Facebook has built its new headquarters in a place where employees may soon have to commute by canoe, according to even the most optimistic forecasts of rising sea levels. The shiny headquarters of Facebook and other Silicon Valley tech giants are among many Bay Area properties, worth around $100 billion in total, believed to be at risk from climate change, with another $20 billion or so in new developments planned for some of the riskiest shoreline areas, the Guardian reports. Social networking probably won't be a major priority if sea levels rise several feet by the end of the century as expected, but storms could flood the Facebook campus, as well as the surrounding roads, much sooner.
"Facebook is very vulnerable," says Lindy Lowe, a senior planner at the Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission. "They built on a very low site—I don't know why they chose to build there." UC Berkeley environmental planning expert Kristina Hill tells the Guardian that Google's "Googleplex" HQ is also at risk from even a small rise. She says that with a red-hot property market in the area, greedy developers have put property—and lives—at risk by doing "some fairly insane things" on former wetlands that are extremely vulnerable to flooding. (A recent study warned that Antarctica's western ice sheet could push sea levels up much faster than expected.)