A New Idea To Save San Francisco Bay From Sea Level Rise
Despite carbon-emission cutting efforts that are being made around the globe, “climate scientists say some level of anthropogenic warming and sea level rise is now irreversible, and likely to go on for thousands of years.” Many coastal cities have begun to contemplate various innovative engineering feats to deal with such “irreversible” impacts, one of which being the Golden Gate Barrage in San Francisco.
“A ‘Barrage’ is the technical term for a barrier across a waterway. The Golden Gate Barrage, a massive system of dams, locks, and pumps, would be one of the largest and costliest works in the history of civil engineering.”
According to a 2009 study by the Pacific Institute, an environmental think tank in Oakland, CA, “a sea level rise of 1.4 meters would cause $100 billion in property damage along the California coast (in 2000 dollars), with the vast majority of this damage--$62 billion—occurring along the San Francisco Bay coastline,” not including the damage done to public infrastructure. Current earthen levee barriers aren’t high enough to even prevent present-day storm surges, let alone those caused by the predicted 18-inch sea level rise by 2050.
While cities continue to evaluate the cost and environmental impacts of these new engineering systems, it will become increasingly important for local, state, and federal authorities to develop ideas that will "spread the costs evenly, promote equitable development, and preserve the [area’s] natural beauty."