Building long-term resilience to climate change in California

CALmatters

In the past decade, California has experienced its most severe drought in over a millennium, devastating floods, the hottest summer on record and eight of the 10 largest wildfires ever recorded in the state.

Within the past month, Death Valley set a new record for the hottest temperature ever recorded on earth, and wildfires burned an area larger than the state of Connecticut. Three of the largest wildfires in California history are still smoldering, the smoke from which is now visible as far away as New York City.

Climate-driven disasters are increasingly putting Californians at risk and our most vulnerable populations, comprised largely of people of color, are suffering disproportionate impacts. These populations often have the least access to parks, greenspace and health care resources, and are at increased risk from rising temperatures, poor air quality driven by wildfires and other climate change impacts.

For instance, Hispanic and Latino communities comprise the majority of workers in California’s increasingly hot, drought-prone agricultural centers, and marginalized neighborhoods along the San Francisco Bay shoreline face heightened flood risk from rising sea level. Many of these communities are also experiencing severe economic impacts from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, even as we collectively enter flood season and endure what has become a perennial threat of catastrophic wildfire.

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