How many surf spots out there truly hit their best when swamped by a high tide? Not many. Pretty soon we’re going to be paddling down our main streets just to get our morning coffee as the oceans revolt to global warming and climate change. Sure a couple new waves will pop up, but we’ll be surfing overtop of boardwalk restaurants.

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While the enormity of climate change is hard to grasp, its effects are already visible. In the fall of 2017, the U.S. was hit by historic disasters on all major coastal fronts. Unprecedented rainfall and flooding cut Hanalei off from the rest of Kauai, fires and mudslides buried houses and shut down the 101 Freeway in Santa Barbara, and two Category 5 hurricanes hit Puerto Rico in two weeks, devastating an island of three million people. Climate experts forecast these types of phenomena to happen more frequently, and more intensely, due to a cascade of effects as CO2 levels build.

Sea level rise, in terms of single digit feet, may not sound earth shattering, but one foot of vertical sea rise can mean 100 feet of inland creep, depending on topography. As Jeff Goodell put it in his 2017 book, The Water Will Come, “The difference between three feet and six feet is the difference between a manageable coastal crisis and a decades long refugee disaster. For many Pacific Island nations, it is the difference between survival and extinction.” Kiribati, an island chain in Micronesia, has already purchased 12 square miles in Fiji, optioning the ability to relocate its entire population.

What’s coming in California is the disappearance of beaches, the crumbling of the Pacific Coast Highway, and the flooding of coastal towns. Sea levels won’t rise at the same rate everywhere. For every foot of average global sea level rise, California, for example, will get 1.25 feet, says the California Ocean Protection Council. A study by the U.S. Geological Survey revealed coastal bluffs in Southern California could lose 62 to 135 feet, on average, by 2100, exposing 250,000 residents and $50 billion in property to erosion or flooding.

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Click to THE SURFERS JOURNAL for The Endless High Tide

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