Studies: More Smog, Less H20 Possible In California

Climate change will increase pollution levels and decrease water supplies in portions of the San Joaquin Valley, according to two just-released reports.

If both are true, the ramifications of climate change bode ill for residents of the Valley, which already has some of the worst air pollution in the nation and is one of the top farming regions in the world.

In one Air Resources Board report, scientists at Universities of California at Davis and Berkeley found that California by 2050 could experience as many as six to 30 more days with ozone concentrations that exceed federal clean-air standards.

The study also predicts that peak concentrations of dangerous airborne particles will increase in the San Joaquin Valley as climate change affects wind patterns. "Now we have scientific evidence that higher temperatures are hurting our lungs," Air Resources Board Chairperson Mary D. Nichols said in a statement released with the report.

The new study provides evidence of what is called "climate penalty" - where rising temperatures increase ground-level ozone and airborne particles, despite achievements by programs targeting smog-forming emissions from cars, trucks and industry.

"Climate change and regional air pollution are intertwined problems," added Dr. Michael J. Kleeman of UC, Davis. "We must consider climate change and air pollution together as we plan for the future."

The researchers merged results of large-scale global models with detailed models for the South Coast and San Joaquin Valley. One positive note: The study found that climate could decrease particulate matter concentratiosn in coastal California.

Still, it's not good news for the San Joaquin Valley, where childhood asthma rates are among the highest in the nation.

If that study isn't bad enough, there's another equally depressing report. This one, released by the Natural Resources Defense Council, says a study by Tetra Tech concluded that climate change could increase the risk of severe water shortages in 48 of California's 58 counties - including most in the central San Joaquin Valley - by 2050.

Those at-risk counties produce some $21.5 billion worth of crops, with farmers in Fresno County contributing $5 billion to that total.

The report uses publicly available water-use data and climate projections from models used in recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work to evaluate water withdrawals. "The analysis shows...over one out of three U.S. counties facing greater risks of water shortages," said Dan Lashof, director of the climate center at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The report noted that already in some areas, including parts of California, water use exceeds supply.

The San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization is a nonprofit dedicated to improving our region's quality of life by increasing its production and use of clean and alternative energy. The SJVCEO works with cities and counties and public and private organizations to demonstrate the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy throughout the eight-county region of the San Joaquin Valley.
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