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article imageCalifornia's latest climate assessment 'profoundly serious'

By Karen Graham     Aug 28, 2018 in Environment
Sacramento - California's Fourth Climate Change Assessment was released Monday. The tome contains 44 technical reports and 13 summary reports that clearly show what will soon be the new normal if nothing is done to stop climate change
California's deadly wildfires and dangerous heatwaves will soon enough become the "new normal," while periods of extreme heat will lead to two to three times the number of deaths by 2050, the report says.
Without the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, by 2100, the state could see a 77 percent increase in the average area burned by wildfires and up to 67 percent of the state's coastline hit with erosion. It is also forecast that temperatures will rise an average of 8.8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.9 degrees Celsius). The damages will be in the billions of dollars.
California Governor Jerry Brown said, "In California, facts and science still matter. These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change."
California's Climate Assessment
For those who don't know, California is the world's fifth largest economy, according to data released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The state's 2017 Gross State Product was $2.747 trillion, surpassing the United Kingdom's $2.625 trillion Gross Domestic Product.
The state has completed three prior Climate Change Assessments. The first California Climate Change Assessment (First Assessment), completed in 2006, began the work of trying to “downscale” global climate models in order to provide information about expected climate impacts at a regionally-relevant scale.
And this was a sensible way to look at the impacts of climate change because they will not be the same across the world. So it was necessary to scale-down the data so that it would be relevant to the western United States, the state of California, subregions, and communities in California in order to develop local, state and regional climate policies and solutions.
Kambryn Brilz  12  holds her dog Zoe in front of what remains of her burnt home in Redding  Californ...
Kambryn Brilz, 12, holds her dog Zoe in front of what remains of her burnt home in Redding, California
And as part of the state's assessments, a number of web-based climate tools have been developed that allow a user to identify potential climate change risks in specific geographic areas throughout the state. Users can either query by location, or click on an interactive map to explore what climate impacts are projected to occur in their area of interest.
Specific areas of climate change impact
Human lives lost is at the top of the list in the new report. “The 2006 heatwave killed over 600 people, resulted in 16,000 emergency department visits, and led to nearly $5.4bn in damages,” the assessment reports.
“The human cost of these events is already immense, but research suggests that mortality risk for those 65 or older could increase tenfold by the 2090s because of climate change.”
A woman pushes her walker past tents housing the homeless in Los Angeles  California on February 9  ...
A woman pushes her walker past tents housing the homeless in Los Angeles, California on February 9, 2016
Frederic J. Brown, AFP
The California Energy Commission was one of three agencies that published this year's report. California energy commission chairman, Robert Weisenmiller, said: “It really forces you to think through what do we do about the more elderly – the more endangered. How do we protect them during these intense heat periods?”
Heat and prolonged heatwaves not only result in the need for air conditioning, fans or other heat-mitigating devices, but more electricity is used, and that will end up driving emissions higher. Added to this is the double threat of wildfires and this all together can endanger the power grid.
So, it is important that the data, from the number of people living on the streets to the number of elderly and disables living in a community be known. The “apocalyptic threat” the governor described could manifest itself in any number of ways, said Amir AghaKouchak, an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a researcher who contributed to the assessment.
AghaKouchak says overall rainfall would probably remain about the same, but it would come in the form of extreme storms followed by longer periods without rain, something western states are already experiencing. “There will be two consequences: one is more potentially extreme floods, and the other is problems with drought management.”
A dead tree is seen on a dried part of the shoreline near Red Hill Marina at the Salton Sea  Califor...
A dead tree is seen on a dried part of the shoreline near Red Hill Marina at the Salton Sea, California on March 19, 2015
Mark Ralston, AFP/File
Francesca Hopkins is an assistant professor of climate change and sustainability in The University of California Redding's Department of Environmental Sciences. and a lead author of UCR's contributing Regional Report included in the Climate Assessment.
Hopkins notes that extreme temperatures will impact public health and the eco my, particularly the agriculture and tourism sectors. She believes the future of environmental quality in the region is dependent on the fate of the Salton Sea.
The saline lake is already shrinking and posing a public health hazard due to dust emissions that affect residents of the Imperial Valley. As Digital Journal reported in 2014, the Salton Sea was an engineering accident, and now could be one of man's biggest ecological disasters.
NASA s snapshot of the world on fire. 
Nothing summarizes the current state of the world s fires mu...
NASA's snapshot of the world on fire. Nothing summarizes the current state of the world's fires much like NASA's snapshot of Earth's aerosols.
Wildfires are in a league of their own
Not only will the average area burned by wildfires grow by 77 percent, but the frequency of "extreme wildfires," those burning more than 25,000 acres, will increase by 50 percent under "business as usual" climate conditions, according to the assessment.
Unbelievable, the assessment came out even as two of the largest wildfires in state history, the Mendocino Complex fire and Carr fire continue to burn. The Mendocino fire has already burned 422,000 acres, an area larger than the city of Los Angeles.
"Increases in wildfires and severe weather events in recent years are beginning to match what climate scientists previously predicted," said Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at UCLA. "We have now, in California and elsewhere, reached the point where these changes are now detectable," he said. And they're continuing to worsen, reports Inside Climate News.
More about California, climate change assessment, Apocalyptic threat, 5th largest ecoomy, 44 technical reports
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