4 out of 5 Californians live in areas hit by recent weather disasters



Los Angeles -- 'The extreme weather we suffered through in 2011 is a frightening reminder of why we must do everything we can to cut the dangerous carbon pollution that is fueling global warming by investing in clean, renewable energy,' said Sean Carroll, Environment California's Federal Field Associate. 'Recent weather-related disasters in California include wildfires, flooding and mudslides.'

The report, In the Path of the Storm: Global Warming, Extreme Weather, and the Impacts of Weather-Related Disasters in the United States, examines the number of weather-related disasters declared through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in counties across California from 2006 to 2011, finding that 4 out of 5 Californians live in counties that were affected by weather-related disasters. The report is accompanied by a new interactive map identifying recent weather-related disasters in counties across California.

Environment California was joined by elected officials from across the state in releasing the report.

Congressman Mike Honda (Campbell) said, 'The past few years have seen a number examples of unusual weather and its impacts - uncharacteristically low snowfall in the Sierras, which will have serious ramifications for water supplies; changes in seasonal weather patterns that are affecting crop growth, altering bird migration pathways, and causing insect extinctions; and devastating tornadoes and hurricanes.

Environment California's report puts together all of these pieces of the puzzle, revealing a grim picture of the impact of climate change on our planet and highlighting the changes we must make to avert this calamity.

Global warming is expected to have varying impacts on different types of extreme weather events. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change recently concluded that it is 'virtually certain' that hot days will become hotter and 'likely' that extreme precipitation events will continue to increase worldwide. In addition, every weather event is now a product of a climate system where global warming 'loads the dice' for extreme weather, though in different ways for different types of extreme weather.

Higher temperatures, prolonged dry spells, and drought are expected to contribute to an increase in wildfire activ¬ity in parts of the country. Heat waves are projected to be more frequent, more intense, and last longer. Additionally, smog and the number of 'unhealthy air days' increases as hotter temperatures mix with sunlight, ni¬trogen oxides and volatile organic com¬pounds.

The good news is that California has many tools at our fingertips to begin solving the problem. As the world's 12th largest source of global warming pollution, California can make a world of a difference by continuing to undertake big initiatives to solve global warming-like investing in clean energy.

Strong support at the state level over the last decade has made California home to the nation's biggest clean energy market.

Since the Million Solar Roofs initiative passed in 2006, California now has more rooftop solar than all but 5 countries, and has only scratched the surface of its potential.

California also has tremendous wind energy potential. In 2011, California added more wind power than any state and the industry now employs 4,000-5,000 people across the state.

And with states like California leading the way, wind power is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional energy source-the price of wind across the country has dropped 90 percent since 1980. And the jobs are staying here-60 percent of a wind turbine's value is now produced in the United States-up from 25 percent in 2005.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (El Monte) added, 'California is already pursuing a robust commitment to clean energy alternatives, but we can't do it alone. By investing in clean energy solutions like wind power right now, America can lead the way to a cleaner - and safer - tomorrow.'

This year presents a big opportunity for the future of clean energy nationally and in California. The support of state and federal policies to incentivize clean energy is critical for the continued growth and success of clean energy industries across the country, including in California.

At the state level, Governor Jerry Brown has set a goal to install 12 gigawatts (GW) worth of local clean energy by 2020-that's twelve times our current market and the equivalent of 24 large coal-fired power plants.

Congressman Bob Filner (Chula Vista) commented, 'We need to do more to reduce our national pollution levels and promote our nation's investment in alternative energy and energy efficient technology. California should lead the way!'

'We know that the clean energy industry is growing local economies, adding jobs, and creating a cleaner future for California, and we should invest in its success,' added Carroll. 'We applaud the elected officials who are standing up for a brighter future.'

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