The wildfires in Northern California provide an in-your-face reminder of the trials and tribulations brought on by earth’s changing climate. But on the North Coast, rising sea levels could create a much more difficult situation than wildfire.
The Center for Climate Integrity released a study stating that climate change will be felt significantly in Humboldt County over the next 20 years. By the study’s estimate, 142 miles of seawall will have to be built along the Humboldt coast by 2040, costing approximately $2.5 billion. The price tag would cost more than $18,000 per county resident.
The study documents how Humboldt County officials and residents will be tasked with the difficult choice to build massive infrastructure to battle the rising sea, or simply abandon the coastal properties.
“For hundreds of small coastal and tidal communities identified in the report, the costs will far outstrip their ability to pay, making retreat and abandonment the only viable option unless enormous amounts of financing emerge in a very short period of time,” said the Center for Climate Integrity in a press release.
Humboldt wasn’t the only area in America that will see devastating financial hurdles from rising sea levels. The study forecasts that Florida will be hit hardest by climate change, with the state needing to fork over nearly $76 billion to build sufficient seawall.
The Center for Climate Integrity suggests that a tax on the oil and gas companies should be enacted to pay for the upcoming financial hardships for local governments.
“The companies that made and promoted the products that they knew would irrevocably and radically alter the global climate, and then denied it, must pay their fair share to help communities adapt to it,” said Richard Wiles, executive director of the Center for Climate Integrity, in a press release. “Failing to hold polluters to this basic responsibility would be to knowingly bankrupt hundreds of communities, standing idly by as they are slowly and inexorably swallowed up by the sea.”