For Immediate Release, June 22, 2012
Contact: Shaye Wolf, (415) 632-5301
Study: Rising Seas Will Inflict Serious Damage Along U.S. West Coast
Stronger Action Needed to Protect United States From Climate Change
SAN FRANCISCO— In a report released today, the U.S. National Research Council concluded that average global sea level is likely to rise two to three times higher within this century than previously estimated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2007. Along the U.S. West Coast, California will be particularly hard-hit. Most of the California coast will experience more than three feet of sea-level rise, which will inflict serious damage; a large earthquake could cause sea level to rise suddenly by another three feet or more.
“The harms of climate change are all around us, but our leaders have failed to act to reduce this threat,” said Shaye Wolf, climate science director at the Center for Biological Diversity, which has advocated for years to secure powerful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. “Today’s warning, coming from our country’s leading scientific advisors, sends an urgent message to our president and other policymakers: We need strong action, right now, to avert climate catastrophe.”
The research council estimated that global sea levels will rise 20 to 55 inches (50 to 140 centimeters) by 2100. Along the West Coast, sea-level rise will be greatest off the California coast and somewhat less (two feet) off Washington and Oregon. Rising seas, coupled with increased frequency of extreme weather events due to climate change, will increase flooding damage, coastal erosion and wetland loss.
Deep and rapid greenhouse gas cuts are needed in order to avoid the most extreme and damaging sea-level rise and other climate change impacts; the technology and legal tools to implement deep reductions are available today, with only political will absent. In the United States, the Clean Air Act is our leading tool for curbing greenhouse gas pollution. For four decades, the Act’s successful programs have reduced dangerous pollution, saving many thousands of lives. The Act has achieved major public-health gains while saving us money and benefiting our economy.
The law is now under attack from polluters and their allies in Congress, and to date the EPA’s implementation of the Act for greenhouse pollution has been too slow and tentative to address the urgency of the challenges we face.
More than two dozen cities across the U.S. have joined the Center’s Clean Air Cities campaign urging President Barack Obama and the EPA to use the Clean Air Act to address the global climate crisis and reduce carbon in our atmosphere to no more than 350 parts per million, the level needed to reach to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 375,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.