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California faces billion dollar bill from climate change

california.jpgClimate change could cost California tens of billions of dollars a year, according to a draft government report.

The Climate Action Team, tasked by the state to produce biennial science assessments on climate change and California, sees potential impacts on agriculture, forestry, energy, water and health, as well as problems from sea-level rise.

“The basic conclusion is that climate change will impose substantial costs to Californians in the order of tens of billions of dollars annually,” says the report (pdf). It adds that “costs will be substantially lower if global emissions of greenhouse gases are curtailed”.

Michael Hanemann, of UC Berkeley and an author of the report, told Reuters that the summary of 37 research studies painted a bleaker picture than the last report. “As you fill in the detail, the whole gets worse,” he says.

Local coverage below the fold.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a statement today on the release of the Climate Action Team (CAT) Draft Biennial Report.

“Today’s new research reveals that California’s severe drought conditions are only a preview of what is likely to come because of our changing climate,” Governor Schwarzenegger said. “California’s drought has already had devastating effects on our people, our communities, our economy, our agriculture and our environment. We have been aggressively working to not only fight climate change but adapt to it, which is why we must upgrade California’s water infrastructure to ensure a clean and reliable water supply. The actions we are taking will reduce the devastating impacts of climate change on future generations.”

Imperial Valley News


In its response, the state is restoring wetlands to accommodate rising tides, planning to protect water supplies and highways, preparing firefighters and medical workers for wildfires and heat waves, opening corridors for wildlife migrations and regulating greenhouse gases that drive global warming.

California’s temperatures have risen about 1 degree over the last century, and they could jump as much as 3 degrees in the next 30 years and, under the most extreme scenario, as much as 10 degrees by the end of the century, say Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists who led the research.

SF Chronicle


By the final decades of the century, acreage burned across much of the state’s northern forests could easily double and under some scenarios quadruple, said Anthony Westerling, an assistant professor of geography and environmental engineering at UC Merced.

The reason is simple: As the temperature rises, the fire season lengthens and woodlands get drier, burning more readily. Moreover, if growth continues at the wild-land edge, more fire will mean mounting home losses — as high as $14 billion a year by century’s end.

LA Times


Previous Climate Action Team coverage

Dire scenarios presented on global warming – Sac Bee

Ocean expected to rise 5 feet along coastlines – SF Chronicle

Photo: by Ken Lund via Flickr under Creative Commons.

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