Santa Barbara’s “Sea-Level Rise Adaptation Plan” makes a mockery of the seriousness and urgency of the climate crisis. In the face of dire warnings from climate scientists that unless we transition away from burning coal, oil, and gas fast — as in a few years — tipping points and feed-back loops will lock in irreversible climate impacts. This is as true for sea rise as it is for droughts, such as what we’re experiencing now, or the devastating wildfires we’re expecting this summer.
It’s ridiculous to present a 30-year plan that focuses only on adapting to increased flooding along the waterfront during a time when seas are anticipated to rise as much as two feet. Surely our leaders understand that actions to “adapt” to sea level rise — such as adding sand to beaches, building sea walls, or re-locating coastal homes and infrastructure — will not stop the sea from rising. The only way to protect coastal communities like ours is to support congressional action to drastically reduce emissions, phase out fossil fuels, and make the transition to clean energy.
Adaptation is not a solution.
I was so excited last August when our city expressed its support for HR-2307, the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This legislation would jump-start the transition to clean energy by charging coal, oil, and gas companies a fee on their carbon pollution, distributing the revenue to American households, and establishing a carbon tariff at the border to incentivize all nations, including China, to adopt similar policies. If enacted, we could achieve the goal of reducing emissions in half by 2030.
To have any chance of saving our beaches and protecting our coastal communities, we need our leaders to do all they can to get Congress to include these policies in climate legislation.