By Sharon Gibbons
As world leaders complete the Paris Climate Change Conference, we in the Bay Area are concerned about the future of the Bay and how climate change will impact our local environment. Climate change predictions for Northern California include rising temperatures, less snowpack, and rising sea levels on the coast and in the Bay.
So what can we do and learn more about climate change and its effects locally? Both during this month and January, there will be King Tides occurring, which are the highest high tides. The California King Tides Project is sponsoring walks and activities and inviting everyone to participate and take photos to document the high tides, comparing water levels with sea level rise.
If you’d like to learn more about strategies and goals to help the Bay cope with climate change, there is an excellent report just published, The Baylands and Climate Change: What We Can Do. It is written by a consortium of scientists and local governmental agencies and it describes many thoughtful strategies to help the Bay become healthy and resilient. It stresses that agencies will need increased flexibility and agility to cope with the changing Bay environment and that by pushing to complete its previously recommended goal of transforming 100 million acres of tidal marsh in the next 15-20 years, essential natural processes of the Bay will have an important window of time to become more established before facing increased problems including sea level rise and flooding events. The report also emphasizes how vital it is that we all participate through volunteerism and advocacy to help achieve our goals for a healthy Bay.
This report underscores what a complex and special resource the Bay is and that it requires more flexible permitting that encourages experimentation to meet the changing environment with projects such as the Horizontal Levees, living seawalls and oyster reefs. To help meet funding needs, the San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority is working with regional organizations to put an annual twelve-dollar parcel tax initiative on the June ballot for all of the nine counties surrounding the Bay to raise money for wetlands restoration and flood control.
The Watershed Project, by seeking to improve our local watershed, has worked hard to green some of our roughest urban environments by installing rain gardens and bioswales. These projects have captured pollutants and protected the Bay, while returning a beautiful natural environment to the city streets. The Oyster Reef Project is an experimental project of restoring the natural marine habitat and providing filtering of pollution in the Bay. These projects are natural solutions and ongoing educational models to help solve climate change. Our volunteers make a real difference as we work locally in the community to solve the larger problems facing the Bay.