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Climate Change Risks For California

California's Climate Action Team is reviewing a report on the environmental and economic impacts of climate change in California. One part of the report looks at sea level rise. KPBS  Environment Reporter Ed Joyce tells us how that may affect San Diego County.

The report assesses the environmental and economic impacts to California from climate change.

Part of the study looks at how rising sea level would affect the coast.

Matthew Heberger is with the Pacific Institute.

He says existing seawalls or breakwaters along the coast, including San Diego's, will need to be strengthened or replaced.

Heberger says the structures won't protect against coastal flooding from a sea-level rise of slightly over 4 feet predicted by the end of the century.

Heberger says we can expect to see increased flooding in the future because seas are going to be higher. And so people who are living on the coast, living with risk right now, are going to see an increased risk.

He says even if greenhouse gas emissions are cut to zero today, a certain amount of sea-level rise is inevitable.

The full report synthesizes 40 research papers focused on the impacts to California from climate change, including the consequences of sea level rise, water shortages, wildfires, energy use and other issues.

The report says the economic impacts of climate change to California is estimated to be in the billions of dollars if no actions are taken to prepare for it.

The cost of building new or upgrading existing structures is estimated to be at least $14 billion (in year 2000 dollars).

The report concludes that given today's population, a 4-foot sea-level rise will put 480,000 people at risk of a 100-year flood event - the standard flood used for coastal planning - if no adaptation actions are taken.

The state's Climate Action Team plans to release the report for public comment later this month.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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