350.Org’s High Water Line in Mission Beach

by on January 20, 2015 · 0 comments

in California, Environment, History, Media, Ocean Beach, Organizing, San Diego

Mission Beach 350 HiWater 03Excerpt from Doug Porter’s column at San Diego Free Press:

Volunteers with the local chapter of 350.org fanned out in Mission Beach yesterday, using chalk to mark off where predictions of sea level rise fueled by climate change will cause flooding in the coming decades.

They sought public input by getting petition signatures for a strong, enforceable City of San Diego Climate Action Plan.

From KPBS:

After New York’s HighWaterLine art project, San Diego’s Mission Beach was one of several communities across the country holding similar events. San Francisco, New York and Miami also used art to address climate change.

Researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography predict a combination of high tides and big storms will cause massive flooding within the next 35 years. That’s why volunteers withSanDiego350 were using chalk along the Mission Boulevard sidewalk to illustrate those threats.

Walking, running, or biking in Mission Beach could one day be threatened by king tides, which cause strong rip currents and lead to flooding in low-lying areas along the beaches.

10News attempted to fact check the group’s estimates and discovered their predictions were indeed possible. I got the distinct impression were looking for a different answer. They also found some hipster dude who complained about the chalk messing up the sidewalk in front of his business. …Talk about your misplaced priorities…

Mission Beach 350 HiWater 02Here’s 350.org press release:

San Diego, CA – On January 19th in Mission Beach, using an athletic field chalker and moving north along the Mission Boulevard sidewalk, members of the group SanDiego350 drew a chalk line representing the high tide flood line projected to occur within the next 35 years by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), UCSD and SDSU.   They also stenciled “High Tide Flood Line – 2050” all along the route, and others wrote “Climate Emergency” and the tags “#ChalkSD” and “#HighWaterLine” in colored sidewalk chalk. Interacting with curious passers-by, volunteers handed out flood maps indicating the areas of Mission Beach that will be flooded with progressive increases in sea level rise, as well as fact sheets about local effects of sea level rise.  They also collected signatures on a petition for a strong, enforceable City of San Diego Climate Action Plan, with those signatures to go to the San Diego City Council.

This chalk-art project was designed to raise awareness among residents and business owners in the local community about the very real impacts sea level rise will have on Mission Beach and what they can do to mitigate climate change. Jeffrey Meyer, a SanDiego350 volunteer, put it this way, “We have a 15 billion dollar per year tourism industry that could get sucked out to sea.  Flooding will cause an economic riptide.  All the politicians should be standing on this chalk line and answering what they’re going to do to mitigate climate change and flooding.”  The project coordinator, Jeanne Peterson, said she organized this event for personal reasons, stating, “I have two kids, aged 11 and 13.  If I didn’t do everything I could to stop this climate catastrophe, I couldn’t live with myself.  It’s not fair to leave them this mess.”

Mission Beach 350 HiWater 01Sea level rise causes property damage, beach loss, shrinkage of coastal wetlands and threats to infrastructure. But aside from raising awareness of the impacts of sea level rise, the volunteers also provided information on concrete steps individuals can take in their daily lives to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change and sea level rise.  “We don’t want people to be discouraged, thinking there’s nothing they can do about this.  Aside from supporting green energy initiatives and driving less, eating less meat and dairy can also have a profound impact, because the livestock industry contributes one-fifth of greenhouse gases worldwide.  If people minimize water use, that helps too as transporting, purifying and heating water all require energy,” said participant Ashley Mazanec.

By 2050, roughly half of Mission Beach will likely be flooded at high tide. Much of the rest would flood about once every five years, when higher sea levels, high tides and waves from big storms combine.  And Mission Beach is not the only San Diego community at risk.  Other at-risk areas identified by Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists include South Bay, Coronado and La Jolla Shores, which are also low-lying regions.

The 35 year time-frame for the predicted twelve to eighteen inches of sea level rise in San Diego is about the length of a typical mortgage and within the lifetimes of most people under 50 years of age.  On a longer time scale, the National Climate Assessment has predicted a sea level rise of two to six feet by 2100.  The sea is rising now because water expands as it warms, like the mercury in a thermometer. It is also rising because higher temperatures are melting glaciers and sea ice worldwide.

This high water line art project is one of multiple similar events that have taken place from New York City, to Miami, to Bristol, England since 2007.


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