California writes climate change report

August 4, 2009 10:29:38 AM PDT
Scientists say the effects of climate change are inevitable. Question now is how do we deal with it? California became the first state to write a report that begins to look at solutions.

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Just about anywhere around the bay, this was too nice a day to worry about climate change.

"The future is bleak. But it's always been bleak," said Abby Hatcher.

Hatcher made that observation in a place that may be underwater in 100 years -- San Francisco's Embarcadero. It's a given in a report released by the state of California, one that talks about actions instead of threats.

Will Travis of the Bay Conservation and Development Commission helped write it.

"Every dollar you put into preparation to anticipate pays off better than paying $4 or $5 later," said Travis.

The report notes that in California, climate change is not only inevitable, it has begun. The spring run-off now starts sooner, we have more hot days and fewer colder nights and the ocean levels are already seven inches higher than they were 100 years ago.

"Downtown San Francisco, SFO Airport, Oakland Airport, Silicon Valley is below sea level," said Travis. "All of these areas have to anticipate the impact and plan for them."

Around San Francisco Bay, 240 square miles of filled land could easily go under. Wetlands will disappear and statewide expect more wildfires and less water with which to fight them.

These outcomes will now happen, even if we stopped driving and turned off all the lights.

Dr. Steven Schneider of Stanford University shares a Nobel Prize with Al Gore.

"We have to adapt to what we can't prevent, and we have to adapt to what we can't adapt to," said Dr. Schneider.

For cities, counties and the state, adapting means planning, and an estimated $2 trillion of spending before the century's end. The report says there is no way around it and no need to be intimidated in a state with resources.

"It's kind of like when we realized we live in a region that is riddled with earthquake faults. We didn't move away. We figure out how to build buildings that could withstand earthquakes. We have to do the same with climate change," said Travis. Or else.

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