California’s climate change bill could top $100 billion
Rising sea levels and extreme storms could displace 480,000 people and damage businesses and airports, a new study says.
At least $100 billion worth of homes, businesses, power plants, ports, and airports in California could be at risk from extreme coastal storms by 2010, estimates a new assessment of California’s vulnerability to rise in sea levels.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Some 480,000 people living in coastal counties could be affected, according to the study.
The report, released Wednesday, is part of a larger state effort to assess the full spectrum of risks it faces from global warming and to begin to outline adaptation strategies that planners should consider. It’s the latest in a growing number of efforts nationwide to figure out what needs to be done along the heavily populated coasts to prepare for rising sea levels.
The study represents “an incredible effort to pull together an enormous amount of data,” says Reinhard Flick, a research associate at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif., and an oceanographer with the California Department of Boating and Waterways. “It will be very useful going forward as a reference.”
The new assessment comes at a time when the National Research Council in Washington has called on climate scientists in the United States to place increased focus on research to support adaptation efforts.
Globally, recent sea level rise has been outpacing projections made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007, several climate researchers have said. At a meeting in Copenhagen, Denmark this week, researchers suggested that sea levels could rise by 1 meter (3.3 feet) or more by 2100, the result of global warming’s direct heating of the ocean as well as glaciers melting in Greenland and Antarctica.
Who’s most vulnerable?
For the California study, researchers at the Pacific Institute, an environmental policy research organization in Oakland, Calif., asked the question: With a 1.4-meter sea level rise, who and what would be affected by a 100-year coastal storm at today’s population levels?
What emerges is a picture of a coastal state that may not carry the heaviest risk given California’s population, area, or wealth. And with a 2,000-mile coastline – once the kinks and bends get ironed out – the likelihood of a single 100-year storm slamming the entire coast all at once is pretty slim.