Recently a study making big environmental news was released. This particular study focused upon how much the greater Los Angeles area will warm because of climate change. The results of this study are dramatic and frightening. Generally, climate scenarios within the region suggest an average increase of 4.6 degrees by 2041. There are some noteworthy differences based on land and sea demographics however. Experts state that ocean temperatures will increase 3.5 to 4 degrees, mountains and deserts warming between 4.5 to 5 degrees and densely populated urban areas warming between 4 to 4.5 degrees. Furthermore, experts also state that more warming is predicted to occur in summer and fall than in spring and winter.
This equals days consistently above 95 degrees. The result on the ecosystem varies. Santa Monica, Venice and San Pedro are all coastal areas. Due to the cooling effect of the ocean, these areas rarely see above 95 degrees. With these increases, even these coastal areas will for the first time see perhaps a day or two above and beyond 95 degrees. With these increases downtown Los Angeles can expect 4.6 days above 95 degrees and Pasadena can expect hot days increasing from 3 days to 9.5 days. This doesn’t sound like much of an increase and certainly doesn’t seem drastic. However, in Lancaster these intense hot days will increase from 20 days on average today to around 55 days. Palm Springs, which currently sees 75 days above 95 degrees, increased to 119 days each year. That is a whopping 1/3 of the year spent in an oppressive 95 degrees or higher, hot enough to overcome even a solar golf cart.
Even more shocking is the fact that even under the most aggressive carbon mitigation scenarios warming is a mere 30% less than this. Although this is a worthwhile goal to work towards, it is also an indication of how much change human activity has already caused or is currently committed to happening. According to Alex Hall of UCLA’s Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences “Even if we we drastically cut pollution worldwide, there will still be quite a bit of warming in Los Angeles…I was taken a little taken aback by how much warming remains, no matter how aggressively we cut back. It was sobering”.
These dangerously hot days translate to real concern for health professionals. Due to the increase in sweltering weather, officials will need to inform the public on heat-related illnesses. Of particular concern is the health and well being of children and the elderly who both already struggle in broiling heat waves. In order to serve the public, additional cooling centers may need to be developed While these centers are helpful to the public at large for health concerns, they also drain water and power providers, who are already challenged by their own climate-dependant troubles. We can only guess at this point the challenges California’s animal and vegetation populations will feel under the increased heat, let alone the resources within the ocean itself.
To use a famous Thomas Edison quote, “Until man duplicates a blade of grass, nature can laugh at his so-called scientific knowledge….”