For years, decades actually, people around the world have known about the dangers of climate change and sea level rise and largely chosen to ignore our collective fraught future. There are a number of reasons for that willful denial. One of them is that it’s sometimes difficult to picture what is just over the horizon.

Enter Coastsider Christina Conklin and her seaweed.

Conklin is the co-author, along with sustainability expert Marina Psaros, of “The Atlas of Disappearing Places.” She and her book, which was published last year, are the focus of a special virtual discussion facilitated by the San Mateo County Libraries. Conklin will talk about the book, the environment and our opportunities to save ourselves at 6:30 p.m. on April 20. (Registration is required. Visit smcl.org and click the Events tab to navigate to the discussion. At last check, the Half Moon Bay branch also had free copies of the hardcover book for the taking.)

There are many resources for those wishing to learn about sea level rise. It can be tough reading partly because the topic is complex. A Google search returns hundreds of seemingly contradictory results from an array of sources, some more reliable than others.

Conklin and Psaros find a way through the thicket by organizing their colorful, coffee-table-sized book into four parts: “Changing Chemistry,” “Strengthening Storms,” “Warming Waters” and “Rising Seas.” They find examples from around the world, from the Bay Area to Bangladesh, to explain how a rising sea is affecting people and the planet. It’s relatable science for non-scientists.

The highlight may be the seaweed. Conklin, who is an artist, writer and researcher, told Review staff writer Emma Spaeth that the memorable maps in the book began with a trip to Pillar Point Harbor. She developed an ink-on-dried-seaweed technique to illustrate current and future effects of sea level rise, and the images are illuminating.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration recently reported U.S. residents can expect as much as a foot of sea level rise over the next 30 years. There are estimates that 13 million Americans will need to flee coastal areas for more inland living arrangements by 2100. The Guardian published a story last week detailing how that migration has already begun right here in the United States.

Yet we continue to act as if climate change is a problem for our grandkids. Of course it will be, but we can work now to mitigate their pain.

Conklin nods to our descendants in the book’s dedication. “To the ocean, and all the people acting bravely to change the story of our fragile, fluid planet. And to the readers who find this in a used bookstore in 50 years and do what is needed next.”

It is also incumbent upon us all to do what is needed now.

Clay Lambert is the editorial director for Coastside News Group. After years working at regional daily newspapers, he began as editor of the Half Moon Bay Review in 2004.

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