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Climate Change Could Cost California Billions

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Aired 4/20/09

UC San Diego researchers say unless the effects of climate change are reduced, California faces a dismal economic and environmental future.  KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce has more on what's predicted in the latest assessment from the Climate Action Team.

The report analyzes several potential effects of climate change including higher temperatures and sea level rise. 

Researchers say wildfire risk will increase and lack of water will contribute to the loss of agricultural land in the Central Valley.

Dan Cayan is a climate scientist at UC San Diego's Scripps Institution of Oceanography and part of the climate action team.

He says studies now suggest that actual greenhouse gas emissions are exceeding 2006 projections.

"The danger is that because greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere and they don't quickly wash out that we have to start changing policy in the near term rather than wait until these symptoms have set upon us," Cayan said. "Because then it's, it's essentially too late."

Linda Adams is the state's Secretary for Environmental Protection.

She says delaying action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions could come at a cost of billions of dollars to the state's economy.

"Taking immediate action on climate change is essential to slow the projected rate of global warming," Adams said. "We also need to make smarter decisions in order to anticipate and adapt to the changes."

She says the report will be used to help the state plan ways to manage the potential effects of climate change.

In San Diego, researchers say that climate change will likely bring more heat waves with higher temperatures starting in June and lasting through September.

Periods of extended drought are predicted to increase the frequency and severity of wildfires in San Diego County.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

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