Highway 1 faces uncertain future as climate change impacts Big Sur

Climate change is jeopardizing the future of Big Sur’s iconic Highway 1, causing frequent landslides and threatening the local economy dependent on tourism.

Emily Witt reports for The New Yorker.


In short:

  • Landslides have repeatedly closed parts of Highway 1, cutting off Big Sur from essential access.
  • The local economy, heavily reliant on tourism, suffers whenever the highway is impassable.
  • Climate change exacerbates the frequency and severity of natural disasters affecting the area.

Key quote:

“This old two-lane craggy road along the coast is probably becoming one of the most expensive roads on the coast of California. On the other hand, it is classic California. It’s the Yosemite of the coast.”

— Sam Farr, former congressman

Why this matters:

Highway 1 is not just a road; it is the lifeline that connects visitors to the stunning vistas, unique wildlife, and quaint communities of Big Sur. With each closure, local businesses suffer, from charming bed-and-breakfasts to restaurants and outdoor adventure companies. The economic ripple effects extend far beyond the immediate area, impacting the broader Central Coast region.

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