Like It Or Not, The Water Is Coming: Will The Bay Area Defend Against Rising Seas, Or Embrace Them?

KQED: You can shove water back from the land, or let the land flood, but either way, San Francisco Bay is getting higher. Along more than 400 miles of bayfront, in at least forty communities that touch water, the once-sneaky problem of sea level rise is revealing itself as it accelerates. At airports, at power plants, in subsiding urban areas and in shoreline development, rising seas are challenging our choices about living next to water.

A History of Defending

Since the days when our best gauge was a numbered stick and a sharp-eyed observer, San Francisco Bay has been rising. At the Presidio station tidal gauge, the level of the bay has risen 8 inches since 1900. Now the state of California is warning nine Bay Area counties that climate change means the bay is rising faster. Extreme tides, whipped by storms, have become both more frequent and more extreme. California’s latest and best word on sea levels, a report issued last spring predicts that San Francisco Bay could rise from five to 15 times faster this century than the last one. 

As water claims more space in our bay, we can choose to embrace it, or separate ourselves from it. We can learn to love a wetter landscape, or battle flooding and the risk we perceive from it. And over the past century, we’ve mostly chosen the latter course: to defend. Continue reading here>>