News

Grand jury to county: Get going on addressing rising sea levels

 

Bay Area experts on climate change have long been saying that sea-level rise between now and the year 2100 is a long-term serious threat to San Mateo County. Now the county's civil grand jury has chimed in with its own report saying that the county is not organized to deal with existing flooding problems much less sea-level rise, and that it needs to get organized -- now.

The initial steps should include educating the public, setting up a single agency to deal with the issue countywide, getting the attention and involvement of the 20 local governments in the county, and engaging in a coordinated advocacy campaign at the regional, state and federal levels.

If sea levels rise by the 55 inches predicted by 2100, and if nothing is done, salt water flooding could threaten the jobs of 110,000 people, the report says. Flood waters could inundate the homes of 120,000 residents, six waste-water treatments plants, one power plant, 72 miles of highway, 420 miles of roadway, 10 miles of railroad track, 75 percent of existing wetlands, and 78 hazardous materials sites regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency, the report says.

The negative effect on tax revenues, while not known, would be severe, the report says.

In all, some $24 billion in infrastructure is threatened in San Mateo County, experts at the Pacific Institute said in a 2012 white paper for the California Energy Commission.

Severe flooding would be likely in Foster City and substantial parts of Redwood City and San Mateo, the grand jury says. Parts of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park would also be flooded.

Cities and towns should be amending their general plans to address sea-level rise, the report says.

Levees in the county have no coordinated oversight or funding sources, the report says. Adapting to higher seas may require more and better levees, buildings designed to cope with high water, restored wetlands, and even the abandonment of low-lying areas, the report says.

Because San Mateo County historically has had so much development of low-lying land, in the process destroying wetlands that could buffer flooding, the county represents 40 percent of the Bay Area's population and economic value that is vulnerable to flooding, according to the report.

The county and its local governments should organize an integrated approach to the problems of sea-level rise, thereby reducing overall costs. "By acting now to coordinate projects and funding sources, San Mateo County (and) the cities and local special districts will be preparing for the inevitable," the report says.

Click here for the complete report.

Comments

12 people like this
Posted by Belle stafford
a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens
on Jun 5, 2015 at 12:26 pm

Thank you for raising public awareness about sea level rising. There is an eye-opening documentary that was just screened in San Francisco, called ThuleTuvalu. The island nation of Tuvalu is the first real casualty of rising sea levels, their islands are being swallowed up the sea now and they are having to leave. Their culture will cease to exist. The best thing we can all do to combat global warming, rising sea level, AND the drought is to make the move to a plant based diet. Animal agriculture is the leading user of all our natures resources and is the number one cause of greenhouse gases, according to the UN and World Bank. Check out the book entitled Comfortably Unaware for more facts.


14 people like this
Posted by gunste
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Jun 5, 2015 at 1:42 pm

I really regretted to find that the US Capitol is at 55 feet above sea level. Wish it were at 5-10mfeet, so that Congress would consider that there is a problem with climate change and sea level rise. Same applies to the County.


10 people like this
Posted by Mary Haywood
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Weekend Acres
on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm

thank you Belle for the movie recommendation. You are correct. The best thing we can all do to combat global warming, rising sea level, AND the drought (which, in turn, will preserve the value of your home and local real estate investments) is to make the move to a plant based diet. Animal agriculture is the leading user of all our natural resources and is the number one cause of greenhouse gases, according to the UN and World Bank. Check out the movie and website called "Cowspiracy" it is totally eye-opening...lots of great facts on the website...


Like this comment
Posted by Tippy Feldman
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Jun 5, 2015 at 2:54 pm

I have a question for you all...
If life in the bay area and California in general becomes unpleasant and ultimately unsustainable, (because of drought/rising sea levels, etc) where would everyone move to? Is there any part of the western U.S that is not experience drought, rising sea levels, etc?
I'm thinking about leaving and starting over somewhere else before property values here plunge. To me, if you look at the maps, it looks like the flats on the peninsula will start to flood in just 20 years...Do you think governments, Google, Oracle, and Facebook will pony up the money to build levees? Is Silicon Valley too important to the world? I'd like to see more discussion of this topic.


2 people like this
Posted by Yawn
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2015 at 5:41 pm

For thirty years we have been told we will be underwater soon if we don't take drastic measures now. We never do and nothing changes. First it was global cooling, then it was global warming, and now it is climate change so no matter what happens it is a human caused catastrophe. The proponents on this are like religious zealots who want no part of debate, they would just rather label you as stupid, etc. Based on the record of their predictions coming to pass, which I believe is still a solid zero, I think we are fine. The County has real issues to deal with and should not waste time or money on this. I am not saying we should pollute or be anything but good stewards of or planet, but this sky is falling bit is really getting old.


18 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2015 at 5:59 pm

Yawn -- " The proponents on this are like religious zealots who want no part of debate, they would just rather label you as stupid, etc."

Actually, it's the global warming deniers like you that insist that those who trust actual science -- and let's get something straight, global cooling was NEVER taken seriously by the scientific community -- are deluded, crazy, nuts, insane, etc., etc., etc.

Get your facts straight. And learn something.


14 people like this
Posted by ItFitzMeNow
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2015 at 7:26 pm

"we have been told we will be underwater soon" Doh


At no time has anyone said we will be underwater soon. The sea level has consistently risen by 3mm per year since 1870. At 3mm per years, a decade gets a bit more than an inch a year. An inch a year isn't "we will be underwater soon." Stop exaggerating then arguing against your own exaggeration. Or at least go get a room because it isn't polite to exaggerate in public.


3 people like this
Posted by Steve Case
a resident of another community
on Jun 5, 2015 at 8:16 pm

Almanac's Dave Boyce reports, "If sea levels rise by the 55 inches predicted by 2100 ..."

Fifty-five inches by 2100 requires an average rise in sea level of over 16 mm/yr.

The Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level shows that from Crescent City to San Diego, California has 18 tide gauges, and 8 of them have records going back 60 years or more. Analysis of the past 60 years in two 30 year time series shows that from 1954 through 1983 those 8 gauges average 1.6 mm/yr of sea level rise, and from 1984 through 2013 those same gauges average 0.4 mm/yr. None of them show an increase.

Globally satellite data kept by Colorado University's Sea Level Research Group goes back 22 years, and from 1992 through 2003 the rate of sea level rise was 3.5 mm/yr and from 2004 through 2014 the rate has dropped to 2.9 mm/yr or a deceleration of minus -0.05 mm/yr².

Anyone with some curiosity and modest Excel ability can verify these numbers..

Steve Case - Milwaukee, WI


2 people like this
Posted by Global Hysteria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 5, 2015 at 8:51 pm

These liberal alarmists have drunk the proverbial Kool Aid. The global warming hysteria was given legs by liberal universities wanting to get research dollars by regurgitating the Al Gore global warming nonsense and as their reward Washington rained down millions of our hard earned tax dollars upon them. The headline on the NASA website is Antarctic Sea Ice Reaches New Record Maximum"

Web Link

And Arctic Sea ice is recovering from the 2004 lows. Instead of stopping the Trolls we should stop radical leftist hysteria. We did a pretty good job of it in the 2014 Menlo Park City Council race when all 3 of Gail Slocum's hand picked City Council candidates : Kelly Fergusson, Kristen Durisetti, and Drew Combs went down in flames (2002 redux)and did it again when they lamely tried to resurrect themselves with the Measure M hysteria.

The liberal playbook is to use fear to rally people to their specious causes.


24 people like this
Posted by S Colbert
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 10:23 am

GH - "These liberal alarmists have drunk the proverbial Kool Aid."

90% of the scientists tell us thew facts are indisputable, the earth is warming.

GH tells us therefore that 90% of scientists must be liberals.

I was right: reality has a well known liberal bias.

S Colbert
The Carolinas
Web Link


4 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 4:23 pm

Global Hysteria -- So it's from posting right-wing nonsense posts on this site, to posting right-wing nonsense on threads like this.

My, have the "mighty" fallen indeed.


10 people like this
Posted by John Englander
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 6:22 pm

Although I do not live in the area, as an expert about rising sea level I have done quite a few briefings and consulting projects in the Bay Area, including San Mateo County. I know that the county has been quite focused on the issue of long term rising sea level for a year and a half at least.
To clarify two of the comments ahead of me:

BELLE: While going vegan could reduce the warming if enough people participated, it can not stop sea level rise at this point. Theoretically it could slow it, if enough people did it, but it would require hundreds of millions. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and be more sustainable are a step in the right direction, but we need to begin adapting to slowly rising sea level regardless.

STEVE is correct about the small amounts of sea level rise (SLR) that have been measured over the last few decades, on the order of an inch a decade. The problem nonetheless is the inescapable projection about the increasing melt rates of glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica. They hold a potential 24 feet and 186 ft of potential SLR. We know that SL moves up and down hundreds of feet with the ice ages, a natural pattern. But now we have broken out of that pattern. SL will get much higher in the second half of this century, and even higher during the next. It is now unstoppable due to the increased heat already stored in the ocean. It is simple physics, the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Fortunately we have decades to adapt. We just need to stop arguing, ignoring, or wishful thinking.


Like this comment
Posted by Global Hysteria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 6, 2015 at 7:55 pm

John,

I appreciate your opinion but how do you explain that Antarctic ice is at an all time high?

Also, when you have leaders like Angela Merkel heavily contributing to the consumption of coal to generate electricity we are going backwards with regard to carbon dioxide emissions. Before we can transition to renewable sources of energy such as hydro, wind and solar, we need to bridge the gap with nuclear fission reactors. Fission energy is safer than fossil fuels if we use modern reactors which can now re-use 96% of the fission waste as fuel.

If we took all the money we are wasting on global warming research and redeployed that funding into nuclear fusion (of deuterium and tritium) research, which, when successful would produce clean energy without the toxic nuclear waste created by nuclear fission and without the carbon emissions created by using fossil fuels then the sea level rise would stabilize and slowly reverse itself.


14 people like this
Posted by S Colbert
a resident of another community
on Jun 6, 2015 at 8:28 pm

whoa.... the guy above who *thinks* he is making a cogent appeal for nukes (and he is not) is the same guy that wrote:

"The global warming hysteria was given legs by liberal universities wanting to get research dollars by regurgitating the Al Gore global warming nonsense"

then contradicts himself with

"without the carbon emissions created by using fossil fuels then the sea level rise would stabilize and slowly reverse itself"

Hey @globalhysteria, which is it?

A liberal plot, or scientific fact?


Like this comment
Posted by Global Hysteria
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Jun 7, 2015 at 8:44 am

Colbert, or should I say Paul,

The liberal mind just wants to see what it wants to see. There is quite a difference between global hysteria and a small manageable problem. Yet you see contradictions where there are none in your binary myopic world. Your crowd is apoplectic over a very small sea rise. If your kid fell of his bike and scraped his knee would you demand that he get a total knee replacement?

The Global Warming Hysteria crowd will cry "The Sky is falling" every time. The sea is rising at a decreasing rate. If you use the 2.9mm data it will take 344 years and 10 months for the sea to rise 1 meter. One meter is a lot. But 344 years is a lot of time.

Yet you and your ilk offer no reasonable solutions. All you do is complain and create hysteria over a minor problem. You want more solar and more wind energy. Yet wind accounts for 1.4% of our country's energy and solar accounts for a mere 0.19%. It is my sincere hope that these numbers will rise dramatically but currently the only short terms solution, if we want to ween ourselves off fossil fuel energy, is to use nuclear fission.

And rather that pour millions of dollars into global warming research we should be funding universities such as Princeton, MIT, and Cal Tech to find a way to sustain a nuclear fusion reaction.

If Sinclair Lewis was alive today he could have easily refreshed one if his great novels substituting Al Gore for Elmer Gantry as the protagonist and substituting the religion of global warming for Christianity.


1 person likes this
Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jun 7, 2015 at 10:00 am

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

"The liberal mind just wants to see what it wants to see."

If that isn't the pot calling the kettle black I don't know what is. Substitute "conservative' for "liberal" and both statements are true. The problem is those living on either end of the political spectrum both "want to see what they want to see." And they both believe what they want to believe, whether it's real or not.


16 people like this
Posted by S Colbert
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 10:12 am

Paul who, 4?

Fusion is a pipe dream from the 60's and 70's, with many tens of billions spent. Some estimates are that it needs another 100 billion over decades just to have a chance.

Your "millions" invested in tracking the planet's warming and looking for solutions are about a month's costs in fusion research. Maybe a week.

Your German coal comment also ignores the reality of renewables in Germany.

2014: wind, solar, hydro, etc.., produced 27% of Germany’s total electricity.

27%.

No one predicted it would grow so fast.

And it didn't take tens of billions in mythical fusion research.

27%

It's troglodytes that harp "you and your ilk offer no reasonable solutions" that are keeping America from achieving greatness.



10 people like this
Posted by Stop the Trolls
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 11:02 am

@S Colbert -- Honestly, I don't what is worse: the "Global Hysteria" chap going on about climate science, when it's clear that it has no clue about the subject; or the same "Global Hysteria" character posting warmed-over posts about the Democrats from discredited sources -- and insisting that those of us who call it out for posting that nonsense are somehow being duped by the evil librul press.

Sigh.


10 people like this
Posted by S Colbert
a resident of another community
on Jun 7, 2015 at 11:47 am

@stopthetrolls

It's that mentality that keeps late night comedy show hosts in business (noting that all top comedians are "librul".)

Dennis Miller lost his sense of humor when he turned right. Fox tried a fringe right version of daily show, and it failed miserably.

Because, we all know....

"reality has a well known liberal bias"

ya know, due to facts and stuff.

Oddly, the so called "librul" press are all owned by giant corporations. Odd, that. Who knew giant corporations were the tip of the "librul" spear?!?! Image if our troll listened to Democracy Now! or any other independent left media for an entire hour - think his head would explode before the end?

Web Link

www.democracynow.org

That said, I encourage everyone to tune into Micheal Weiner/Savage, Rush, Beck, etc.. as often as possible. It is SO educational. You instantly realize where our troglodyte gets his fantasies.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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