California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment released in August is the latest in the state’s exemplary series of reports on the state’s vulnerability to climate change. Highlights from the summary of findings include:
- Under a medium-low future emissions average statewide temperatures are projected to rise by 4.4°F by mid-century and 5.6° by end of century. Under a high emissions future, temperatures are projected to rise by 5.8° by mid-century and 8.8° by end of century. These changes would dwarf the temperature increases that have already occurred, of more than 1° for most of the state, with some areas exceeding 2°.
- Increasing acreage burned by wildfire is associated with increasing air temperatures. One Fourth Assessment model suggests large wildfires (greater than 25,000 acres) could become 50% more frequent by the end of century if emissions are not reduced. The model produces more years with extremely high areas burned, even compared to the historically destructive wildfires of 2017 and 2018. By the end of the century, California could experience wildfires that burn up to a maximum of 178% more acres per year than current averages.
- By 2050, the average water supply from snowpack is projected to decline by one-third from historical levels, with either medium-low or high continued emissions. If emissions continue unchecked, water from snowpack could fall to less than one-third of historical levels by 2100.
- If emissions continue at current rates, total sea-level rise by 2100 is projected to be four and a half feet, almost twice the rise that would occur under the medium RCP 4.5 scenario.
The assessment website in itself is a model for making accessible the high volume of material that goes into compiling a comprehensive assessment, breaking out vulnerabilities under a broad framework (people, infrastructure, transportation, natural and working lands and waters, ocean and coast), and that is further broken down into specific impacts (increases in temperature, wildfire, sea level, etc.). Findings are presented on both a statewide and sub-regional basis.
The state of our climate
- The Trump administration’s proposal to replace the Clean Power Plan removed dire mentions of climate change.
- Low income neighborhoods are feeling the heat of climate change more intensely than wealthy ones.
- Workers also need protection from the heat as they labor in extreme temperatures.
- Fires are reshaping the US West and climate change is only making things worse.
- On the opposite side of the country, an ocean “heat wave” drove Maine waters to near-record highs.
- Farther south down the coast you’ll find the home of the East Coast’s fastest-rising sea level.
- While we’re on the topic: many major airports are near sea level. A disaster in Japan shows what can go wrong.
- Want even more proof? Visit a national park to see the real impacts of climate change.
- School’s back in session, but maybe not for long. Is the “heat day” the new snow day?
- Algal blooms are popping up in drinking water supplies across the country as climate change feeds the dangerous health threat.
- A hat tip to Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto who says, “We cannot afford to ignore climate science.”
Safeguards under attack
- Trump’s EPA is laying the groundwork to remake rules on mercury emissions from power plants, which would change devalue how the Agency measures human life and health.
- The administration’s pursuit of “transparency” belies a hidden agenda.
- Not so hidden: the administration’s attempts to open loopholes for coal plants.
- Of course, those same rollbacks will sadly hit the citizens of coal country hard, making them sicker.
- Add another to the long list of climate skeptics making it into the Trump administration.
- Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are pressing EPA to act more quickly on dangerous chemicals.
Some good news!
- It’s not all bad, of course: a report says that action to combat climate change could add $26 trillion to the world economy by 2030.
- Right on cue, a strong step: the world’s largest offshore wind farm has officially opened off the coast of England.
- The Global Climate Action Summit will kick off next week in San Francisco. Here’s a guide of all you need to know.
- Thousands of cities and counties are fighting back against one of the Trump administration’s most reckless attacks.
- Even with Trump working to save coal plants, utilities are still hesitant to invest in them.
- Hundreds of young conservatives visited Washington DC this week in support of clean energy.
- Ok, it’s not all good. Roger Federer lost in the US Open, and global warming might have played a part in the upset.