There aren’t many positive things you can say about global warming, but were one pressed to do so it might be that its consequences are at least democratic: Nobody, even the most privileged, escapes its harmful effects. That was demonstrated last week by drone video that captured amped-up waves battering expensive homes on Southern California’s vulnerable coastline.
Drone video shows expensive coastal homes battered by unusually powerful summer waves
The extreme surf conditions that slammed Orange County beachside property over the weekend was caught in a drone video filming the unseasonably large, powerful waves. Giving those breakers even more force were exceptionally large tides bringing them higher onto land. Orange County Register photographer Jeff Gritchen was ready for those overlapping factors, and flew his craft over several locales as they were getting the worst of the converging oceanic conditions.
The footage he got of homes worth millions being slammed by walls of crashing water was another example of the terrible effects global warming is having – and how those are only going to get worse over time.
The footage is also a reminder of how complex, far-reaching, and intertwined the various consequences of global warming often are. Though the high tidal phase is a natural recurring phenomenon, the heavy summer surf isn’t. Last week’s case was caused by several factors tied to rising temperature that are generating the kind of waves usually experienced in winter (and which themselves are an increasing threat to coastal property).
That exceptionally rough August surf, meanwhile, occurred amid ocean levels that continue to rise as the earth heats up, shrinking distances between beach front property and the water. If all that weren’t bad enough for owners of houses whose backyards or dining rooms open up on the ocean, human efforts to impede advancing seawater have tended to accelerate erosion in surrounding areas, making the very problem being battled even worse.
“I think that these homeowners are in a really difficult situation because it’s not going to get better, it’s only going to get worse,” Donne Brownsey, vice chair of the California Coastal Commission, told the Register, noting the urgency of moving to remedy the underlying cause – and hoping that can slow the ocean’s offensive. “We’ll be with them every step of the way to help them make those tough decisions.”
Selective prevention when it’s already (virtually) too late
As Gritchen’s drone video shows, however, it’s evident the situation is bound to get worse for properties now being pummeled before they improve – if, that is, truly dramatic steps are finally taken to arrest global warming. In some of the Southern California locales the drone pilot filmed, grimly realistic local authorities have stopped trying to protect land and infrastructure that now appear destined to be swept away, focusing instead on winnable battles.
Some beaches have started disappearing during winter storms, for example, with some never returning once storms pass and gentle currents usually redeposit sand. Others reappear in significantly slimmed-down form, leaving only several feet between the kinds of sidewalks, parking lots and roadways Gritchen’s drone video shot under water after being flushed by waves.
As sea levels rise and coastal erosion leaves fewer barriers between houses and increasingly brutal waves, odds increase that expensive homes on California beaches will go the way all sand castles eventually do.
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