Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Warming Wednesdays: the beach is washing away

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Ocean Beach -- where the Pacific Ocean borders San Francisco -- is unstable. The San Francisco Chronicle explains:

Erosion at Ocean Beach has vexed city planners for decades, but the scale of destruction wrought by last winter's storm surges and high tides was extraordinary - and many believe a foreshadowing of disasters to come.

Thirty-foot-high walls of water pounded the shoreline between Sloat Avenue and Fort Funston, eating away 900 linear feet of beach, guardrails and part of the southbound lanes of the Great Highway.

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It's a scene that could become all too familiar in San Francisco and other cities in coming years as melting ice caps raise sea levels and recontour shorelines around the world, planning experts say.

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The damage in these pictures happened last winter. City planners and civic organizations are striving to envision and prepare to adapt to the rising seas and stronger storms. This sort of thinking is the challenge we all will face over the next decades as temperatures rise and climate systems reconfigure themselves in response.

Despite every other legitimate concern, we cannot ignore that our economic and social system is rapidly making the planet less habitable. So I will be posting "Warming Wednesdays" -- unpleasant reminders of an inconvenient truth.

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