Open Forum: San Francisco should look to nature to respond to sea-level rise
With crumbling sea walls, rising seas and effective federal action still up in the air, it’s no wonder that climate change is a growing topic of concern for San Franciscans.
Sea-level rise is expected to submerge 6% of the city by the end of the century, threatening property damage in the millions of dollars in some of the most vital residential areas of the city.
These significant climate threats to highly populated urban areas of San Francisco require immediate action. Ecosystem-based adaptation needs to be prioritized as the cheapest, most effective and most resilient strategy to protect the city from the quickly worsening impacts of climate change.
Ecosystem-based adaptation is the technique of using natural processes to buffer specific areas against the negative impacts of a changing climate. This kind of adaptation has been used fairly extensively in nonurban areas, such as mangrove planting efforts in Southeast Asia and wetland restoration right here in the San Francisco Bay, but it has not yet garnered significant support for urban implementation.
So-called “hard-adaptation” efforts, such as sea walls and levees, are already in use in some of our country’s most vulnerable areas, including in San Francisco.
These methods, however, have drawbacks: They are costly, inflexible, and a short-term solution to a long-term problem.
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