Bigger fires, dirtier air and more flooding. That’s the crux of the stark warning in the latest University of California climate change report released Monday by the governor’s office.
The report projects a 300 percent increase in wildfires over the next 30 to 50 years, a trend that seemingly already has started with record-breaking wildfire numbers in the past two years.
So far this year, 1 million acres have been charred, three times the five-year average, and scientists predict that will increase 77 percent by 2100.
"And we’re seeing that wildfire is now becoming a yearlong phenomenon," UC Davis researcher Ben Houlgon said.
Flooding from rising sea levels also is expected to have a big impact on Bay Area transportation. BART stations and San Francisco International Airport are among those transportation hubs threatened by rising seas. In fact, the report's authors say the water level could reach as high as three meters above current levels, and 31 to 67 percent of Southern California beaches may wash away.
"The entry to the Bay Bridge toll plaza is just a few feet above sea level, so we’ll begin to see flooding of the toll plaza on a relatively frequent basis," said scientist Andy Jones of the Lawrence Berkeley Lab.
Climate change also will affect air quality and the drinking water supply, according to the report.
"By mid-century and certainly by the end of the century we will have much more frequent occurrence of snow drought, which are years in which we see almost no snow at all," Jones said.
"My hope is that a report like this allows people to understand what climate change means in very real terms," Jones added, "and that will hopefully motivate action to slow the rate of climate change down at the same time that we do now have to adapt."
Last week, the Trump administration pushed for relaxed regulations on greenhouse gas emissions. California Gov. Jerry Brown has said the state is taking its own path.