rate of 1.94mm/year.
And far from accelerating the rate of increase has been slowing down in the last half century.
The real pity is that the money they want to waste on a non existent problem could have been spent on the other, very real environmental problems, which they have identified. Things like pollution and toxins.