June 1, 2007, OAKLAND, CA – “By delaying effective action, President Bush’s plan will increase the dangers of climate change.” That was how Dr. Peter H. Gleick, expert on the impacts of climate change on water resources and director of the Pacific Institute of Oakland, California, summed up President Bush’s recently announced proposal to reduce greenhouse gases. And according to a report by the Pacific Institute, climate change will likely play havoc with California’s water supply.
“According to an overwhelming majority of scientists, global warming is well underway,” emphasized Dr. Gleick. “The Pacific Institute’s research indicates that climate change will likely pose a serious threat to California. The problem is that the voluntary limits President Bush is proposing won’t be effective. In fact, Bush’s plan will make the dangers of climate change worse by delaying effective action.”
According to a report released by the Pacific Institute, the effects of climate change on California’s water resources will likely be very serious.
“Climate change won’t just result in warmer temperatures,” stressed Dr. Gleick. “One of the most troubling impacts of unchecked climate change involves California’s water supply. Global warming will change when and where we get snow and rain. If our snow pack melts too quickly or if water that falls as snow turns to rain, we’ll see more flooding in the winter and less water during the summer when we need it most.”
Not only could our water supply be threatened, but even a small increase in sea level will seriously threaten California’s coastal areas and the millions of people who live there.
“Another reason why California should be concerned about the Bush plan is that millions of residents live near the coast,” continued Dr. Gleick. “If climate change goes unchecked, California’s coastal areas will face more requent and severe floods. A one-foot rise in sea level could cost California billions of dollars.”
Another troubling effect of delaying real action on climate change is that California’s natural systems, which in turn support important industries like agriculture, will also be harmed.
“If rainfall patterns change or the amount of water available for irrigation drops, California farmers will also be seriously hurt,” Dr. Gleick noted. “President Bush is right to emphasize sustainable development and flexible regulation as possible solutions,” concluded Dr. Gleick, “but his voluntary plan will almost certainly fail to slow global warming. And by delaying real action, Bush’s plan will increase the danger to California, the United States, and the world.”
“Water: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change for the Water Resources of the United States” is available online.
Dr. Peter H. Gleick is co-founder and President of the Pacific Institute. Dr. Gleick is an internationally recognized expert on water issues. He was elected an Academician of the International Water Academy in Oslo, Norway and was recently appointed to the Water Science and Technology Board of the National Academy of Sciences, Washington, D.C.
Founded in 1987 and based in Oakland, California, The Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment and Security is nonpartisan and independent. We provide esearch and policy analysis on issues at the intersection of sustainable development, environmental protection and international security.