Renewables Could Save California from Environmental Damage

Politicians in California should adopt a renewables portfolio standards it they want to minimize environmental damage and health hazards in the southern part of the state.

LOS ANGELES, California, US, 2001-06-19 [] Politicians in California should adopt a renewables portfolio standards it they want to minimize environmental damage and health hazards in the southern part of the state. Global warming has “potentially severe consequences” for Los Angeles and the southern part of the state, according to a report released Tuesday by Environmental Defense. The report is the most comprehensive analysis of the potential impacts of global warming on the environment and the public health for the region. “This report shows that global warming is as much about Compton as Kyoto,” explains Michael Oppenheimer, the group’s chief scientist. “The data are clear: global warming in Southern California could lead to shrinking beaches in Santa Monica, asthma attacks in the Valley, and heat waves in Riverside.” “The climate forecast for L.A. isn’t pretty,” adds project director Janine Bloomfield. “Heavy storms, intense heat, and smoggy skies could become more common, more severe and more damaging unless action is taken now.” The report shows that global warming may have a wide variety of severe impacts on southern Californians including more storms, hot summer days, more smog that exacerbates respiratory illness, increased potential for hantavirus, increased El Nino-type conditions affecting coastal communities, increased risk of fires in mountain ranges, faster decline or shifts in range of numerous marine species, and increased potential for water shortages. “There is a real chance for a win-win situation here,” explains Jim Martin, senior policy analyst for Environmental Defense. “The right solutions to the energy crisis, efficiency, clean energy sources, and conservation, are also the best way to reduce emissions of global warming pollution.” The group recommends that the state legislature adopt bill SB 531, which would impose a renewables portfolio standards that requires electricity suppliers to provide at least 20 percent of their electricity from renewables by 2010. It also says the Bush administration should work to improve, rather than reject, the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, and that buildings be made more efficient by increasing insulation, installing solar panels on rooftops, and increasing the reflective surface of buildings to keep them cooler. While sharply reducing fossil fuel emissions will go a long way to lessening the impacts of global warming, “some climate change is probably unavoidable,” admits the report. It calls for the maintenance of strong emissions controls to reduce ozone-smog levels and improve air quality, the planting of more trees and more parks to cool the environment, incorporating climate change into long-term water resource planning, and planning appropriate beach and shoreline management. “The hotter weather we expect as a result of global warming promotes the formation of ozone, the major component of smog,” explains Kent Bransford, climate change consultant with Physicians for Social Responsibility. “This increase in air pollution may trigger an increase of asthma attacks, especially in the most vulnerable populations, children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses.”
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