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Climate Change Could Whack State’s Economy

Audio

Aired 4/20/09

From agricultural losses to devastation wrought by wildfires, California's economy is expected to see significant costs resulting from global warming in the decades ahead. KPBS Environment Reporter Ed Joyce tells us about a new report put together by the state's Climate Action Team.

The report says climate change could cost the state between $2 and $15 billion dollars each year by 2050.

Property damage caused by sea level rise and more devastating wildfires could push those costs even higher.

Matthew Heberger co-authored part of the report looking at sea level rise.

He says damages to homes, businesses and public works projects, such as power plants, could cost into billions of dollars.

"Even if we reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to zero today, we still have a certain amount of sea-level rise that's going to happen," he said.

He says existing barriers won't protect against coastal flooding if sea level rises over 4 feet, as predicted by the end of the century.

Coming up with solutions to handle sea level rise is just one part of the report.

Tony Brunello works on climate change and energy for the state Natural Resources Agency.

Brunello says the decreased precipitation, higher sea level rise, the increase in temperature are all of those things will still be with us for the next 50 to 100 years.

Brunello is using the report to plan for the future.

"Doing nothing is not an option, he said.

"For the state, it's incumbent upon us, if we are making investments in new reservoirs or in new freeways that will definitely last the next 50 to 100 years, that we should be taking into consideration things such as sea level rise in those planning decisions."

The state's climate action team is made up of representatives from 16 state agencies, boards and departments.  

The group is charged with developing strategies to cope with climate change.

The report will be released for public comment later this month.

Ed Joyce, KPBS News.

 

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