By Steve Scauzillo, February 12, 2014
The trickle of the San Gabriel River in the Angeles National Forest just
south of San Gabriel Dam on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014 shows the effects of
the prolonged drought.
LOS ANGELES >> Like saving for retirement or hoarding food and
water for The Big One, Californians should get ready for the effects of
global climate change, state and federal policymakers said Wednesday.
the potential changes discussed at The Autry Museum: severe weather,
droughts, floods, rising sea levels, travel delays, hotter inland
temperatures, even something as odd as the loss of the spring season.
those potential changes in the future, representatives of Gov. Jerry
Brown and President Barack Obama spoke about incorporating a climate
response plan into every level of government, from road building to
hydroelectric energy to weather forecasting.
The ongoing statewide drought may be a precursor of things to come.
droughts are cyclical, climate change adds to their intensity,
panelists said. The drought will not usher in rationing in the most
cities this year but will damage crops in the Central Valley,
California’s bread basket, said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of
Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, the largest water
wholesaler in the nation.
“We may fallow over a million acres of
land this year. That is stunning,” he said. “There are dust issues and
fire issues. Seventeen cities may have to truck in water. This is a
tough, tough year, People need to have sympathy for what is going on
outside of our area,” he said.
Meanwhile, the state dusted off a 2009 plan this week by
releasing an updated report, “Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate
Risks,” said Ann Chan, deputy secretary for climate and energy at the
California Natural Resources Agency.
The state plan lists possible
effects of climate change on water quantity and quality, declining
snowpack, loss of hydroelectric power and damage to California’s iconic
“It is pretty stark,” Chan said. “We are in a pretty significant
drought now. We are definitely trending in all directions that our
predictions have shown.”
The president’s task force on climate change will be meeting in
Los Angeles Thursday, with Mayor Eric Garcetti and Brown, to come up
with recommendations for what kind of projects deserve federal funding,
said Michael Boots, chief of staff at the White House Council on
“The evidence is clear. Climate change is
increasing the intensity of storms, heat waves and wildfires as well as
the public health impacts,” he told the audience.
has released $34 million in funding to state agencies to help farmers
and cities suffering from the effects of the prolonged drought.
Effects of climate change will worsen in the next 20 or 30 years, many scientists predict.
due to sea level rises will hit coastal areas more often and with
greater intensity, said Phyllis Grifman, director of the USC Sea Grant
program. Grifman and other scientists from USC released a study last
month to help leaders in Los Angeles prepare for oceanic effects of
Residents of Venice, Wilmington and San Pedro are
among the most vulnerable because these communities have more low-income
families and renters who are less able to make home modifications,
The city of Los Angeles must work with Los Angeles County, which
manages the beaches, to protect the L.A. shoreline. The agencies must
work together to determine how high to build berms to protect property,
New York City is measuring the banks of the Hudson and East rivers
for new sea walls, while Philadelphia is installing permeable streets to
allow stormwater to percolate into underground wells instead of
draining to the sea, Boots said.
Studies estimate a 55-inch sea
level rise when combined with a 100-year storm will cause $100 billion
in property damage along California’s coast, Chan said.
By getting government and residents prepared for the inevitable
effects of climate change, it will save the Federal Emergency Management
Agency money in the long run.
“Each dollar spent in preparing for a natural disaster is worth $4 on the back end,” Chan said.
Parfrey, executive director of Climate Resolve, an L.A.-based
environment group, advocates a grass-roots effort for conserving water
and reducing greenhouse gases. He began a “Cool Streets” program in L.A.
that adds reflectors to asphalt and was the founder of CicLAvia, a
He said the Congress and most other states besides California are
not working on preventing climate change. Even preachy messages from Al
Gore aren’t effective, he said.
“I love Al Gore and Bill
McKibben, but they are talking about polar bears,” he told the group.
“We need to make climate change relevant in people’s lives. We have to
bring it home,” Parfrey said.