Along with California's vigorous efforts to crack down on its own greenhouse gas emissions, state officials have begun preparing for the worst: heat waves, a rising sea level, flooding, wildlife die-offs and other expected consequences from what scientists predict will be a dramatic temperature increase by the end of this century.
California's Natural Resources Agency on Monday issued the nation's first statewide plan to "adapt" to climate change.
It offers strategies to cope with threats in seven sectors from firefighting to public health and water conservation. Resources Secretary Mike Chrisman called the plan an effort to acknowledge the problem and suggested that Californians "recognize their role in solving that problem and alter their behavior so that the change lasts."
The draft is "a good step in the right direction," said Gina Solomon of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an advocacy group.
"It highlights the importance of local adaptation planning, protecting vulnerable communities and the importance of public education."
But she cautioned: "These are all just words on paper without funding to carry them out.
"The federal government should help states to prepare for climate change. Spending some money now will save billions later, and these strategies save lives."
David Festa of the Washington-based Environmental Defense Fund voiced the hope that the report would "add urgency to our state's desperate water supply situation," noting that the Legislature will consider five new water-related bills when it reconvenes on Aug. 17.
In 2006, California adopted the nation's first comprehensive law to limit emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases that scientists have found to be heating the planet.
Last year, state officials laid out a detailed plan to slash the state's emissions to 1990 levels in the next 11 years. And they began to adopt regulations, including the nation's first rule to mandate low-carbon fuel.
The public may submit comments to the draft over the next 45 days (e-mail address is email@example.com.) Public hearings will be held in Sacramento on Aug. 13 and in Los Angeles on a later date.