Remember the Disney film "Little Mermaid?" My kids loved it. But do you know that the original Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale on which it's based does not have the happy ending that the movie does? Instead of living happily ever after, the mermaid turns into sea foam and disappears.
I was reminded of this when reading Margot Roosevelt's piece today in the Los Angeles Times about the grim prospects for sea level rise in California. She describes a report from the California Climate Action Team and writes that: "Hundreds of thousands of people and billions of dollars of Golden State infrastructure and property would be at risk if ocean levels rose 55 inches by the end of the century, as computer models suggest, according to the report."
What is particularly scary for my work with the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach is this: "Detailed maps of the coastline, published on the institute's website, show that . . .. [w]ater could cover airports in San Francisco and Oakland, parts of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and large swaths of Huntington Beach and Newport Beach." Here's the issue: the local ports propose to spend billions of dollars on expansion projects to handle expected increases in cargo from Asia (notwithstanding recent decline in cargo from Asia). Those projects will be worthless if they are underwater, unless the Chinese start shipping goods here in submarines.
NRDC has asked the local ports to consider the effects of global warming on these new projects, but little or nothing has been done by the Ports about the problem of sea level rise. Perhaps Margot's article and the Climate Action Team report will jar the ports out of their fairy tale world of happy endings and into 21st century reality in California. Otherwise, billions of dollars in construction projects could experience an unhappy ending akin to the Hans Christian Anderson version.