Public Press Weekly: Mapping Mother Earth

The Bay Area has its environmental challenges — drought, temblors here and there, and occasional triple-digit temperatures. But climate change has introduced a new threat: sea level rise, with tides predicted to be as much as 10 feet higher before the end of the century (Public Press). We’re doing more than wishing for a different outcome. Recruited to participate in the Resilient by Design project, 10 teams will map strategies for how the Bay Area can best react to future coastal inundations (KQED Science). In a salvo against a soggy future, San Francisco and Oakland have separately sued five major oil companies over the firms’ role in global warming, and the cities want billions to pay for projects protecting Bay Area people and property against rising seas (BuzzFeed News).

Mapping bad stuff isn’t limited to floods. If you’re worried about whether your home will fall through a fissure in the next earthquake, you can take a look at the U.S. Geological Survey’s liquefaction susceptibility map of San Francisco (SF Gate). It pinpoints the kinds of soils that affect how much a building shakes in a quake, like, bedrock (low risk) to landfill (high risk). This bit of information, depending on where you’re living, would be a good thing to know before the next Big One.

Also in the news is the improved mapping tool of the Environmental Protection Agency, the Environmental Justice Screening and Mapping Tool (Earth Island Journal). It now allows the public to overlay the locations of the country’s 6,000-plus prisons, jails and detention centers with information about environmental hazards such as superfund and hazardous waste sites.

The Bay Area: the Good, the Bad and the Pricey

The economy here is fine shape, so says a recent study: “Bay Area Economy Growing Three Times Faster Than National Average” (San Francisco Business Times). But that’s cold comfort to those thinking about fleeing because of the stratospheric housing costs: “Amid Housing Pain, Most Californians Have Weighed a Move” (New York Times). Housing woes have punched up the state’s poverty rate to the highest in the country: “How Sky-High Housing Costs Make California the Poorest State” (CALmatters).

Traffic is also a factor in the misery calculus, having increased in the Bay Area 80 percent since 2010: “Traffic on Major Bay Area Freeways Has Grown 80 Percent Since 2010” (The Mercury News).

There are a few bright spots, though.

Parents whose child-care costs are a major budget buster soon may be getting a break, at least in San Francisco: “Parents Say High Cost Is a Major Barrier to Obtaining Child Care” (EdSource). The Board of Supervisors weighed in by backing a ballot measure to guarantee access to affordable child care: “Supervisors Propose Universal Child Care Ballot Measure” (Hoodline).

Those who help feed people in need might learn from the Trinity County Food Bank, which successfully operates in one of the state’s most food insecure places: “In Isolated Trinity County, This Man Is a Food Lifeline” (KQED News).