Sea level rise is becoming a dominant theme as communities plan for climate change. On the East Coast of the United States, the eroding shorelines of Miami and the projected loss of billions of dollars of upscale homes has come to symbolize personal loss that is now at risk from global warming. For many of us, it is the storms and the catastrophic destruction that places like New Jersey (Hurricane Sandy, 2012) and South Florida have experienced that we think of when it comes to the implications of rising seas.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, however, sea level change presents a more insidious threat – one that isn’t limited to the loss of select homes with million dollar views. Rising seas threaten the very land mass that houses the Bay Area’s famed tech industry and the infrastructure that supports it. Dozens of companies like Yahoo, Google, Intuit, Dell, Cisco and Oracle sit either inside, or on the edge of the South Bay’s most vulnerable, predominately flat coastline. Other companies, like Facebook, NASA, Citrix and Intel sit outside the immediate flood zones or have thoughtfully placed their facilities above the shoreline, but would still be affected by flooded streets, accessways and airport facilities. Sea level change is a risk that affects not just the South Bay, but larger metropolises north of the region like San Francisco and Oakland, also home to California’s tech titans.
In Canada, over 7 million Canadians live in coastal communities. ACT’s work on sea level rise has primarily been with the Coastal Cities at Risk (CCaR) project, a 5-year multinational research project to document these increased risks facing coastal cities. Learn more about our work with CCaR here.