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Barbara Koh

Deluged San Francisco

By June 13, 2012

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An issue as gargantuan as climate change is difficult to truly understand, especially for non-scientific types like myself.  Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was one attempt to enlighten the masses, though it was bogged down with too much data (my one take-away: Polar bears are drowning because they have to swim too far between ice swaths).  Some creative folks in San Francisco, though, have now brought the issue home, in a set of topographical maps of a deluged San Francisco.

Sea levels having risen 200 feet, Divisadero is a harbor, Dolores is a cape and  Duboce a beach. Hayes Valley is an point and the Haight an inlet. As envisioned by Burrito Justice and local designer Brian Stokle, Potrero, Telegraph and Nob hills are all islands.

The Sunset is "Outside Sands" (a riff on its original name of "Outside Lands").  Castro is a bay (without pigs). San Francisco Aquarium is a truly submersible experience. Stern Grove is a shipyard, and the Presidio, in a return to its military past, is a submarine base.

And SoMa, the former home of social networking start-ups and their gazillionaire techies? It's simply "Soma Depths."

San Francisco circa 2072, as reported by Burrito Justice, has political issues and controversies that have historical undertones. Bernal Isle residents, for instance, complain about the design of a new bridge and "worry that the influx of new visitors will threaten the 'unique' character of the island." An investigation finds that Muni has exaggerated the on-time statistics for its sea-bus fleet since 2064, claiming the average speed is 20 knots, instead of 20 mph.

If 200 feet is unfathomable, there is the more likely scenario (and accompanying maps) of San Francisco a mere 25 feet underwater. The city's hills are still above-water hills, but Dolores is a cove. That could "actually happen in our lifetimes if the ice sheets in Greenland or Western Antarctica completely melted," Stokle writes.

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