San Diego and Baja
By 2050, average August temperatures in San Diego County are projected to increase by 8 °F. San Diego and Northern Baja are experiencing severe droughts as our demand for water outstrips our supply. Fires are becoming more frequent and more intense. Sea levels will continue to rise around 1 centimeter per year, which will total a minimum increase of a foot by 2050. Areas at and below sea level in coastal San Diego will be submerged.
In order to put the impacts of climate change into perspective it is necessary to quantify its strain on modern living standards in the US. Two common indices measuring human well-being are the Human Development Index (HDI) and the Physical Quality of Life Index (PQLI). In general, countries that consume and have access to more electricity score higher on the HDI and PQLI. This is because energy acts as a marker for technological and economic sophistication. Progress in these areas is associated with better health care, education, and higher life expectancy.
California’s dwindling supply of fresh water immediately impacts economic prosperity and quality of life. The price of energy produced from hydropower plants has greatly increased since 2012, which increases the overall cost of energy or forces utilities to supplement production losses with fossil fuel. When farmers lost around 6.6 million acre-feet of surface water in 2014, the economic losses totaled 1.75 billion US$. Similarly, the reduction of supply of freshwater has negatively impacted agriculture in Baja and a large portion of the land currently used to produce maize will no longer be suitable for cultivation in 2055. By 2100, Mexico’s GDP is projected to drop by 6%-30%.
People rely directly on the land in terms of resources, food, trade and a means of livelihood. The effects of climate change have desertified 9 billion acres, or 25% of the earth’s total land mass. Each year 1,400 square miles of potentially productive farmland is taken out of production or abandoned worldwide. As a result 900,000 people migrate annually from arid and semiarid rural regions into urban ones. This phenomenon is especially true in Baja, as a majority of farmland has been compromised by drought and over-farming.
Climate change will be responsible for a projected 50 to 200 million climate refugees by 2050 around the world. The U.S has thousands of environmental refugees, for example 200 Alaskan Villages are being forces to move because of encroaching waves and many more displaced from Hurricane Katrina and Missouri floods. Thousands of farmers in Mexico are annually moving to cities, and thousands more are migrating north to escape the effects of Hurricanes and Poverty.
The goal for future development is to live resiliently and anticipate the consequences of climate. Resiliency is the ability to become strong, healthy or successful again after something bad happens. To be resilient is to be a resourceful community and to take the opportunity to strengthen health, environmental, social and economic systems by learning about past emergencies and to better prepare. Resilience is a combination of 2 major concepts: 1. Mitigation is the anticipation and action taken to reduce the severity of climate-based consequences in the future; 2. Adaptation refers to modified behavior to cope with status quo problems.