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California Study of Sea Level Rise Predicts Significant Economic Impacts

A study commissioned by the California Department of Boating and Waterways has concluded that there is the potential for significant economic impacts from rising sea levels on California’s coastal communities. The report was prepared by economists from San Francisco State University. The study notes that it took into account a variety of potential economic impacts:

“Since planning for sea-­‐level rise requires a comprehensive assessment of potential damages, we include sea-­‐level rise impacts to sandy beach recreation value, habitat value, and beach tourism-­‐related spending. These damages are more indirect than losses to upland structures and land, yet are also vital to understanding the true economic impact of sea-­‐level rise.”

In a press release announcing the study it was noted:

“The findings suggest that the cost and type of damage will vary depending on a community’s economy, geography and local decisions about land use. For example, if sea level rises by 4.6 feet, Malibu beaches could lose almost $500 million in accumulated tourism revenue between now and 2100. Revenue losses would be much smaller at San Francisco’s windswept Ocean Beach ($82 million), which attracts fewer visitors per year.”

One of the co-authors noted that there are varying degrees of response which may be appropriate and while in the past seawalls were the solution of choice “our findings suggest that other policies such as beach nourishment or where possible, allowing the coastline to retreat, could be more cost effective.”

-Steven Silverberg