the George W. Bush administration has admitted that global warming is
real. The Environmental Protection Agency recently posted on their web
site how this change is likely to affect California. Here's what we face.
The average temperature in central California increased by about two
degrees during the last century and is expected to rise an additional
five degrees over the next century. With an increase in temperature will
come in increase in smog. Illnesses and deaths due to heat and air
pollution will increase. For example, an increase in temperature of three
degrees doubles the number of heat-related deaths.
In many regions of the state, including our area, precipitation
decreased by about 20% over the past century. The Environmental
Protection Agency predicts a reversal of this trend for most of
California, with an increase in precipitation over the next 100 years.
The bad news is that it is expected to come in the form of more severe
and damaging winter storms that will cause coastal flooding.
The agency noted that global warming has caused the sea level to rise
8 inches in San Diego over the past century. They predict an additional
sea level rise of 13 to 19 inches for California over the next century.
This will cause flooding of low-lying property, permanent loss of
portions of our local coastal wetlands, erosion of our 8 miles of sandy
beach, and saltwater intrusion on our fresh water supply.
We live in Southern California, but snowfall hundreds of miles away in
the Rocky and Sierra mountains affects our water supply. If weather there
becomes warmer, as is predicted, winter storms will change in nature. A
greater percentage of the precipitation will come as rain, rather than
snow. The snowpack that is formed will melt earlier, overwhelming
reservoir storage capacity. The excess will have to be let out. But with
less runoff predicted for spring and summer, the reservoirs in Northern
California won't be able to refill. This means less water for us.
Here's another effect that warmer temperatures will have on us. As the