Climate change is rapidly turning America the beautiful into America the stormy, sneezy, costly and dangerous, according to a comprehensive, federal scientific report released Tuesday.
Climate change’s assorted harms “are expected to become increasingly disruptive across the nation throughout this century and beyond,” the National Climate Assessment concluded Tuesday. The report emphasizes that warming and all-too-wild weather are changing daily lives, using the phrase “climate disruption” as another way of saying global warming.
In California, the effects of climate change are already being felt through the ongoing drought and more severe wildfires. State officials have noted that the state is experiencing more rain than snow, and earlier snow melts are putting increased pressure on the state’s critical levee system. There are a higher number of extreme heat days, while cold extremes have become more rare. The excessive heat reduces air quality and aggravates health conditions for the state’s most vulnerable residents, including those who suffer from asthma or heart disease.
California’s 1,100-mile long coastline is also at risk.
“In California, an estimated 260,000 people are currently exposed to a 100-year flood; this number could increase to 480,000 by 2100 as a result of a 4.6 foot sea level rise alone,” said the 840-page report. “Approximately 18 percent of those exposed to high flood risk by the end of this century also are those who currently fall into the “high social vulnerability” category. This means that while many coastal property owners at the storefront tend to be less socially vulnerable, adjacent populations just inland are often highly vulnerable.”
A region-specific memo distributed by the White House Tuesday pointed to the toll climate change is taking on agriculture.
“California produces about 95 percent of U.S. apricots, almonds, artichokes, figs, kiwis, raisins, olives, cling peaches, dried plums, persimmons, pistachios, olives, and walnuts, in addition to other high-value crops,” said the memo. “Drought and extreme weather affect the market value of fruits and vegetables more than other crops because they have high water content and because sales depend on good visual appearance. The combination of a longer frost-free season, less frequent cold air outbreaks, and more frequent heat waves accelerates crop ripening and maturity, reduces yields of corn, tree fruit, and wine grapes, stresses livestock, and increases agricultural water consumption. This combination of climate changes is projected to continue and intensify, possibly requiring a northward shift in crop production, displacing existing growers and affecting farming communities.” The White House is highlighting the report as it tries to jump-start often-stalled efforts to curb heat-trapping gases. President Obama will meet with popular weather forecasters in an effort to highlight the report’s significance.
SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News