SF Chronicle story noted: "The combined impact described by the indicators is dramatic," said Matthew Rodriquez, California's secretary for environmental protection, whose agency specialists prepared the report.
"The science is clear that we're already seeing significant changes in every part of the state," he said Wednesday. "If you look at these indicators, you can't really debate that climate change, and its impact, is here."
The quantified impacts include sea level rise, temperature variation, movement of tree, plant and animal species to higher elevations, fires, decline in salmon, increased sea lion pup mortality and other species disruptions. Many of the changes can be traced back a half century, and many are accelerating in recent years. For instance (acc. to the Chronicle) The annual average acres burned by California wildfires in the dozen years since 2000 (598,000 acres) is more than double the acreage burned in the 50 years between 1950 and 2000 (264,000 acres).
California newspapers gave the story positive play. A subsequent editorial in the San Jose Mercury News said: "Climate change is not just some abstract scientific debate," California EPA Secretary Matt Rodriquez told the Mercury News' Paul Rogers. "It's real, and it's already here." Californians understand the seriousness of the threat. In a poll last week from the Public Policy Institute of California, 79 percent of respondents said they support even bolder action from the state, which is already at the forefront. As in so many other matters, Californians can lead the rest of the nation with this. The cost will be high, but the cost of inaction will be higher."
The LA Times story included: "These environmental indicators are leaning very dominantly in a single direction that is consistent with the early phases of climate change," said Dan Cayan, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the U.S. Geological Survey who contributed to the report. "It’s not something that's 100 years away; it's already starting to play out."
An Associated Press story published in the Washington Post, Boston Globe and elsewhere said this: Officials hope it will spur the state and local governments to plan ahead and adapt to a hotter future. Monitoring should continue ‘‘to reduce the impacts of climate change and to prepare for those effects that we cannot avoid,’’ George Alexeeff, head of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, said in an e-mail.
I've written about the climate crisis for a long time, on this blog and elsewhere. At first my intent was to spread the word, especially about the urgency of addressing it before we started feeling serious effects that were for all intents and purposes permanent. That ship has sailed, as this report and other indicators over the past several years prove.
My second purpose in recent years was to promote the notion that we now must deal with two crises, or two aspects of the climate crisis. We must address the causes of global heating--primarily greenhouse gases--in order to save the farther future from catastrophic change that will end life on earth as we know it. At the same time, we must address the effects of the global heating and greenhouse gas pollution that has already occurred--effects which can't be stopped, and which will build and will be with us for a long time.
Now, when I hear an official like George Alexeeff quoted above make that second point as a matter of policy guidance, then it is becoming conventional wisdom. That's good.
But I'm not sure what purpose it serves for me to continue to write about the climate crisis anymore. The effects are going to be cataloged, and some of them will be somewhat surprising (like the yo-yo effect of carbon in the atmosphere reported Thurs.) More warnings on continued carbon pollution will be made. More storms, heat waves etc. will be attributed to the climate crisis, along with the denialists denying it (led by--no surprise, but now quantified,-- Fox News.) More international conferences will grapple with what to do. More progress will be made on clean energy, and more money from fossils who own fossil fuel companies will fuel denial.
It's now largely in the hands of policy makers, a great many of them on the state, regional and local levels. Also corporations seeing opportunities, or realizing that their asses are in the fire, regardless of how lovely things are for monstrous oil companies. If I think I can contribute anything new, then sure. But in my limited time I wonder if this is the best use of it.
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