Silicon Valley is sinking. Literally.

At least, according to Scientific American. The outlet reported this week that the low-lying, high-tech hub—home to industry heavyweights such as Facebook and Google—faces real danger of devastation because of rising sea levels and outdated levees.

"It's going to be a huge threat, with sea level rise projections skyrocketing now,” Eric Mruz, manager of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, told Scientific American.

According to the outlet, a great deal of the California coastline is at risk, but Silicon Valley is especially exposed to the effects of climate change. The area has always been at a low elevation, but the ground sank even further when water was pumped out of the area in the 1900s to make way for orchards. Silicon Valley fell to 3 to 10 feet below sea level.

For the moment, there is little understanding among residents and businesses of the potential risks, according to Steven McCormick, president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, a Palo Alto, Calif.-based group that works with environmental conservation. 

"When you talk about a 50-year time horizon in terms of sea level rise, people's eyes sort of glaze over because that's too long for planning,” McCormick told the outlet. 

Will Travis, senior advisor to the Bay Area Joint Policy Committee, told the outlet that the industry mindset just doesn’t work with long-term environmental preparedness. The typical life cycle of Silicon Valley products is short, so “they don't think long-term," he said.

Published on: Jan 3, 2013