California’s water supply and coastal resources, including valuable natural habitat areas, are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise over the next century, and according to an executive order issued by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger on Friday, the state could suffer devastating consequences if adaptive measures are not taken.
In a first-of-its-kind executive directive, Schwarzenegger, a Republican, has ordered the state to begin taking immediate action to mitigate the impending damage to state resources caused by climate change.
“Given the serious threat of sea level rise to California’s water supply, population and our economy, it’s critically important that we make sure the state is prepared,” Schwarzenegger said in a written release. “We have to adapt the way we work and plan in order to manage the impacts and challenges that California and our entire planet face from climate change,” said Schwarzenegger.
Executive Order S-13-08 says that “California must begin now to adapt and build our resiliency to coming climate changes through a thoughtful and sensible approach with local, regional, state and federal government using the best available science.” The order also requires state agencies that build new transportation infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, to factor in rising sea levels in their planning.
The executive order comes a day after the release of a report by a University of California economist predicting that if the state fails to act, it could suffer tens of billions of dollars in damage to its real estate, transportation systems and industries from water, fire and other climate-driven catastrophes by the end of the century.
Per the order, the state will request a study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences to determine the most threatening infrastructural vulnerabilities. The data collected—which should be available by 2010—would then be used for long-term planning of state infrastructure projects.
Environmental groups have reacted positively to the Schwarzenegger move, applauding such aggressive policies that mitigate and adapt to climate change.