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California EPA on Global Warming

Climate Change in California from Cal EPA

Climate Change in California from Cal EPA

A recent editorial in the San Jose Mercury News calls for California to continue to lead the climate change fight. They plea that “If we care about the lives our great-grandchildren will live on earth, then we have to act. And action has to start somewhere. We’re proud that one of the places setting the pace for a better future is California.”

“This is ultimately a global challenge, and only a global commitment to action can curb the pollutants accelerating climate change. The world hasn’t done enough for many reasons. The deniers are one, but there’s also the after-you impulse: Why should America bother when China is choking on pollutants?”

The California EPA in an August 2013 report entitled Climate Change Report Documents Growing Impacts on California’s Environment affirms that “Climate change is having a significant and measurable impact on California’s environment.”

The new report complements a consensus statement released in May, 2013 by Governor Edmund G. Brown and signed by thousands of researchers and scientists “identifying climate change as one of five key threats to the environment that require immediate action.”

Key findings of the report include:

  • Temperatures: The state’s high, low and average temperatures are all rising, and extreme heat events also have increased in duration and frequency. The rate of warming has accelerated since the mid-1970s, and night time (minimum) temperatures have increased almost twice as fast as maximum (daytime) temperatures.
  • Wildfires: The number of acres burned by wildfires has been increasing since 1950. The size, severity, duration and frequency of wildfires are greatly influenced by climate. The three largest fire years on record in California occurred in the last decade, and annual acreage burned since 2000 is almost twice that for the 1950-2000 period.
  • Water: Spring snowmelt runoff has decreased, indicating warmer winter temperatures and more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. Earlier and decreased runoff can reduce water supplies, even when overall rainfall remains the same. This trend could mean less water available for agriculture, the environment and a growing population.
  • Coast and Ocean: A number of indicators reflect physical and biological changes in the ocean, impacting a range of marine species, including sea lions, seabirds and salmon. And data for Monterey Bay shows increased carbon dioxide levels in coastal waters, which can harm shell-forming organisms and have impacts throughout the marine food chain.
  • Species Migration: Certain plants and animals have responded to habitat changes influenced by warming. For example, conifer forests in the Sierra Nevada have been moving upslope and certain small mammals in Yosemite National Park have moved to higher elevations compared to the early 1900s.

Climate change deniers must be soundly repudiated and held accountable for foot-dragging.  Individuals must be take actions where they are able. Positive actions must also be taken by our elected officials at the local, state and national levels. California is correct in leading the way. Meeting this challenge globally needs to be a priority in United States international negotiations and agreements. Spread the word by sharing this post.