Rising waters to impact state, experts say
Posted October 19, 2011 at 11:48 pm in News
Though sea levels off the coast of California have not risen significantly in 30 years, immediate action is required to stem the effects of global climate change, experts said Wednesday.
Leaders in biology, sociology, journalism and public policy came together at Wednesdayâs âClimate Change in Southern California Coastal Region: Scienceâs Issues and Societal Implicationsâ to discuss what needs to be done to address the issues.
Reinhard Flick, an oceanographer from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, began the discussion with an explanation of sea level rise, which he said would impact Southern California more directly than other areas because of the topography of the coast. Though Flick said a rising sea level will not directly affect Southern California right away, the sea level is a pressing concern because it worsens other environmental issues like erosion and flooding.
According to Flick, there has not been any significant sea level rise off the coast of California for more than 30 years. Instead, a global rising sea level has disproportionately affected the western Pacific coastlines of Asia because of wind stress patterns.
Flick warned this reprieve of sea level rise might soon come to an end, as scientists predict a change in the direction of wind patterns. This would ultimately indicate ocean levels will rise more quickly.
Policies implemented because of climate change also dominated the conversation,
Daniel Mazmanian, director of the USC Judith and John Bedrosian center on Governance and the Public Enterprise, discussed policy initiatives like the Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32), which put the 2020 greenhouse gas emissions reduction goal of CaliforniaÂ into law.
Though Californiaâs policies have provided for the mitigation of issues related to climate change, âwe donât really have a strategy for adaptation in California,â Mazmanian said.
He suggested that California create incentives to make policies more effective because average consumers, who do not easily change their behaviors, need motivation.
âWe donât have a logic focused on future concerns,â he said. âThere is no really compelling ethical consideration that makes us feel responsible for issues in the future.â
Xiao Liu, a graduate student studying ocean science, said she found the panelistsâ discussion of science and policy particularly informative.
âIâm a scientist, so I donât get a lot of information from classes in terms of the policy,â Liu said. âIâm actually thinking about taking on a second degree in environmental policy, so this is a good start for me.â
Trent Boras, an undeclared freshman, said he was glad he came to the discussion.
âItâs really interesting to come here because you learn a bunch of new things,â Boras said. âYou hear people ask questions that are very interesting and they kind of give you ideas of what you can do in the future to help slow down this action of global warming.â
The discussion was informative, said Nina Zhu, a senior majoring in business administration.
âIâm here for my GE class where weâre learning about humans and our environment, so this correlates with what weâre learning in class,â Zhu said. âIt also brings in new ideas and perspectives into place.â
She said climate change deserves more attention.
âAll we worry about is trying to get a job and the economy,â Zhu said. âWeâre not realizing how important of an issue [climate change] is. It directly affects us, more so than how much money youâre making, because this is the environment. This is our future.â