Testimony of Dr. Peter H. Gleick Before the California Assembly Select Committee on Sea Level Rise and the California Economy

Testimony of Dr. Peter H. Gleick
Before the California Assembly Select Committee on
Sea Level Rise and the California Economy
May 15, 2013

Chair and members of the Assembly Select Committee: thank you for inviting me to offer testimony today on the economic risks facing the State of California from accelerating sea-level rise. The reality of climate change will affect California in many ways, from rising temperatures to changes in fire frequency, drought and flood risks, threats to agricultural production and our water resources, and especially, growing damage and destruction along our extensive coastline from rising sea levels.

Over the past century, sea level has risen nearly eight inches along the California coast, and climate science research suggests very substantial additional increases in sea level over the coming century. The Pacific Institute, with support from the State of California, completed a detailed analysis of the current population, infrastructure, and property at risk from projected sea‐level rise if no actions are taken to protect the coast. Our study uses projections developed by the State of California from current best estimates, but does not reflect the worst‐case sea‐level rise that could occur. Indeed, new science suggests these estimates may be conservative.

The report also evaluates the cost of building structural measures to protect high-valued locations, but if development continues in threatened areas, all of these estimates will rise substantially. And we conclude that no matter what policies are implemented in the future, sea‐level rise will inevitably change the character of the California coast and… continue reading.

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