Marin’s well-respected civil grand jury has just issued its report regarding one of Marin’s most pressing quandaries. It’s titled, “Sea Level Rise: The Water is Upon Us. We Cannot Run, We Cannot Hide.”

Their report addresses the fact that “the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projects a 12-inch increase in sea level for the San Francisco Bay Area between now and 2050.”

Readers can precisely see how their home, business or school is impacted by sea level rise. Go to the Marin County Climate and Health “vulnerability dashboard” online at

The scientific concept of human-caused climate changes is rejected by America’s political “far right.” Even in those precincts, while its causes remain in dispute, it’s finally become evident to even that coterie that the climate is changing.

The Marin County Civil Grand Jury points out, “Mitigation (such as greenhouse gas reduction) alone is insufficient to tackle ongoing rising sea levels. … Even if carbon dioxide emissions completely stop now, the carbon will remain in the Earth’s atmosphere for centuries, continuing to warm the planet.”

In the short term of 2025-2050, “adaptation” is the remedy. Its strategies include, “building sea walls, protecting above and underground critical infrastructure, and restoring marshlands to reduce the physical impacts of rising waters.”

It won’t be cheap. The Bay Conservation and Development Commission estimates in today’s dollars the cost of adaptation infrastructure is at least $17 billion. It’s a multiyear project that’ll require impacted cities and county governments to annually sequester funds, seek federal and state contributions and ultimately pass a bond measure.

Some say, “just don’t do anything since I’ll be dead” before waters pour over Marin’s 70 miles of coastline and 40 miles of bay and tidal creek shoreline.

Pacific Ocean and San Francisco Bay water levels are already rising. We’re experiencing increased flooding in real time. While it’s true that many of us seniors will have “gone to our reward” by 2050, that leaves our children and grandchildren paying the price of us doing nothing today.

The upshot is that the “do nothing” strategy is the most expensive option. BCDC estimates that the cost of inaction is $34 billion in damage to single-family homes, condominiums, businesses, utilities and public infrastructure. It’s a no-win situation. Marin can cut those losses only with adaptation.

The grand jury recommends that “the Board of Supervisors, in collaboration with Marin’s cities, towns, Bel Marin Keys Community Service District and (Marin Municipal Water District) should create a comprehensive countywide authority to plan and implement adaptation efforts to address the impacts of sea level rise in Marin County.”

Jurors recommend that a countywide sea level rise authority be up and running by March 2025.




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