#SummerScienceFriday | What do Resilient Regions Look Like?

 

What can climate resilience look like on a regional scale? How can we turn a giant metropolis like Los Angeles into an environmentally sustainable, resilient city, while still maintaining a sense of community?

 

Here is summary of regional strategies compiled from recent trends in California:

These strategies for regional water and climate resilience have the potential for positive impacts at the regional level. Benefits include (but are not limited to):

 

  • Improved and reliable water quality and supply

  • Reduced runoff, trash, and pollutants that wind up contaminating the ocean, harming ecosystems, and contributing to the Pacific garbage patch.

  • Habitat corridors for native animals to be able to move around.

  • Cooler temperatures which mitigate the urban heat island effect.

  • Creation of green jobs and equitable access to these jobs.

  • Improved public transportation networks to reduce car use, traffic and carbon emissions. For example, a train that holds 500 people can get 500 single-driver cars off the road while making a much smaller environmental impact!

 

So, what are some ways that CA is responding to climate change and what are some of the resilience strategies at different levels?


The State of California

What the state faces:

  • Warming climate - CA has warmed 1.1-2℉ in the last century (1).

  • Increasing wildfires! 7 of the 20 largest and deadliest CA wildfires from the last decade occurred in 2017 (2). Wildfires cause property damage, heat up the region, harm residents’ health, and cause mudslides and erosion.

  • Increase in extreme weather events and 3x increase in flooding events (3).

  • If CA were a country, it would rank #14 globally in the level of fossil fuel emissions (4), 50% of these emissions come from the transportation sector (5).

  • The state water supply is extremely taxed and increasing pressure is estimated to cost California $500 million to $1.5 billion each year by 2085 (4).

  • About 20% of CA electricity is used for state water systems. Supplying water to Southern California requires almost 50 times more energy than supplying water to Northern California (6).

 

Current State-Level Programs & Solutions:

  • The state has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

  • Policies have been implemented to benefit underserved communities. In September of 2012, California became the first state to legislatively recognize access to water as a human right.

  • Various bond measures to fund projects have been recently passed. Prop 1, passed in 2014, provides funds for water projects and restoration (7).

  • Safe Drinking Water Plan - In 2015, the California Waterboard assessed the state of water quality in CA and provided improvement recommendations.