California on the “Front Lines” – Schwarzenegger Releases Comprehensive Climate Adaptation Plan

Governor Schwarzenegger announces a comprehensive climate adaptation plan for California from Treasure IslandCalifornia governor Arnold Schwarzenegger announced yesterday the release of the Climate Adaptation Strategy (CAS).  Sitting at the center of San Francisco Bay, Schwarzenegger used the symbolism of Treasure Island as the site to make his announcement and emphasize the importance for the state taking action to adapt to climate change. Treasure Island is projected to be underwater by century’s end.

The CAS analyzes multi-sector impacts of climate change on a state that the California Natural Resources Agency, who prepared the report, says is on the “front lines” of climate adaptation.

If the state were to take no action to reduce or minimize expected impacts from future climate change, the costs would be severe,” the report warns.

Some of the most severe costs include $4 trillion dollars in coastal real estate put at risk, as well as the vital resource of the Sierra Nevada snowpack, according to the report.

The CAS advises state agencies to prepare for reduced snowpack, tightening water supplies (already a contentious issue in the state), more frequent floods, sea level rise, threatened coastal communities, and increased wildfires.

Governor Schwarzenegger endorsed the report’s recommendations, that encompasses a 12-part adaptation strategy, some of which include:

  • Creation of a climate adaptation advisory panel, staffed by business and government leaders, to further assess the level of risk facing California.
  • Pursuit of more reservoirs and water projects to address strained water supplies.
  • Implementation of a statewide conservation target to cut water use by 20 percent by 2020.
  • A directive to state agencies to avoid new development in areas prone to erosion, flooding and wildfire.
  • Expanded use of the California Environmental Quality Act to force managers of infrastructure projects to consider their contributions to greenhouse gas emissions.

Moving on two of the report’s key recommendations, the Governor today announced the creation of the Climate Adaptation Advisory Panel, as well as a new Google Earth-based application called Cal-Adapt the visually demonstrates the risk of climate impacts statewide and in local communities. Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who was on hand for the ceremony on Treasure Island, said his company intends to help the state’s adaptation efforts by customizing the Google Earth software to help California residents better understand the possible impacts of a changing climate.

Schwarzenegger will go to Copenhagen next week for the COP15 climate conference, saying that his state is the first to to incorporate an adaptation strategy. “We must be prepared if climate change continues to worsen,” he said, warning that California could see a 7-degree Fahrenheit rise in temperature by the end of the century.

Additional sources and further reading:
News Blaze
ClimateWire (subscription)

Image credit: Jill Clardy, flickr

Thomas Schueneman
Thomas Schueneman
Tom is the founder and managing editor of and the PlanetWatch Group. His work appears in Triple Pundit, Slate, Cleantechnia, Planetsave, Earth911, and several other sustainability-focused publications. Tom is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists.

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