Global Citizen is a community of people like you

People who want to learn about and take action on the world’s biggest challenges. Extreme poverty ends with you.

A motorists on Highway 101 watches flames from the Thomas fire leap above the roadway north of Ventura, Calif., on Dec. 6, 2017.
Noah Berger/AP
Environment

New Report Shows How Badly Climate Change Is Hurting California

Sea levels are rising along California’s coast. Forest fires are scorching Northern California, while dust storms are blanketing Southern California.

And days and nights are getting hotter across the entire state.

In recent years, California’s reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change has never been clearer. But at the same time, its status as a victim of climate change has become undeniable.

Take Action: Ensure All Communities Can Withstand Climate Disaster

Now a new report by the state’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, part of the California Environmental Protection Agency, tallies the environmental losses California has sustained.

The data points to the blistering conclusion that severe climate change has already arrived in California, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Climate change is not a conceptual or theoretical challenge. The evidence is overwhelming — universities and scientists worldwide agree — that climate change is all too real,” Matthew Rodriquez, California secretary for environmental protection, said in a statement.

“There is no time for political posturing and partisan debate,” he added. “We have to respond to this challenge now, while preparing for an uncertain future.”

Read More: Climate Change Is Making Kids Sick All Around the World

None of the data in the report is groundbreaking, but taken together, it paints an alarming portrait of a state nearing a crisis, according to the Sacramento Bee.

For example, the last four years have been the hottest on record for the state, extreme heat waves have proliferated since 1950, and night temperatures have increased by 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit over the past century.

The report notes that the five most destructive forest fires since 1950 all occured after 2006. The worst fires in recorded history happened in 2017, collectively burning more than 245,000 acres of land and destroying at least 8,500 buildings.

The five-year drought that began in 2012, meanwhile, was the most extreme in recorded history and conditioned people throughout the state to perfect their water conservation tactics.

California-Wildfires-6.jpgSmoke rises behind a leveled apartment complex as a wildfire burns in Ventura, Calif., on Dec. 5, 2017.
Image: Noah Berger/AP

San Francisco has seen a sea level rise of more than 7 inches since 1924, prompting the city to take the extraordinary measure of suing oil companies for new infrastructure.

These worsening conditions are making the state uninhabitable for more than just humans.

The report says that 75% of small mammal species and 80% of bird species have shifted their habitats as a result of climate change.

Read More: This Scientist Is Using Photography to Save Animals From Extinction

And the increasingly brutal climate is undermining the state’s economy. Over the past 10 years, the US has spent $350 billion on climate-related disasters, and a sizable chunk of that total is spent on California’s recovery from forest fires and droughts.

Despite this daunting scenario, California is doing its best to fight back.

The state is championing the Paris climate agreement, challenging environmental rollbacks by the Trump administration, and investing in renewable energy infrastructure.

“In the last two decades, we have invested billions of dollars in energy efficiency, renewable energy, demand response, energy storage, and more efficient natural gas plants,” California Public Utilities Commissioner Carla J. Peterman said in a statement.  

“Investing in greenhouse gas reductions benefits ratepayers and can be done in a manner that ensures reliability and affordability,” she added.

Global Citizen campaigns to ensure communities around the world can withstand climate change. You can take action on this issue here.