While California has been one of the most aggressive states in the U.S. to enact regulations to fight climate change, it will also be one of the first to get ready for the coming effects of climate change. On Friday, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order for the state to study how climate change and rising sea levels will shape state infrastructure, the water systems, building construction and land use.
The order calls for the state’s coast management agencies, as well as the Department of Water Resources, and the California Energy Commission to work with the National Academy of Sciences on a report due out Dec. 1, 2010 that looks at the effects of rising sea levels. The order also says state agencies need to factor rising sea levels into planned infrastructure construction and that the California Department of Transportation should examine which state transportation projects are vulnerable to climate change effects.
The order says the studies are needed because there has been little research done on how rising sea levels will affect California’s coasts:
“…while climate models predicting global sea level rise are generally understood and improving, less information is available for sea level rise projections specific to California that accounts for California’s topography, coastal erosion rates, varying land subsidence levels and tidal variations.”
The California order is one of the first we’ve heard of for an organized plan on the state level to acknowledge that climate change is coming and that a detailed plan is needed to change infrastructure and to account for rising sea levels, and rising temperatures. Other scientific organizations have focused on how to deal with the increases in extreme weather, and a coalition of climate groups led by the University Corp. for Atmospheric Research has started pushing for the next administration to fund new research on how best to understand, adapt to and prevent severe weather caused by climate change.
Schwarzenegger is also still bullish on implementing ways to reduce carbon emissions and add new renewable power options. Later today, the governor plans to sign another executive order that will supposedly “streamline California’s renewable energy project approval process.”