Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ports will also be affected by Sea Level Rise

By Samantha Young, The Associated Press

SACRAMENTO - From agricultural losses to devastation wrought by wildfires to flooding at ports, California's economy is expected to see significant costs resulting from global warming in the decades ahead, according to a report presented Wednesday.

Global warming could translate into annual costs and revenue losses throughout the economy of between $2.5 billion and $15 billion by 2050, according to a summary presented to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's climate advisers.

One assessment of future flood risk with a sea level rise projected by the year 2100 shows significant flooding is possible at California's major ports in Oakland, Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Pacific Institute report, "The Impacts of Sea-Level Rise on the California Coast," said: "These ports are central to the economy of California, the nation, and the world. The Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, for example, handles 45 percent to 50 percent of the containers shipped into the United States. Of these containers, 77 percent leave the state; half by train and half by truck."

Property damage caused by sea level rise and more devastating wildfires could push the costs far higher than predicted.

The projected financial toll comes from a compilation of 40 studies commissioned by the governor's Climate Action Team. The final reports, which will be released at the end of March, are intended to provide a comprehensive snapshot of global warming's potential costs to property

owners, businesses and state government.

"The numbers indicate that we have a lot at stake," said Michael Hanemann, a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

"Californians need to pay serious attention to control our greenhouse gas emissions, and they need to start thinking about adaptation."

The studies were written by scientists from various disciplines based at state universities and research institutions.

If nothing is done globally to reduce emissions, hotter temperatures will lead to rising sea levels that will flood property in the San Francisco Bay area, lead to lower crop yields and water shortages, produce more intense wildfires and cause more demand for electricity.