Ready for some good news/bad news? Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.
Climate change is melting gigantic polar ice sheets the size of some small states in America, causing sea levels to rise, and having the potential to eventually inundate vast areas of heavily-populated coastal regions.
Now for the good news — and perhaps you spotted a clue in that previous paragraph, the word “potentially.”
What makes this good news comes in two parts. The first part is climate science, while universally accepted as gospel by the science community, still has its skeptics. The second part is most of us won’t be around to witness the havoc wrought by a warming planet and steadily rising sea levels.
So, even the good news is down-right discouraging.
One implication of climate trends is that California coastal areas will experience higher water in the years ahead. The best science predicts as much as a 10-inch sea level increase by 2030, more than 27 inches higher by 2060, and a staggering 60 inches-plus by 2100.
Those are worst-case scenarios, which we can’t simply blow off, because we live in California where worst-case can be and often is the norm.
If you would like to know more about the ramifications of expected climate-change-driven sea-level rise, Santa Barbara County’s Planning and Development Department is sponsoring a series of public workshops to discuss the aforementioned, potential impacts. The first of the sessions will be held next Thursday at the Rincon Beach Club in Carpinteria, beginning at 6 p.m.
Attendees can expect to be schooled on an extensive county report on climate change and sea-level increases, the gist of which is that if things happen the way the overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe they will happen, bad things will occur along our coast, mostly at South Coast locations because there are far more buildings and other infrastructure there than here in North County.
Here’s a small taste of the county’s report: “Under existing conditions, a 100-year wave event could potentially flood 125 oil and gas wells, and erode 121 wells. … By 2100 vulnerabilities escalate and 273 wells could be exposed … Flooding ... and erosion could cause failure of these wells and spill oil into Santa Barbara Channel.”
The most frightening aspect of that statement is its specificity.
Other potential impacts are explained: By 2100, sea-level incursion could swamp miles of county roads, affecting about a half-million traffic trips a month. Structures would be compromised, and coastal trails could be under water.
Some climate-change skeptics may have stopped reading a few paragraphs ago, but they would be missing important information. Few can deny that Earth’s climate is undergoing significant change. The main dispute seems to be over who or what is causing it.
In fact, cause and placing blame are far less important than being prepared for a future that is all-but-guaranteed to be different. That is what the county’s public workshops are all about — making sure county residents understand and can start preparing for what’s to come. The full county report can be accessed at: bit.ly/2w191Mf.
That’s an online mouthful, but it is interesting and illuminating reading.