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Experts Call on Communities to Act and Adapt to Climate Change

By Media Office Staff

Climate change experts who recently gathered at the California Energy Commission called on communities to act and adapt to the expected adverse effects of climate change.


The August 30 workshop was part of California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, a collaboration between the Energy Commission, the California Natural Resources Agency, and the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research. The assessment is a planning tool to help communities prepare for climate change.


The assessment presented more than 50 reports, many of which forecast a future characterized by devastating wildfires, rising seas, heat waves, and dramatic shifts in weather. The Mendocino Complex wildfire, which charred more than 450,000 acres in Lake County and killed one firefighter, started in late July and was finally fully contained September 19.


“With the state’s largest recorded fire finally extinguished, we are reminded that extreme weather events will make our future challenging,” said Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller. “While the assessment’s findings are sobering, they also give us an action plan for adaptation.”


Some of the energy-related assessment reports found that rising sea levels threaten the environment, economy and urban infrastructure.


Rising coastlines could eventually submerge large areas of land and structures in the state’s densest urban centers, such as the Bay Area and the Los Angeles region. More than 300 vital structures are at risk, including schools, police stations, and hospitals. By 2100, nearly $18 billion is expected in statewide damages, or approximately 6 percent of California’s gross domestic product, according to the assessment.


Adaptation solutions exist. Funding will be vital for preventative measures, such as vegetated dunes, marsh sills, and protecting native oyster reefs.


The threat to energy infrastructure in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta was discussed in another report. Land supporting levees can move downward several centimeters per year, which is known as subsidence. Subsidence and rising sea levels may damage the levees and the nearby natural gas infrastructure.


Utilities and governments can use the information to address stress points and plan for areas where extreme-weather flooding and subsidence can affect pipelines.


The assessment’s energy-related reports are here.


Photo courtesy of California Department of Transportation.

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