If we lose our beaches, we lose everything that goes along with them: wiggling our toes in the warm sand, riding waves at our favorite breaks, the diverse ecosystems hosting countless ocean and coastal creatures, the key driver of our state’s economy – indeed, California’s very identity. That’s why Surfrider Foundation prioritizes coastal preservation as core to our mission.
In California, most of this work takes place each month at the California Coastal Commission meetings where our efforts are focused on establishing appropriate setbacks for development, opposing shoreline structures, and advocating for long-term adaptation solutions to our rising seas. Our constant attention to, and presence at, Coastal Commission hearings has made Surfrider staff go-to sources regarding what sea level rise means for California.
Emerging research continues to add to the urgency and importance of sea level rise planning: If we don’t act now, the costs of sea level rise and climate change adaptation will increase exponentially. A majority of California’s beaches are at risk of disappearing from sea level rise and this will come at a great cost.
- The U.S. Geological Survey recently found that 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may completely vanish by 2100 due to sea level rise and cliffs could recede more than 130 feet by the year 2100.
- Several recent studies have shown that impacts from flooding – from water in the basement to inundated streets impact property values. For example, flooding has already hamstrung property prices and cost Hampton Roads homeowners hundreds of millions of dollars in lost or unrealized values.
- The costs of sea level rise and climate change adaptation will increase exponentially over time. The National Institute of Building Sciences found that mitigation funding can save the nation $6 in future disaster costs, for every $1 spent on hazard mitigation.
- A recent study published in the Nature journal found that the combination of sea level rise and storms in California has the potential to displace more than half a million people and cost $150 billion by the end of the century – 6% of the state’s GDP.
The biggest threat to saving our beaches is coastal armoring (i.e., seawalls, revetments, rip rap). California currently has 142 miles of coastal armoring: over 30 percent of the Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego County coastlines are already armored. Without strong guidance and without strong local planning policies, these numbers will increase exponentially and our coast will disappear – rendering useless all other attempts to maintain or improve coastal access for all Californians.
Coastal landowners and planners will inevitably attempt to act to protect their assets from these losses, but protection should not come at the expense of public resources. We must ensure that the incredible value of our beaches, recreational opportunities and vital coastal habitats persist for generations to come.
Sea level rise in the news:
- Bolinas wall stalled by coastal commission – Point Reyes Light
- San Clemente Finalizes Sea Level Rise Report in hopes of establishing a Coastal Program – Voice of OC
- New NASA Mission Plans To Map Sea Level Rise From Space Through 2030 – Cap Radio
- California considers climate bond to prepare for disasters – Press-Democrat
- King tides threaten roads and cover beaches in preview of sea level rise – OC Register
- Why Calif. will let rising seas ‘knock out’ this building – EE News
- California officials need to move faster on sea level rise, legislative study finds – LA Times
- Lawmakers: Prep for California Sea Level Rise or Suffer Later – Gov Tech
- Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise Holds First Meeting in Five Years – California Globe
- Editorial: California’s rising sea level demands aggressive response from state – San Diego Tribune
- Sea Level Rise Legislative Report – LA Times
- Without urgent action, California’s sea-level rise a threat to housing, economy, report says– CalMatters
- California conference sounds alarm about sea level rise, storms – Freight Waves
- This 7000-year-old wall was the earliest known defense against rising seas. It failed – Science Magazine
- California is feuding with this SoCal city over ‘planned retreat’ from sea level rise – Los Angeles Times, Oct. 26, 2019
- How 1 small seaside town is grappling with its beach being swept away by erosion – Orange County Register, Oct. 24, 2019
- Sea-level rise threatens Orange County’s coast from top to bottom – Orange County Register, Sept. 13, 2019
- Rising Sea Levels Leave Coastal Cities With Hard Choices – Capital & Main, Aug. 12, 2019
- With More Storms and Rising Seas, Which U.S. Cities Should Be Saved First? – New York Times, June 19, 2019
- Destruction from sea level rise in California could exceed worst wildfires and earthquakes – L.A. Times, March 13, 2019