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Climate Threats and What They Mean for California Take National Stage



California and its work to evaluate climate threats and prepare for the future took center stage at a national science conference.

California Energy Commission Chair Robert B. Weisenmiller spoke at the National Academy of Sciences forum that explored climate assessments from California and other subnational governments. The forum was held August 14 to 15 in Washington, D.C.

“California is growing its economy and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but it needs to work with allies around the world to prepare for climate change impacts,” he said.

Nine of the state’s 10 worst fires have happened in the past two years and in 2017 more structures were destroyed by fire than in all the wildfires between 2000 and 2016. Yet, fire is not the only climate threat, he said.

“We can expect more frequent extreme weather with swings from heavy rain to heat storms to prolonged drought,” Weisenmiller said.

He highlighted a climate monitoring tool called www.Cal-Adapt.org. The tool predicts extreme heat days will quadruple in Sacramento by the end of the century compared to today.

The academy’s focus on California is well timed. The state has prepared its Fourth Climate Change Assessment. The assessment is a series of reports that will provide new science and planning tools to ready the state for climate change. Key threats addressed include wildfires, sea-level rise, extreme heat, heavy rains and droughts, and damage to levees.

“There’s no time to wait on climate change,” Weisenmiller said. “The time to act is now.”

More than 50 reports are part of the assessment, which is scheduled for an August 27 release. The reports will be available at www.climateassessment.ca.gov.

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The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency created by the Legislature in 1974.
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