How safe are you from the Great Flood?

Should you fear the ocean? Take a spin on the Sea Level Rise Explorer and find out.

By Andrew Leonard

Published April 14, 2008 9:54PM (EDT)

After an animated discussion of an ermine sighting with another hiker while tramping about on Tomales Point in California's Point Reyes peninsula on Sunday, I was mildly troubled by the man's parting comment. Gazing down at Tomales Bay, he muttered something about how the people who lived in houses near the shoreline would be up the creek, so to speak, when water levels rose 20 feet. And he seemed to be pleased by the prospect.

As I walked away, it occurred to me that Tomales Bay runs right on top of the San Andreas Fault, and anyone who lives on a major fault line has already made their peace with the prospects of devastating environmental catastrophe. But that still didn't stop me from figuring out just how safe my home is from rising ocean levels, once I discovered (via TreeHugger) the peachy-keen Sea Level Rise Explorer, a mashup of NASA space shuttle-compiled topography data with Google Maps concocted by Global Warming Art.

Talk about your Orange Alerts! On the Sea Level Rise Explorer, shades of red spell trouble. The darker green, the better. I was pleased to note that my "flatlands" home in Berkeley was solidly medium green, or about 20 feet above sea level. So I'm relatively safe.

"Not if Greenland and Antarctica melt," grumbled my daughter, darkly, after I pointed this out. She finds the whole idea of global warming-induced sea level rise possibly taking place during her own lifetime extraordinarily annoying, and holds me pretty directly accountable for it.

But hey, at least we saw an ermine.

Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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