Statewide assessment, which comes amid summer of extreme wildfires, warns of deadly cost if climate change is not stopped
Tue 28 Aug 2018
California’s summer of deadly wildfires and dangerous heatwaves will soon be the new normal if nothing is done to stop climate change, a report released on Monday warns.
City heatwaves could lead to two to three times as many deaths by 2050, the report says. By 2100, without a reduction in emissions, the state could see a 77% increase in the average area burned by wildfires. The report also warns of erosion of up to 67% of its famous coastline, up to an 8.8F (4.9C) rise in average maximum temperatures, and billions of dollars in damages.
“These findings are profoundly serious and will continue to guide us as we confront the apocalyptic threat of irreversible climate change,” said the state’s governor, Jerry Brown, in a tweet about the report, the fourth statewide climate change assessment released since 2006.
The effects of those extreme heat days will probably weigh most heavily on the state’s most vulnerable residents, including the more than 100,000 people who are homeless in California, many of whom live on the streets without reliable access to fans, air conditioners, or running water.
“The 2006 heatwave killed over 600 people, resulted in 16,000 emergency department visits, and led to nearly $5.4bn in damages,” the assessment reports. “The human cost of these events is already immense, but research suggests that mortality risk for those 65 or older could increase tenfold by the 2090s because of climate change.”