Jerry Schubel, CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific, had a blunt message Monday night for homeowners in the flood plain.
“You should think about moving,” he told a crowd of about 250 residents, most of whom live in the Naples Island, Belmont Shore and Peninsula areas.
The city of Long Beach organized the event at the Golden Sails Hotel as part of an effort to get out the word and gather input for its Climate Action and Adaptation Plan, which leaders anticipate finalizing this fall. The plan may eventually guide everything from building standards to emergency response.
Using national data, the city anticipates waters along the coast could rise as much as 11 inches by 2030, 23 inches by 2050, and anywhere from 36 to 66 inches by 2100.
In the 2030 scenario, high tides could damage up to 10 city-owned buildings, along with hundreds of homes and businesses.
Officials are beyond the stage of thinking efforts to combat climate change, such as emissions reductions, may reverse the consequences to come. Much of the damage is already “baked in” to the climate for at least the next few decades, said Schubel, one of the panelists invited to speak.
“We are going to be living in a warmer world,” he said. “We need to adjust to the new normal.”
Residents of Naples, Belmont Shore and the Peninsula already experience episodic flooding during high tides and storm surges. Eventually, these episodic events will increase to the point where living in low-lying areas is no longer feasible, Schubel said.
Until that happens, residents can shore up their homes by raising structures above the sea level, venting low-lying areas, bolting homes to the foundation and investing in other new technologies, said Jeff Jeannette of Jeannette Architects, who also spoke.
“The water will win,” he conceded, but until then residents should prepare.
In addition to sea level rise, other effects of climate change include continued water shortages, worsening air quality and hotter days, the latter of which will impact up to 274,000 residents of Long Beach, by far the largest group. Those who will be impacted the most are residents of the Central, West and North parts of town where there is less tree cover and more paved streets.
The city will hold another event on its CAAP plan to look at these other impacts from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 26, at Michelle Obama Neighborhood Library, 5870 Atlantic Ave.