Adapting to climate change in California

By F. W. Davis, E. A. Chornesky, September 1, 2014

Many aspects of the Californian approach to controlling the greenhouse gases that cause climate change now have a sufficient track record to provide potential models or lessons for national and even international action. In comparison, the state’s efforts on climate change adaptation, although multifaceted, are less well developed and thus far have focused largely on information sharing, impact assessments, and planning. Still, adaptation could advance more quickly in California than in many other regions, given relatively high public awareness and concern, extensive scientific information, a strong tradition of local and regional planning, and some enabling policies and institutions. Much more political support and sufficient financing will have to be mustered at state and local levels to enable new projects and initiatives to cope with sea level rise, water management, and ecosystem adaptation, not to mention public health and other key areas of concern. Even so, California’s initial efforts to adapt to unavoidable changes in climate may offer insights for other governments that will, inevitably, need to fashion their own adaptation strategies.

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