Impact of California’s Actions
Based on 1998 data, a 20% reduction in GHG emissions from California would be greater than the total emissions from individual countries like Austria, Chile, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Norway, Luxembourg, Finland, and Portugal.
California has the 6th largest economy in the world. What happens here, matters!
Impact of Climate Change in California
The sea level is rising along California’s coast, perhaps as much as 7 inches in the last 150 years. Another 8 – 12 inch rise could have severe impacts on the San Francisco Bay-Delta which provides water to more than 20 million Californians. Salt-water intrusion into the Delta would degrade the quality of water we currently pump to the southern part of the state.
With 1,600+ miles of coastline, many coastal cities will be vulnerable to a rise in sea level that could cause beach erosion and saltwater intrusion into estuaries and rivers used for agriculture. Coastal cities will also be at greater risk to extreme weather events associated with global warming.
The California mountain snow pack is shrinking. Warmer and shorter winters have reduced the annual snow pack, and the snow is melting earlier. Over the past 100 years, spring runoff has decreased by about 10 percent. At the same time, longer and hotter summers are increasing demand for water. New research by scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography predicts that critical water sources will be cut by 15-30 percent in the 21st century. The California Energy Commission has stated that the observed and projected impacts of climate change in California include hotter days, additional smog, sea level rise, and a 15 to 30 percent reduction in surface water supply to California’s cities and farms over this century.
Over the last century, the average temperature in Fresno, California, has increased from 61.9 degrees F(1899-1928 average) to 63.3 degrees F (1966-1995 average), and precipitation has decreased by up to 20% in many parts of the state.
Agriculture: The mix of crop and livestock production in a state is influenced by climatic conditions and water availability. As climate warms, production patterns will shift northward. Increases in climate variability could make adaptation by farmers more difficult. Warmer climates and less soil moisture due to increased evaporation may increase the need for irrigation. However, these same conditions could decrease water supplies, which also may be needed by natural ecosystems, urban populations, and other economic sectors.
Human Health: Worsened air quality, increased risk of vector-borne diseases. Higher temperatures and increased frequency of heat waves may increase the number of heat-related illnesses. Cities such as Los Angeles that experience occasional very hot, dry weather may be especially susceptible. One study estimates that a 3 degree F warming could almost double the heat-related deaths in Los Angeles, from 70 (in 1997) to 125 (although increased air conditioning use may not have been fully accounted for). Little change in winter mortality is expected.
Ecosystems: Climate change could have an impact on many of California’s species and ecosystems. Without natural corridors to allow migration, isolated species could be limited in their ability to adapt to climate change. Plant and animal species near the borders of their ranges are likely to be most affected. Climate change could create more opportunity for the establishment and spread of weeds and pests.