This Is What Sea Level Rise Could Do to Santa Monica Pier

A new report by Climate Central shows what will happen to coastal areas if carbon emissions aren’t curbed

If simply being told that the land on which 10 percent of the world’s population lives could be lost to sea level rise if carbon emission trends continue doesn’t help you understand the ramifications of climate change, then perhaps these renderings will help it sink in.

Climate Central, an independent environmental non-profit, produced a collection of projections and videos to help people visualize what could become of popular sites all over the world, including the Santa Monica Pier, if emissions goals aren’t met and sea levels continue to rise.

Researchers say that the world is not on track to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement that calls for limiting global warming to 1.5C (2.7F), which could reduce the sea level rise exposure by roughly half, The Guardian reports. The Earth is currently on course to reach or exceed 3C (5.4F) warming by 2100, researchers say.

“A picture is worth 1,000 words, or 1,000 years in this case,” the lead author of the paper, Benjamin Strauss, said. He also serves as the CEO and chief scientist for Climate Central.

In the report, researchers applied various scenarios of warming to determine which communities are most vulnerable to sea level rise within the next 200 to 2,000 years.

Santa Monica Pier, present day (Climate Central)

“We’ve seen about a foot of sea level rise over the last century,” Strauss told The Guardian. “Looking forward we’re talking about 10 feet rise in the best case scenario and 30 feet in the worst.” Once it’s emitted, carbon dioxide stays in the atmosphere for centuries.

Strauss adds, “It’s probably easier for people to think of sea level rise as a problem that you can solve, or that there’s a certain amount of fixed sea level rise that we can plan for. But the truth is we’ve switched from a world where sea level was stable, to one where it is on a continual march upwards.”

Santa Monica Pier, +1.5C (Climate Central)

While it isn’t likely Santa Monica Pier will end up underwater during our lifetime (that’ll take centuries0), researchers say that the actions taken now and in the coming decades will determine the fate of coastal cities.

Beginning October 31, representatives from every country in the world will meet in Glasgow for the Cop26 climate conference to discuss goals and to forge a global response to the climate emergency, The Guardian reports.

Santa Monica Pier, +3C (Climate Central)

“The decisions that we make at Glasgow and the actions that we take this decade will ramify for hundreds and thousands of years,” Strauss said. “This group is going to be remembered for what they chose: did you choose a thriving future with a livable climate or did you choose to drown the coastal places of the world?”

Stay on top of the latest in L.A. food and culture. Sign up for our newsletters today.