Sea Level Rise San Francisco

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SEA LEVEL RISE: San Francisco Bay Area

MUD 692 l Kevin Kellogg l FALL 2012 l Utkarsh Kumar
The Theory:
Coastal cities need preservation and restoration, not development to tackle the issues of Sea Level Rise.

“We basically have three choices: mitigation, adaptation, and suffering,” said John Holdren, the president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an energy and climate expert at Harvard. “We’re going to do some of each. The question is what the mix is going to be. The more mitigation we do, the less adaptation will be required and the less suffering there will be.” John Holdren,

The president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an energy and climate expert at Harvard University New York Times, January 30, 2007
The coastal cities around the world are some of the most developed and rich economic resources. They have been a home to wealth and economic prosperity. Besides economic stability, coastal cities are also home to a wealth of rich resources and diverse species, habitat types and nutrients (WRI, 2000). Employment, recreation and tourism, waterborne commerce, and energy and mineral production are driving forces of population migration to these areas. In US, since 1980, costal population growth has reflected the same growth as the entire nation. The narrow coastal fringe that makes up 17 percent of the nation's contiguous land area is home to more than half of its population. In 2003, approximately 153 million people (53 percent of the nation’s population) lived in the 673 U.S. coastal counties, an increase of 33 million people since 1980. This trend also goes on to show the increase in developer driven projects in the coastal cities with high demand for housing on the waterfront. This makes the waterfronts in many cities a prime property for development and attracts a large number of people by selling the idea of living close to, next or on the water. What this trend has done is that the coastal ecosystems is pressured by population growth, leaving them vulnerable to pollution, habitat degradation and loss, overfishing, invasive species, and increased coastal hazards such as sea-level rise. Many great coastal cities used to have rich and diverse natural systems, which used to protect the cities from storms, floods and other effects of changing water levels. Unfortunately, that richness and diversity of the natural systems got lost somewhere along the way when the cities started expanding, a) due to population influx and b) to seek better development opportunities on the waterfront. Many cities have seen these changes overtime, on the waterfront and in the cities themselves. For example, New York used to have a rich and abundant supply of oysters from the oyster reefs that were along the waterfront of the city, protecting it from storms and floods. These reefs were disappeared with time and so did the oysters. The most evident example of this change was a shift from oyster stands, which were popular through the city, to the now popular hot dog stands. Although this seems like a very small change for such a city, its severe impacts can be seen with the change in the waterfront and vulnerability to storms. Figure [ 1 ] Oyster Stand

Figure [ 1 ] Oyster Stand
Figure [ 2 ] Hot Dog Stand
Figure [ 2 ] Hot Dog Stand

Among all impacts of environmental hazards, Sea Level Rise has become the most dangerous and increasingly worrying concern all around the world. So, what does that mean for the coastal cities and why should we be considering its impacts? How badly are the cities going to get affected by changes in sea levels? Why is it important to think about environmental solutions along with engineered solutions to minimize the impacts of sea level rise? To understand the effects of Sea Level Rise, California and San Francisco Bay Area in particular are good examples to look at. The Reason:

Sea level rise has been the primary and...
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