Governor’s Conference on Climate Risks Signals Need for Deeper Investment

Posted on Monday, January 2nd, 2012 by Jeanne Merrill

2011 was a year of extreme weather events in the United States: devastating floods along the Mississippi River, severe drought in the southwest, tornadoes and hurricanes with grave impacts.  Making the connections between a rise in extreme weather events and climate change was the focus of Governor Jerry Brown’s December conference on Extreme Climate Risks and California’s Future, held  at the Academy of Sciences in San Francisco.

The impetus for the conference was a recent report released by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), entitled Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation. Rising global temperatures, the report argues, will lead to frequent and longer periods of heat waves as well as shifts in precipitation patterns that will lead to more frequent and severe floods and droughts.  All of which will stress and strain our economies, leading to greater numbers of “climate refugees”, those displaced by extreme weather events, unless we act now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and put in place measures to adapt to a changing climate.

In our blog we’ve written extensively on the connections between rising temperatures, changing climate patterns, and the impacts on California agriculture.  At a time when climate change appears to be on the political backburner, the Governor’s conference put climate change and its real life impacts on people back in the forefront.

The President of the California Farm Bureau Federation, Paul Wenger, addressed the conference attendees about the real concerns that climate change will lead to greater water scarcity in California.  Farmers and ranchers will find their ability to produce food and fiber deeply challenged if adequate water supplies to produce their crops and livestock are not available.

The conference was an important step by Governor Brown to demonstrate his commitment to maintaining California’s work to address climate change and move us toward an economy that supports renewable energy and sustainable, healthy communities with good jobs.  But the path forward is not always clear.

California will need to invest in making the transition towards a clean, green economy possible.  We cannot avoid the worst impacts of climate change without the resources needed in our communities to reduce GHG emissions and adapt to a changing climate. That’s why CalCAN sponsored the Agriculture Climate Benefits Act, Senate Bill 237, and it’s why we will continue to make the case for AB 32 investments in our communities, now and into the future.

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