California faces a cascade of catastrophes as sea level rises

The first thing to go will be California's calling card: its beaches.

Between a third and two-thirds⁠ of Southern California beaches will succumb to sea-level rise by the end of this century unless global fossil fuel emissions are dramatically reined in, according to a 2017 U.S. Geological Survey report⁠. They will be "completely eroded (up to existing coastal infrastructure or sea-cliffs)." Zuma, Redondo and Del Mar, among many others, could all but disappear.

As the beaches recede, California will lose a crucial economic driver. The state's last major free recreational area will vanish along with our defenses against coastal storms. Our regional identity will shift as we're forced to turn inland.

The inundation news gets worse. A state-commissioned 2009 report by Oakland's Pacific Institute found that in even a medium to medium-high emissions scenario, nearly half a million Californians, predominantly minorities and the poor, will be vulnerable to flooding by century's end.

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