This weekend, the alignment of the sun and moon are creating higher-than normal-king tides along the U.S. coastline. Activists and organizations in Orange County, California, are hosting events at several locations (listed in this article) to not only show the public what a king tide does to their shoreline but to make them aware that sea level rise is going to make what’s now considered a higher-than-normal tide the norm in the coming decades.
Sea level rise flooding is already threatening beaches, bluffs, railroad tracks, roadways, and real estate in California. The state’s Legislative Analyst’s Office estimates in a December report that statewide up to $10 billion worth will be inundated by 2050.
The California Coastal Commission is considering a few options to hold back or divert the rising seas, including building seawalls (which can actually cause more rapid beach erosion), enhancing natural buffers, such as dunes and wetlands, and moving or demolishing structures on beaches so the ocean and beaches can follow their natural flow without flooding real estate and infrastructure. All of the solutions under consideration have costs and benefits. In some cases, residents are fighting the changes, claiming that their private property rights overrule the public interest.
The U.S. Geologic Survey predicts that sea level rise could devour up 67 percent of California’s beaches by 2100. The loss threatens to damage the state’s tourist economy and put even more bluff-top homes at risk of toppling into the sea.
Sean Bothwell, executive director of the California Coastkeeper Alliance told the Orange County Register, “Sea level projections have increased at an alarming rate — due to increased ocean temperature and faster rates of Antarctic sea melt — leaving California’s communities, roads and other infrastructure vulnerable to severe flooding and other risks without immediate action.”
Hopefully, public education projects, like the special king tide events being held in Orange County, will convince people that now’s the time to act.