Saturday, August 4, 2007

lightblueline: Protecting Property Values in Santa Barbara

lightblueline joins with homeowners and commercial property owners and civic leaders (the city owns a lot of property too) in proclaiming that we need to do everything we can as a city to sustain the investments we have made in the waterfront district from the threat of sea-level rise. We can help sustain this property and our beautiful coastal landscape by working together to stop human-induced climate change.

Here in Santa Barbara we've gotten used to (and sometimes a might too complacent about) our local environmental risks: wildfire, earthquake, landslide, and flood. In the last century we've seen them all. Each of these has its own geography, the hillsides burn, Mission Creek floods, La Conchita gets buried, and so landowners are generally well aware that their favorite location on the ridge or near the ocean is also a spot where something bad, at some point might just happen. Planners work with 100 year and 500 year event scenarios, and the rest of us hope that 100 year earthquake is still 50 years off (even when the last one happened 80 years ago).

Now we face a new environmental risk, an increase in vulnerability to sea-level rise due to human induced climate change. The science tells us this vulnerability will occur if we do not reduce our global greenhouse gas output. Some of this sea-level rise happens because the oceans are expanding as they warm. Some comes from the decrease in snowpack and glacier cover. But the real concern is from the polar ice sheets, where most of water that might feed the oceans is stored as ice. If we melt just 10% of this ice the oceans will rise seven meters. And if we keep on producing greenhouse gases in the same rate we do now, we will lock in at least this amount of melting through our actions in the next 10 years. IMPORTANT NOTE: the actual melting takes additional decades to centuries. Climate change does not happen overnight.

Unlike earthquakes or floods sea-level rise due to climate change is something we can prevent, but only if we act now. We have maybe 10 years left to keep the ocean down at the waterfront. The City Council has provided bold leadership to reduce carbon output within city government. Groups like the Community Environmental Council are working on local solutions: check our their Fossil Free by 33 website.

The message is clear: we can support the City's leading efforts at reducing greenhouse gases or we can sit back and let our grandchildren's grandchildren watch the oceans rise, forsaking our responsibility to property owners along the coastline.

If you are serious about property values in Santa Barbara, well, then that's another fine reason to support the City's lightblueline effort.

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