Author: Eric

Climate Change and the California Coast

Climate Change and the California Coast

As California droughts intensify, ecosystems and rural communities will bear the brunt of their fury, as the state’s water problems become more acute, climate change-fueled, and the people become more impoverished.

A new report, “Ecosystem Impacts,” by the Southern California Consortium (SCC), an advisory group supported by the U.S. Department of Energy, offers a glimpse of what communities along the state’s southern and central coast have become. The first of its kind, the report warns that climate change-induced drought will likely be the most significant threat to the state’s coastal ecosystems in coming decades. Yet it also suggests that California’s coastal communities can be the drivers of change, by engaging in programs and policies that enable their own resilience to the changing environments they are a part of.

The report, an early effort of its kind, looks at how communities along the southern and central coast might respond to the state’s long-term drought. “Ecosystem impacts” are more than climate change and the impacts of future drought, the report notes. It also notes that the ecosystem impacts of water management problems will differ by community.

California’s state-mandated coastal management programs are designed to protect water for future generations. Those programs provide services and protections from development in coastal areas, but they also protect and restore ecosystems for current and future generations.

But the state’s coastal programs have not been effective at achieving those goals. Most of the state’s coastal management programs are not being properly implemented and are in danger of being inadequately funded, according to the analysis by the SCC, which included a poll of more than 200 coastal residents across California.

The report concludes that the state’s coastal management plans for California’s coast, while perhaps well-intended, have failed to adequately incorporate the realities and consequences of climate change on the coast.

“Droughts are going to continue to get more severe and be a bigger threat to the state of California,” said Mark Brownstein, a senior water engineer with the U.S. Geological Survey

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