The phrase “perfect storm” gets tossed around a lot, often incorrectly. But it feels appropriate now, as we struggle through a COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged public health and the economy, leading up to a politically charged election, during a time of massive social unrest. We are facing that rare combination of circumstances that seem primed to intensify each other’s effects and stir significant turmoil.

This is not the only storm on our horizon, however. As the California Legislative Analyst’s Office warned in an August report, “Science has shown that the changing climate will result in a gradual and permanent rise in global sea levels. Given the significant public infrastructure, housing, natural resources, and commerce located along California’s 840 miles of coastline, the certainty of rising seas poses a serious and costly threat.” As the LAO went on to explain, the hazards of these encroaching waters will be exacerbated by another consequence of climate change: more frequent and extreme storms. So not only do we have a metaphoric perfect storm to deal with in the short term, we also have several literal ones headed our way in the long term.

And we at the League of Women Voters are preparing for both.

For the near future, we remind you as always that 20 local Leagues across the Bay Area stand ready to help you navigate election season challenges, while the state League offers you the invaluable Voter’s Edge California. Also, we’ll be featuring election coverage throughout October in our weekly Monitor Notes email newsletter.

With an eye on the more distant future, this edition of the magazine focuses on sea-level rise, starting with front and back cover images from Pacifica, a town particularly at risk. Then Aleta George explains how surging tides will affect the islands in our region, and Cecily O’Connor examines what they will do to our roadways. On the proactive side, Robin Meadows reveals how planners are streamlining adaptation efforts, and Leslie Stewart looks into elimination of atmosphere-heating (and thus climate-changing) diesel exhaust. As you’ll see, there are some rough waters ahead, but hopefully we can manage to navigate them together.

Alec MacDonald
Editor, Bay Area Monitor