Climate change is already affecting California. Sea levels have risen by as much as seven inches along the California coast over the last century, increasing erosion and pressure on the state’s infrastructure, water supplies, and natural resources. The state has also seen increased average temperatures, more extreme hot days, fewer cold nights, a lengthening of the growing season, shifts in the water cycle with less winter precipitation falling as snow, and both snowmelt and rainwater running off sooner in the year.
These climate driven changes affect resources critical to the health and prosperity of California. For example, forest wildland fires are becoming more frequent and intense due to dry seasons that start earlier and end later. The state’s water supply, already stressed under current demands and expected population growth, will shrink under even the most conservative climate change scenario. Almost half a million Californians, many without the means to adjust to expected impacts, will be at risk from sea level rise along bay and coastal areas.
California’s infrastructure is already stressed and will face additional burdens from climate risks. And as the Central Valley becomes more urbanized, more people will be at risk from intense heat waves.