I vow to vote for any politician who respects the conclusions of every scientific organization in the world, NASA, NOAA, dozens of Nobel Laureates and rejects the half-truths and lies of fossil fuel funded Stink Tanks. Or, their loyal fossil fools.
Photograph by Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP
Published August 12, 2014
SACRAMENTO, California—Hints of a changing climate can be found all over central California.
In the western Sierra Nevadas, the air is filled with smoke and haze from wildfires. In the Central Valley south of Sacramento, dust whips across fallow fields, thanks to lack of rain and a record drought. Near the coast, people worry about bigger storms.
"Scientific predictions say that with global warming, we'll see more variability in California's climate, with more intense storms, longer dry periods, and less snowpack," hydrogeologist and geology department chair Tim Horner said from his office at California State University, Sacramento.
All this means climate change is going to force the state to "make some really tough decisions" over the coming years, Horner said.
Golden State officials will have to figure out how to protect the state's long coastline, keep a vast agricultural industry going, apportion dwindling water resources, drive smart development, and keep 38 million residents safe, all while dealing with a financial crisis.
Here are some of the key issues California will soon have to grapple with due to climate change:
1. Drought and Wildfires
Some 75 percent to 80 percent of California's freshwater comes from the Sierra Nevada snowpack, a resource that has dwindled in recent years and is threatened by future climate change, Frank Gehrke, who serves as the chief of snow surveys for California's Department of Water Resources, explained from a granite dome in Yosemite. In February, the Sierra snowpack was only 14 percent of normal.
"Regardless of what happens with climate change, even in a good year we don't have enough water," Gehrke said as he viewed the tiny pockets of ice left at the top of the national park.
Climate scientists predict the region will get even hotter and drier. And as more of the state's precipitation falls as rain instead of snow in the mountains, it will run off the land more quickly, ending up in the ocean. In the short term, farmers and cities will increasingly turn to reservoirs and groundwater, Gehrke said, but how long will that last? As it stands, California has only about a year and a half's supply saved behind dams, and groundwater tables have been dropping precipitously.
2. Coastal Danger
The majority of Californians live along the coast, where they enjoy the storied beaches and bask in the mild climate created by ocean currents and winds. But climate change means increasing risks, Horner warns.
According to the White House's National Climate Assessment released in May, the number of Californians exposed to risk from a hundred-year flood could rise from the current 260,000 to 480,000 by 2100, owing to a projected sea-level rise of 4.6 feet (1.4 meters). Many of those people have "high social vulnerability," meaning they are ill prepared to deal with losses, especially those who live slightly inland but adjacent to the coast. (See "Federal Climate Change Report Highlights Risks to Americans.")
Already, the sea level in California has risen approximately 7 inches (18 centimeters) from 1900 to 2005, reports the National Climate Assessment. Storms are expected to get more severe, with increased risk of flooding. Saltwater is also expected to intrude into fresh aquifers as the sea rises, contaminating precious groundwater.
The National Climate Assessment warned that the San Francisco Bay and San Joaquin/Sacramento River Delta "are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise and changes in salinity, temperature, and runoff; endangering one of the ecological 'jewels' of the West Coast, growing development, and crucial water infrastructure."
3. Bad Air Days
California already has the toughest air quality standards in the country, but much of the state still suffers from pollution. According to the most recent "State of the Air" report from the American Lung Association (ALA), six of the top seven regions with the worst ozone pollution are in California. Los Angeles ranks at the top, followed by much of the Central Valley.
On a recent visit, it wasn't hard to see why. The sky was filled with haze from vehicle exhaust and dust from farm fields. According to the ALA, the top five regions for year-round and short-term particle pollution are in Los Angeles and the Central Valley.
Both of those factors are likely to get worse with climate change, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) warns in a recent report. Warmer weather tends to make more smog, and drier conditions tend to create more dust.
4. Spreading Disease
Increasing dust also promotes the spread of valley fever, a potentially fatal disease that affects about 150,000 people a year. It is caused by inhaling the microscopic spores of Coccidioides immitis, a soil-dwelling fungus. Valley fever is especially prevalent in the dusty Central Valley, where it affects more than 10 people out of 100,000.
The NRDC also warns that warmer weather could boost the spread of West Nile virus, which has killed two people in California this summer. Higher temperatures can also increase rates of foodborne and algae-borne disease.
5. Loss of Native Fish
California once supported vibrant commercial and recreational fisheries, but the fish have long been in decline. According to Horner, native species like salmon, steelhead, and trout are now outnumbered by nonnative species like carp.
"A lot of the native fish in California are coldwater fish, so as the waters get warmer, they're not going to do as well," said Horner, who leads stream restoration projects around the state.
In fact, researchers at the University of California, Davis, found in 2013 that, of the state's 121 native fish species, 82 percent are likely to be driven to extinction, or close to it, by climate change.
To try to cool the rivers and keep the native fish alive, the state has been releasing water from dams. But that's unpopular with farmers, and works only as long as there is water to release.
Do any of you so-called scientific geniuses realize that the fact that we have had several ice ages, means the earth has globally warmed several times already without the help of mankind. get a grip.
so who's fault was it when california had a drought in the early nineteen hundreds? You know before people had a lot cars? How about in the 1300's or before that. what about then?
I think that we just just go back to having horses and buggies because then there wouldn't be pollution from oil spills and car exhaust in the air. Why can't we just live a simpler life like they did in the olden days??? I wish!
We need to put emphasis on our freshwater and coastal systems. These are both vital necessities for environmental, wildlife, and human survival and health. When these systems become poor in quality health can suffer. From doing a small part every day or a large project a change for conservation can be made. Start a small project here and make a difference to improve the health of these vital systems https://creeklife.com/! Also check out the article on the EPA's Climate Change Vulnerability assessment: https://creeklife.com/blog/climate-change-and-the-vulnerability-to-our-drinking-water
Dont pretend you have everything in the States. Respect the Climate , Respect the need of other humans in the world. I hope Ruwanmalee will make a difference in California.
I think we have to accept the change of climate!What is needed now is to find ways to coexist with this change!
I see the trolls employed by the oil/gas companies and farming industry are out in full force to ensure their absurd propaganda is spread as often and as many times over the internet as possible - especially on any article related to science, aka reality. The only thing I find comforting with people who can be so dangerously nonsensical is the fact that they're usually in the very small minority. The thing I'm not comfortable with is these bogus ideas and archaic ideology is supported by a lot of money (corporate america) and politicians whose only interests are their profits and assets. We can all argue over and over and over and over until we all pass from dehydration, air poisoning, and sharknados, or we can finally have the guts, as a species, to attack the REAL problem - overpopulation. Just as one scientist said about water resources in California, even if climate change wasn't occurring, we still wouldn't have enough water for everyone. Will the human race have the guts to limit procreation? Or will Mother Nature be forced to do it herself in a very, very scary and painful way.
Most of you tend to have a great perspective. However, one of you sounds pure evil but we all can examine to find out who that person is, but I get the point. Yet anyone who thinks that we are safe from the effects of the earth functioning habits have been taught by fools, or was simply born a fool. Not to sound harsh but a critical topic takes critical assessments because we need to have a voice in this matter. However, we must open our mouth with sense and global understanding of the earth. I am currently in california, the air is terrible and the mountains are so dry, that when it does rain, it dries at a rapid speed but the soil becomes weaker. That itself could be the foundation of a land that could one day become part of the pacific ocean. Migration will be necessary and that goes for east coast Americans as well. @Carol Gibboney Has a point.
The length of cold temperature across the nation has increased. We recently had a cold front sweep through the nation in July. Last time I checked, we are closing in on summer but this was not a normal summer. Those tornadoes that @Jeffrey S. mentioned, will certainly get worse. I read a report just the other day that more than 130 tornadoes occurred 10-15 years ago, on a yearly average but now we are having less than 80 per year. Sounds safe but they have become more bigger, faster and more powerful. I swear, whenever I see the updates around the world. It brings me right back to a movie we have all seen. Take a great guess... The day after tomorrow. Might not be as bad but it's tough to argue that we are not in serious trouble.
When did the earth begin farting or why is it farting more? Those 3 craters that were found in Syberia, could be natural but if it is natural then it will explain all the sinkholes across the world. Climate change is going to happen whether we like it or not. The earth is in control and we as humans have forgot our roles and refuse to carry on great behavior to sustain the health of our planet. We are not only killing ourselves, we are killing our planet and it has reacted in a natural manner. Vision2xtreme
Earth has been warming for 10,000 years
Another doom and gloom climate change article. How come NG never publishes an article about those who win with climate change. Oh wait, guess we would never see that, for someone to benefit from climate change, it would not jive with NG's political agenda.
@Jan Freed Good day. You are absolutely correct, the, "Politicians" on both sides of the table need to wake up. Evidently the only way they will do so is if the public, through their vote, makes it clear we need to address this issue, based on merit alone, without influence of the, "Corporate" special interest and start taking some action.Whether you accept the findings of the majority, or not, it is a topic that needs to be addressed. With all the campaigning and Political nonsense that goes with it, the finger pointing and alike, how often do you hear them talk about this real issue? At best it is a small sub-note, a by the way.We should insist that it is dealt with, one way or another, once and for all. Move to action, or move on, but deal with it. Once the cards are on the table, I think there is little doubt we'd move to action, but the Politicians won't even deal the cards.
@Kiara Ashanti Good point. Nothing is certain at this point. For example, the decline in Arctic sea ice could be caused by CO2-induced global warming, but it could just as well be caused by natural warming, or by changes in ocean or atmospheric circulation, winds, precipitation, albedo, or other factors, many of which can and do change naturally and independently of the air’s CO2 content. (Idso, PhD)
@Kiara Ashanti And the doctor says to the smoker, "Hey, go for it, John, light it up, people have been dying from lung cancer long before there were cigarettes" Or the detective says over a recent homicide, "Officer, people have been murdered for centuries".
@Kiara Ashanti There is no shame in not knowing, just in not knowing what you are talking about as if you do. You do not know what you are talking about. I say this as a general reference to all your comments and the implications found within.
@Kiara Ashanti I agree with Kiara, actually. California historically had many droughts, including ones that lasted for more than 100 years and it was way before any industrial revolution and human contribution to CO2 rise.
@Kiara Ashanti Different cause, different circumstance, different consequences. Rapidly becoming, if not there already, the worst and most widespread in recorded history, do you not research anything you have to say?
@Grace Torgerson Don't let anybody other than your parents, your teachers and those you know and trust influence your dreams of a better tomorrow.
You and your whole family be well and go out and catch a big one.
@Grace Torgerson that would be nice. go back to the olden days when the life expectancy was 45 yrs old.
@Eric Paul LOL really Eric. There were droughts long before there were cars, grocery stores, oil and gas, or foolish scientists that cant prove anything outside computer models.
@Eric Paul From an ideological point of view there is some truth in what you state. Unfortunately the World doesn't work on ideologies. Curbing the population doesn't directly address the issue of Climate change, it's more of a reaction to the problems climate change presents.
Then there is the practical side of how to bring about the reduction of procreation, who is going to set the standards, how will it be enforced? Also, as Matthew M. points out there is the issue of basic human rights. Although I am of a mind that there is an argument to be made that sometimes one has got to give up their individual rights, for the good of all, the matter of family is about a basic of an individual right that there is.
You mention, "bogus ideas and archaic ideology", just out of curiosity and not implying anything, may I ask more specifically what you speak of? You look like a relatively young Buck and I'm curious as to what the younger generation thinks.
Just a word about us, "Older folk", we were in your shoes once, full of hope and promise for a better tomorrow and what we were going to do about it. Some things we accomplished, some we did not. It wasn't for lack of trying.
"TRUST ME", when you are younger things appear to be Black or White, as you get older it becomes apparent life is made up by varying shades of grey.There are things that the, "Establishment" can learn from youth, fresh thinking is always a good thing, but don't lose sight of the fact, that in life, there is no substitute for, "experience". Before you know it, you will be the, "Establishment" and find that life is about compromise and many times comes down to picking the leaser of two evils.
I hope I am not coming off as being condescending, absolutely not meant to be. The fact of the matter is the future belongs to you and I have every confidence, just as with all succeeding generations, you will be smarter and somewhat wiser than the generation that preceded you.
@Eric Paul I think that the problem of overpopulation will gradually work itself out. After all, in more developed nations, the birth rate is already below replacement level. We'll probably max out at 9 billion people around mid century before gradually declining to a more reasonable number. Plus, laws against having kids would be a pretty serious breach of human rights, and could set a very dangerous precedent. Ultimately, the human population will increase, so we need to do all we can to limit its impacts (climate change, pollution, etc.) Even for a "pro business" person, climate change is bad. Perhaps switching to renewable energy will be bad for oil companies, but compare it to the impacts from the flooding of, say, New York, or Miami.
@Mohamnad Lee and yet when you look at the science of real results and not computer models we find the following. Tornados are down, not up. Their intensity is no stronger than ones that can be found in the past. Hurricanes are...down not up with intensity no stronger than many in the past. People you are looking for events to prove your theory instead of looking at events to provide you a theory. The truth is the earth is so large that the idea that man can affect it all by itself in the manner described is nonsense. its hubris no different than when other scientists of another era told us the universe revolved around us. :/ The sun is in a high cycle of activity. more sunspots. that means its hotter. the sun gets hotter, we get hotter. no oil, no gas, no CO2 nonsense. its the sun. when it calms down and goes back into its cycle of lower radiation output and less sunspot activity, it will be less hot and the earth will be less hot. this is pretty common sense. But hey maybe scientists are sooo smart they need a complicated reason for everything.
@Winton Schoneman Although not one who puts much stock in a single report and in the case of, "Global warming and Climate change" there is so much data available much of it conflicting, one can only look to the preponderance of evidence which speaks for itself.
So here is a link to a site which gives a bit of history on the current Global warming timeline, the effects of increased CO2, and man's influence;
@Carter Fox Jr. Mr. Fox, agree with the point, but in reality it seems it can.
@Justin Smith I believe that ultimately no one wins with climate change, if you can give me an example of someone winning than maybe
i will reconsider my opinion.
@Justin Smith Why don't you suggest and provide statistics proving there are places where climate change will be beneficial? We who live in PA and have plenty of water, cool weather are really afraid the climate deniers and the hoards from California will come here. Mass migration of people from the coasts inland is really not going to be beneficial to those of us in more benign areas.
I wonder if you consider the impact the huge numbers of people now living on earth on dwindling national resources and how climate change is exacerbating that?
So, let's hear the joy and recommendations how those souls in LA etc can move and not disrupt the rest of the states. Surely they cannot stay where there is NO water.
@Justin Smith - The rapid pace of global warming, and ocean acidification, is a form of ecological disruption. When ecosystems are disturbed by rapid change, most of the species that have adapted over long periods of time are adversely affected; the "winners" are the exception, not the rule. There may be those lucky few who, on balance, benefit from global warming. I would be very interested in any evidence you may have that they won't be vastly outnumbered by the many who, on balance, will be harmed by global warming.
@Masha Klachko-Blair @Kiara Ashanti Science has not been able to find a, "Natural" cause for the warming we are experiencing this time around. The evidence of Man's influence is getting difficult to deny. Oceanic and atmospherical shifts happen because of changes and this time it is becoming quite clear that the Greenhouse gases we are pumping into the atmosphere, at an alarmingly increasing rate, are the MOST LIKELY culprits and the science and physics backs that up.
If we do not start taking some serious measures to reduce our CO2 output and if in fact that is the problem, before we know it, it will be too late, (maybe already) and we will leave our Heirs to deal with some pretty serious consequences. Strikes me and many others that a better safe than sorry approach is the prudent course of action.
Regardless it is a good idea to curb our emissions as much as possible, our environment is a pretty delicate balance as evidenced by how long it took to develop before it would support life, we are messing with that balance and that is something no one can deny, or should I say, can prove otherwise.
@Masha Klachko-Blair @Kiara Ashanti Question is when, why and what other differences were present at that time in the atmosphere and the environment. Sure these types of changes and conditions have occurred throughout History, the question is why this time around. Also this is the worst and most widespread drought in that area in recorded history and modern times.
How about the other "extreme weather" that is occurring around the world. It's not just California. Put it together with the other indicators, E.G. Several species fighting extinction due to changing habitat. Several months this year, on a Worldwide average, are the warmest recorded and the fact that these changes are occurring at an accelerated rate,which other than cataclysmic events, such as massive Volcanic activity or asteroid(s) hit(s), is unprecedented.
I do not think that one can argue anymore against the fact that there are changes taking place, so the question is, "Why". By far the most reasonable explanation, the one that seems to be most plausible, is the influence Man is having, primary through the burning of Fossils fuels. There are other factors involved, such as deforestation,yet another man made contributor, there are others.
You observe that this could be all brought on by a, "Natural" order, which is true, it could be. So I ask, which scientifically observed, "Natural" mechanism do you suggest it is? I have yet to hear one that isn't far fetched and/or a stretch.
@Masha Klachko-Blair Is it really necessary to affirm the disillusionment of a child, whether it be true or not? Maybe you want to state there is no, Santa Claus or Easter Bunny as well. Take away the innocence of youth, this I do not get at all. She'll have to deal with the reality of what is being left to her generation soon enough!
@Kiara Ashanti @Grace Torgerson What is wrong with you, do you see the picture, (apparently not, in more ways than one) of a Father with his daughter?She makes more sense than you do. Disillusion a child in order to boost your own self worth, that's admirable and speaks volumes as to your character. Apparently you need to convince yourself that you are smarter than an adolescent, NOT.
@Kiara Ashanti @Eric Paul And just how do you think a computer model is generated? Collected data, empirical observation, accepted theoretical calculations, physical laws are used to create the algorithms. The computer model puts it all together, as a matter of convenience and a way to visualize, confirm findings and check hypothesis. You imply it's just a Nintendo game with no applicable purpose or scientific value, again you have at best a very limited understanding, but more than likely no understanding.
@Matthew M. Meh..scientists have been predicting overpopulation for like decades. probably for tens of decades. aint happen yet scientists that know all.........
@Kiara Ashanti @Mohamnad Lee Again, just absolutely no understanding what so ever; "People are looking for events to provide your Theory instead of looking for events to provide you a Theory", that's about as ludicrous as it gets. Where do you think, "Theories" come from, under a rock? No, Man comes up with theory based primarily on observation and known physical laws and then seeks to prove or disprove. Once proven it is accepted as Law. You have got it completely bass akwards.
Example of analytical science;
-Hypothesis; You are clueless-Theory; you are a fountain of misinformation -Proof; your comments-Law; Don't listen to a word you have to say.
@Kiara Ashanti @Mohamnad Lee "When you look at the science and real results............." ? You are correct, YOU should look at the science which is something you obviously haven't done or do not understand."We find the following"? Just who the heck is we, me myself and I?
@Kiara Ashanti @Mohamnad Lee Approximately 40% greater concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere than pre industrial age.Mostly attributable to the burning of fossil fuels. Not to mention the deforestation that reduces the ability for the environment to handle the CO2 even further. It is a KNOWN scientific FACT that C02 is among the primary greenhouse gases that heavily influence the regulation of the Earth's temperature. It's obvious that when you call proven science nonsense and rely on what you call common sense, you seem to have no common sense or understanding at all.
@Kiara Ashanti @Mohamnad Lee Did you miss the Cat 5 Cyclones in the Pacific Have you calculated the 500 gigatons of CO2 into you model So the leadership of the EU, Sweden, Denmark, UK China and US who are implementing climate legislation got it wrong are you want us to side with you Sorry as well the intention of the evil corporations that have killed millions with their lies about alcohol, sugar, tobacco, salt, trans fats, pharma drugs Tell us about the values corporations are using when they built fleets of hummers in response to smog and responsible oil management, Any one looking to be seen credible and potential employees should not follow Hohamnad Lee's advice Can you Tell us what you know about ocean acidification
@Gwendolyn Mugliston @Justin Smith Hi Ms.Mugliston, unfortunately with the direction the "Climate" seems to be taking in another 10-20 years the East coast may not be the most hospitable place to be.
What is taking place out West may be just the prelude of things to come.We on the East coast may not be seeing a draught, but other severe conditions may be on the horizon. One example is Sandy, which may have been a fluke, but then again maybe just a preview. Another is the tornado activity we've been experiencing as of late, (past 10-15 yrs. or so).Then there is the possibility of getting too much rain, seems to me the flooding of areas in our neck of the woods is happening on a much more regular basis.
Mother Nature has all kinds of ways to kick us in the butt, maybe she's trying to tell us something.What perplexes me is why so many people just don't seem to see the writing on the wall. There are so many things we could be doing to take a proactive approach, that regardless of one's views on the, "Global warming" debate would seem to make sense, like reducing the pollution we are introducing into the atmosphere. The technologies are out there, it's a matter of mindset and unfortunately the almighty $ and yes, a bit of sacrifice in all our lifestyles. Strikes me as a bit of sacrifice now, just for the sake of being prudent, is the more logical choice than leaving our heirs with the possibility of greater sacrifice and hardship that maybe yet to come.
@Kiara Ashanti @Matthew M. Tens of decades, 10 X 10=100=a century. Just thought I'd point that out in case you didn't know.That's simple math, or do you have a problem with that as well.
@Kiara Ashanti @Jeffrey S. @Winton Schoneman Wrong, there is measurable physical evidence showing the increases of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. So, you put no faith in science. No argument that climate change is cyclical. For the most part scientists have been able to identify the cause of such through natural orders, UNTIL NOW. To say that there is no empirical evidence, then obviously you do not know the meaning of the word or you have your eyes wide shut.The, "empirical" evidence is staring you in the face.I guess all the experts who have advanced degrees in the science and the physics that go along with it know less than you do.Regarding predictions not coming true, all the predictions that have been made with regards to the effects of Global warming and the subsequent Climate change, e.g. changing geography, shift in weather patterns, "severe" weather conditions, (have you heard of the drought out West, did you hear of Sandy), what about the Tornadoes in the Northeast that 20 years ago were virtually unheard of, not to mention the extraordinary flooding on a regular basis in the NE as well, whole species dwindling to extinction due to their changing environment, the melting of snow packs and icecaps,the list goes on, ALL, "Coming true". That's only in this country, it's happening around the world, what more, "Empirical" evidence do you need. Eyes wide shut, making unsubstantiated claims without having even a basic understanding of the science involved or evidently how the process of analytical science works. Don't worry about it, those who understand these things will worry about it for you. In the meantime keep making your erroneous empirical observations.
@Kiara Ashanti @Sam Lu @Justin Smith As with the rest of your comments, no pertinence to today's situation. And since you state that the extinction of dinosaurs came through climate change, that means you must be relying on scientific data of some sort to make this claim, (or did you just look into your crystal ball). If not then it seems to me you pick and chose from science as you see fit. Science has the same value whether it coincides with your opinion or not, make up your mind.By the way, the Dinosaur IS dead, so no current help on that one, ridiculous and impertinent..
@Jeffrey S. lololololol wait I thought based on global warming God Al GOre the coasts were all gonna be gone, the polar bear extinct, and dozens of monster storms raging about. and not one of these things have come true. Nada, nay, nix. nuttin. How bout this. Climate change has always happened and that there are some things man is not the cause of nor in control of.
Feed the World
How do we feed nine billion people by 2050, and how do we do so sustainably?
We've made our magazine's best stories about the future of food available in a free iPad app.
Latest From Nat Geo
These cooing Casanovas use showstopping plumage to court females and fend off rivals.
Meet a trapper who keeps Florida's streets, sewers, and Kennedy Space Center alligator free.