A warming atmosphere has already worsened California’s drought and harmed coastal ecosystems, but the worst is yet to come, according to the latest scientific research presented this week on the interactions of air pollution, water reserves and weather patterns.
State environmental and natural resources regulators joined with Gov. Jerry Brown’s Office of Planning and Research to present the latest statewide academic findings at the California Climate Change Symposium in Sacramento last Monday and Tuesday.
But researchers were less interested in sharing their data than in provoking political action — something they said they have failed to do because of poor communication with the general public.
Climate experts concluded that they are beginning to understand that there’s no way out of this problem. We need transformational change. We don’t need more studies as much as we need to communicate the urgency and make solid changes.
Coastal areas and forests are of particular concern now because both face grave threats to their ecosystems, as dense forests and warmer temperatures collude to create bigger fires — which are large contributors to carbon emissions, and scientists warn of coastal flooding and mass fish and water-bird extinctions.
Without action, researchers said, Californians will see greater droughts, floods, more intense storms, increasingly severe wildfires and permanent forest loss, and continually depleted groundwater reserves necessary for future drinking water supplies, among other major environmental shifts. This dire future picture comes at a time when the state is poised to accept another 11.5 million residents in the next 30 years, bringing the population to 50 million and taxing public services.
What’s more, management of water reserves across Los Angeles County is complicated, convoluted and beset by private interests creating a challenging landscape for people working to solve the problem.
The good news is that the general public is starting to understand that we can’t fix this with just a few little changes. We have to break old habits. Combating these widespread, varied impacts of climate change will require close collaboration among scientific, political and business groups.