Sunday, March 29, 2009

California must act now to save the coastline

An editorial in the Monterey County Herald (California): The headlines were alarming in many California newspapers two weeks ago: …The occasion was the release of an obviously alarming report by the Pacific Institute, a respected Oakland think tank, about global warming's impact on California's coastline by the end of the century. It is the first of several studies commissioned by the state to assess the impacts of global warming on California life. Future studies will focus on drought, snowpack, wildfires and other climate-related issues.

…Whether the projections prove realistic or fanciful, we would be foolhardy not to respond in some orderly and relatively united fashion. In various combinations, there would seem to be three major courses of potential action.

The first, and seemingly the most logical, is for California to continue and even step up its pioneering efforts to combat global warming.

…The second course, every bit as logical as the first, is to accept global warming and systematically begin moving people, structures and infrastructure out of the ocean's path wherever possible while strengthening existing measures to discourage coastal construction, especially in low-lying areas.

…The third obvious tack is to accept the warming trend and begin to fortify the coast to protect the status quo. The Pacific Institute study concluded that California would need about 1,100 miles of new or modified structures such as dikes, seawalls and bulkheads to protect against the potential flooding. That cost is estimated at $14 billion, plus annual maintenance expenses of about 10 percent of construction costs.

That strategy, however, might be summarized as destroying the coast in order to save it. Until and unless someone comes along to disprove the global warming theory, our vote is for a combination of options one and two.

The Monterey Marina in Monterey Bay, shot by mamamusings, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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