Gov. Brown holds summit on climate change


San Francisco International Airport, for instance, could be under nearly two feet of water and most of Highway 101 along with the entire town of Foster City would become submerged.

Low-lying Foster City could become the future flood zone if sea levels rise 55 inches as predicted. The park where dogs run will become one where dogs swim instead.

"I live high on a hill, which is why I'm not concerned," said one Foster City resident, and that blasé attitude is one reason why Brown convened climate change experts for an all-day conference looking at future threats for California.

"Air pollution, it goes to public health," said Matt Rodriguez with the EPA. "It goes to the quality of our water, the availability of our water. It goes to extreme events such as fires and droughts."

The potential problem of flooding alone will cost billions.

"This is going to cost money," said Brown, "and the longer we wait to reduce carbon emissions, then the more expensive the mitigation and the adaptation is going to take."

Imagine Oakland and San Francisco airports, along with the Peninsula, all underwater in 50 to 100 years.

The only good news: These predictions are based on projections and are what might happen if we stand idly by and do nothing.

"The idea is not to predict the future, but to prevent this future in which we would lose so much of the Bay Area that we value," said Will Travis with the San Francisco Bay Conservation Commission.

San Francisco's Embarcadero waterfront stands to lose plenty of real estate. When storms and tides combined to create flooded conditions in 2002, they weren't just a freak event, but a harbinger of what may happen more frequently.

"What we think we're going to have to do is look at the areas that we protect, and the areas that we decide we're going to fall back on," said Steve Goldbeck with the California Conservation Development Commission. "Some of the areas we may be able to allow the water to come in and live with water."

Fifty-five inches in 100 years is a problem that most of us are not likely to see, but our children may.

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