Los Angeles, CA – Ninety-eight percent of Californians live in counties affected recently by weather-related disasters, including drought, wildfires and flooding, according to a new interactive map using data from the federal government. Scientists say global warming is already exacerbating some extreme weather events and their impacts.
“We used to think of climate change as a problem that would happen someday, somewhere,” said Michelle Kinman, clean energy advocate for Environment California Research & Policy Center. “But as this map helps demonstrate, global warming is happening now, and it’s already hitting close to home.”
Environment California researchers, who created the online map, found that the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture have declared disasters related to droughts, severe storms and floods in 57 of the state’s 58 counties between 2010 and 2015. Scientists predict unchecked global warming will increase the frequency, severity and the catastrophic impacts of such disasters.
In addition to statistics for recent weather-related disasters, the map includes case studies and personal stories from Americans impacted by extreme weather events across the country.
“The drought in California has hit every single resident hard. Living in Northern California, my family is one of those families struggling to reduce water from being wasted,” wrote Julia from Kensington, California. “I now also track the path of wildfires in Northern California hoping they can be stopped. Yet I watch them creep ever closer to my home and family. It's hard to watch the state I love go through all of this at once.”
The map reveals that nationwide, more than 40 million Americans live in counties that were affected by more than five weather disasters over the last five years, while counties housing 96 percent of the population experienced declared disasters at least once.
The map is being unveiled as U.S. Senate leaders seek to undo the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of President Obama’s plan to address climate change, and as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency holds public hearings on implementing the plan.
It also comes just weeks before world leaders convene in Paris to reach an international agreement to slash global warming emissions.
Since the pre-industrial era, average global temperature has increased by nearly a degree Celsius, and climate scientists view another degree increase as untenable, leading to increasingly extreme weather events that will make parts of the world uninhabitable.
“To avoid even more dangerous climate impacts,” said Kinman, “we need our leaders to act boldly to slash carbon pollution and transition to 100 percent clean renewable energy."
Environment California Research & Policy Center is a statewide advocacy organization bringing people together for a cleaner, greener, healthier future. www.EnvironmentCaliforniaCenter.org