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Seattle prepping for climate change

SEATTLE – Seattle officials predict that parts of the city will be underwater as the shoreline creeps higher due to global climate change.

City agencies are calculating the local effects of climate change and how to respond and adapt to protect people and infrastructure, the Seattle Times reported.

Agencies are preparing for more intense heat, protecting the new downtown sea wall under construction, and calculating the number of pump stations and outfalls that will be underwater, as they anticipate sea-level rise caused by heat-trapping greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Calculations by the Washington Climate Impacts Group and the Washington Department of Ecology published in 2008 predict a sea-level rise in Seattle of 6 inches by 2050. Less-likely scenarios are sea-level rises of 3 inches on the low end and 22 inches on the high end, the Times reported.

A green ribbon commission has come up with recommendations to respond to climate changes.

City Council members have scheduled a news conference today to unveil a map showing neighborhoods of Seattle that are likely to be flooded by rising sea levels.

“We did this map to understand impacts on our infrastructure,” Paul Fleming, manager of climate and sustainability for Seattle Public Utilities, told the Times. “In the big picture, this isn’t just about sea-level rise. It’s about drinking water, urban flooding, and how we design new projects.”

Councilmember Mike O’Brien said city officials are united in recognizing the importance of global climate change. He said there’s a lot that the city can employ to respond, including tolling to discourage driving, and energy efficiencies in heating and cooling buildings.