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California Government Prepares For Extreme Effects Of Climate Change

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- California has released its plan to deal with the potentially extreme effects of climate change.

California's Natural Resources Agency released a final plan Tuesday that spells out how California will prepare for the extreme weather and sea level rise expected to accompany Earth's changing climate. The plan aims to enhance the state's readiness for future droughts and wildfires as well.

The report, Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans, comes in response to a 2015 executive order by California Governor Jerry Brown establishing a greenhouse gas reduction target for the state and a directive to state agencies to make informed decisions while avoiding high costs when faced with the impacts of climate change. The report takes recommendations from the 2014 report, Safeguarding California: Reducing Climate Risk.

More than 25 state agencies, departments, boards, and commissions, as well as members of the public, contributed to the report released Tuesday.

"From eroding sea cliffs to shrunken mountain snowpack, many effects of climate change in California are obvious," California's Natural Resources Agency Secretary John Laird writes in the report. "Other effects are not so obvious but potentially powerful. Warmer average temperatures will affect everything from whether butterflies survive to where wine grapes can grow."

The report describes the many environmental threats facing California and highlights possible mitigation and adaptation measures that can be taken by the state government to protect residents, property and natural systems.

The focus of the report is on water, agriculture, biodiversity, emergency management, energy, forestry, land use, coastal resources, public health, and transportation. The report states its aim is to ensure "that people, communities, and natural systems are able to withstand the impacts of climate disruption."

Adaptation ideas are also highlighted in the report and include concepts such as shading concrete sections of cities and retrofitting fish hatcheries to cope with warmer stream water.

Ultimately, the report states that much is known about what threatens California, but that different industries must work together to mitigate those hazards.

"We know that healthy forests clean our air and water, wetlands help absorb rising tides and storm surges, and parks, open space, and farmland sequester carbon and minimize the effects of urban heat islands," the report states.

The report states that climate change threatens California's robust, and often year-round, agricultural industry.

California's agriculture industry produces far more than the state consumes, with over 400 commodities valued at $54 billion in 2014. California grows a third of all vegetables in the U.S. and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts, according to the report.

A study by the University of California at Davis estimates the total economic impact of the 2015 California drought at $2.7 billion, with an estimated loss of 10,100 seasonal farm worker jobs.

The report states that "every sector and every lever for change in government has to be a part of the strategy."

Sections of the report also describe the threat that climate change poses to the state's most vulnerable residents and stresses the importance of "incorporating diverse voices in the planning of our adaptation strategies" in order to increase their effectiveness.

Each of the 10 state sectors will report to the Natural Resources Agency in June on the implementation action plans and, as required by state law, by January 1, 2017, the Natural Resources Agency will release a draft climate adaptation strategy.

The final 279-page Safeguarding California: Implementation Action Plans report is available here.

By Hannah Albarazi - Follow her on Twitter: @hannahalbarazi.

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