Saturday, April 14, 2007

Santa Cruz looks ahead

Santa Cruz, California, located on the Pacific coast between San Francisco and Monterey, is known for its local political activism. It's probably one of the most progressive localities anywhere, so it should come as no surprise that it's ahead of the curve in preparing for a rising sea level.

In this article in the Santa Cruz Sentinel, we learn some helpful stuff for climate frogs. For instance, someone has been surveying cities and their governments to find evidence of climate impact preparation.

"People are worried, there's a readiness to take action, but hardly anything is being done," said Susanne Moser, a research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., who surveyed 300 planners, public works engineers and other officials from city and county governments.
Santa Cruz is rare, but is not alone as a California city planning mitigation projects. The article points to Sonoma, Berkeley and San Luis Obispo as other cities with global warming plans. But planning is only in its earliest stages, with little practical traction yet.

Those surveyed said it's tough to act due to lack of money and other obligations.

"It's not that they need better information," Moser said, "it's that few have time to think about it. There's too much else on their plate"

And we learn about other bureaucratic obstacles to planning and implementation.

Complicating the problem is that responsibility for coastal management — protecting homes, providing water, preserving natural habitat — is spread over multiple state agencies, state commissions and local governments.

Moser's survey has prompted the writing of new legislation in California to create mandated planning across the state.

Legislation proposed by Assemblyman John Laird, D-Santa Cruz, would force cities to better prepare for impacts associated with climate change, such as sea-level rise, by revising local plans and seeking state funding for communities to understand, mitigate and adapt to climate change.

"We're learning quickly how important it is to expand the climate-change discussion to include preparing for future impacts, while also working today to reduce consumption that results in global warming," Laird said in a statement.

It's interesting to note that Santa Cruz is planning for what some consider to be worst-case scenarios - the melting of icecaps on both Greenland and Antarctica.

Most of Santa Cruz will be submerged if Antarctica and Greenland's ice sheets calve or melt entirely, a scenario that climate scientists say will play out in anywhere from 100 to 1,000 years if current trends continue.

Mission Street would be the shoreline if glacial melt follows even the more
conservative projections of some researchers, causing sea levels to rise 70 feet.

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