May 06 2014
Washington—The Obama administration today released the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, a comprehensive report on climate change and how it will affect the country and economy.
The report, which summarizes effects of climate change on the United States, was compiled by a team of more than 300 experts. According to the White House, the report was reviewed by a wide range of stakeholders including the National Academy of Sciences.
“The conclusions in this report echo those of other studies: climate change is real and the effects we see today will only accelerate if we don’t take action,” said Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.). “There is no silver bullet to combat climate change. We have to reduce our carbon footprint by limiting greenhouse gas pollution, adopting energy efficient technologies and developing renewable energy resources.
“If we don’t take bold action, climate change will affect almost every aspect of life for Californians,” Feinstein continued. “The report warns that California will face hotter and drier conditions that will lead to increased drought and wildfires. These effects, combined with already scarce water resources, hold dire implications for the state. We are likely to witness more extreme weather events and higher sea levels that will lead to storm surges, inland flooding, landslides and loss of fresh water supplies due to sea water intrusion.”
Key takeaways from the report for California:
•Water scarcity: Surface and groundwater resources in California are already stressed by the ongoing drought. Climate change is expected to intensify droughts, reduce snowpack, introduce saltwater into California’s coastal aquifers and exacerbate water demands. As a result, the risk to water supplies in many counties will increase from high to extreme.
•Agriculture: Climate change will lead to major challenges for agriculture, with higher average temperatures, moisture imbalances, irrigation water scarcity, insect outbreaks and heat intensity. California currently produces 95 percent of domestic apricots, almonds, artichokes, figs, kiwis, raisins, olives, cling peaches and many other high-value crops with high water content. Climate change could displace the farming industry, resulting in serious implications for the California’s economy.
•Wildfire: The report warns that climate change will increase the intensity of wildfires that could lead to a 74 percent increase in surface area burned in California. Northern California could experience twice as much surface area burned by the end of the century under the high-emissions scenario.
•Flooding: Currently, an estimated 260,000 Californians are exposed to the risk of a once-in-a-century coastal flood. Sea levels have already risen approximately seven inches in the last century and is expected to rise at an even higher rate this century. If sea levels rise by three feet, as projected, the number of Californians at risk from flooding could increase to 480,000. More intense storms will further increase flooding risks from inland runoff.
•Social vulnerability: Some groups of people are less able to prepare for and recover from natural disasters because of their socioeconomic status. These vulnerable populations make up almost one-fifth of individuals exposed to high flood risks.
•Ecology: Valuable coastal wetlands—especially the San Francisco Bay and San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta—are increasingly jeopardized by rising temperatures, erosion, flooding, and changes in salinity caused by higher sea levels.
The report is available online here: www.whitehouse.gov/climate-change.