By this point, there's no question that climate change is forcing sea levels to rise. While it's important to figure out how to stop this, just as important is seeing what's going to be affected when all is said and done. What will we lose when the ocean tries to swallow us back up?
The National Park Service asked that question, not least because they have a whole lot of infrastructure hanging around near the ocean. And they found an answer.
The NPS took conservative estimates of how high the levels will rise (the number they used: one meter in the next 100 to 150 years) and figured out how many structural assets (roads, buildings, bridges, lighthouses, tunnels, etc.) they have located within that range of the ocean. After the numbers were crunched, they figured out how much they would lose over the next century-plus: $40 billion worth of park assets.
California's coastal parks are -- as you'd imagine, due to the proximity to the ocean -- at particularly high risk. In all, eight are predicted to suffer damage due to the rising sea levels. Here are the specifics:
Golden Gate National Recreational Area has the most assets at risk. Eighty-nine percent of its 1,049 assets are deemed "low" risk and 11% "high" with a "current replacement value" of $617.6 million. San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park has 43% of its 49 assets at "high" risk with a value of $262.7 million. Five of the 17 assets at Fort Point National Historic Site are "high" risk ($191.2 million), as are 14% of Channel Islands National Park's 166 assets ($46.7 million). Point Reyes National Seashore has 4% of its assets at "high" risk ($34.9 million) as does Redwood National Park ($7.9 million).
It's worth noting that these are not all the parks that are at risk. A second study, featuring an additional 30 coastal parks, is currently underway.