Press release from 350 Humboldt:

On October 26 a group of local activists from 350 Humboldt will be seen once again along California-Highway 101 carrying alarming messages about looming climate-change-driven sea level rise. “With climate change, sea level rises. Within 30 years, this road will be underwater” messages read. Like the Burma-Shave advertisements many people will remember from days past, activists will stand one-by-one down the highway, about 100 feet apart, each carrying a few words of the message that could be read sign-by-sign as drivers passed. This will be their third action in the past 2 months. Each action has been on a different roadway to attract attention to the widespread nature of projected sea level rise impacts to come.

Although many people are peripherally aware of sea level rise threats, activists believe that the public is not yet aware of how quickly it will come and how drastically it will impact their everyday lives. “The public generally acknowledges the reality of climate change,” local activist Jamie Blatter shares. “But they don’t all believe that climate change will impact them significantly in their lifetimes. We are trying to show them that this couldn’t be further from the truth.”

For many motorists in the area, portions of the road they rely upon will become impassable within a few decades. This is true of many other areas in the region, including Highway 101 south of Bracut Road, Bayside cutoff, G street south of 1st street in Arcata, Highway 255 between Arcata and Samoa, a large swath of King Salmon, and other locations. Fields Landing could flood from emerging groundwater. An additional present concern is the 41 miles of dikes on Humboldt Bay that were not designed with sea level rise in mind. If these dikes fail, which could happen at any time rather than decades from now, thousands of acres would flood on a daily basis, putting critical utility and transportation infrastructure at risk immediately. These projections are based on existing and moderate levels of emissions, which scientists agree is virtually certain to occur. In fact, sea level rise is occurring at a significantly more rapid pace than predicted, which is also true of many other disasters caused by climate change. Because climate change impacts become “locked” into the climate system and are not quickly or easily reversed, a damaging amount of sea level rise is unavoidable regardless of actions taken today.However, swift and bold action is still urgent, as unchecked emissions will only make projected sea level rise worse. If we take bold climate action now, catastrophic levels of sea level rise will still occur but we can reduce the amount of loss and damages that we and our children will face.

“I am standing out here today because 30 years is not that far from now,” says local climate activist Gail Coonen. “My youngest grandchild will be just 30. Wherever he goes in the world, he will experience the impacts of catastrophic climate change.”

Activists plan to continue holding similar demonstrations throughout the region to alert motorists to the mounting climate impacts that are well underway. “People slow to read the signs, and it is obvious that some people were impacted, and even shocked, by what they were seeing” says local activist Kasia Tomkiel.

To get involved in local climate action, visit 350 Humboldt at

An Aug. 14 demonstration along the peninsula. Photos: Jamie Blatter, 350 Humboldt.