California has made huge strides in combating climate change, but there is still a long way to go. Back in 2006, state lawmakers passed AB 32, also known as the Global Warming Solutions Act. It set a goal of getting greenhouse gas emissions down to 1990 levels or lower by 2020. The state managed to reach that goal four years early. Robert Epstein, co-founder of Environmental Entrepreneurs, discussed the success of AB 32, and what needs to happen next, during a lecture at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Epstein begins with a look at what worked. Some solutions you might expect, like renewable energy, increased efficiency and long-lasting political support. Other factors may come as a surprise. The economic downturn helped, because people use fewer resources when they have less money. We also got some assistance from mother nature, with heavy rains in 2016 that boosted hydroelectric power generation. But, even though California has made great achievements in lowering greenhouse gas emissions, the state must make even deeper cuts to avoid the worst effects of climate change. A new version of AB 32 aims to get emissions 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.
Epstein says California has much of the technology and policy in place to reach that 40% goal, but some aspects of the plan are unclear. He says we’re on pace to meet 50% renewable energy 10 years early, and have a solid track record when it comes to appliance and building standards. He thinks it’s likely we’ll figure out how to manage methane and increase energy storage. But, he sees big hurdles when it comes to reducing transportation emissions, cap and trade reductions, and management of both forests and land used for agriculture.
Despite those challenges, Epstein is optimistic California can rise to the occasion and be an example to the world of how to combat climate change. He even has some ideas on how to overcome each major obstacle, and how the oil industry might be able to help.
Watch California Accomplishments in Addressing Climate Change featuring Robert Epstein
The Tibetan Plateau is home to unique, rare and endangered fauna and flora that has adapted to survival in this lofty, arid land. For thousands of years rivers originating here have nourished the civilizations stretching from Pakistan to China and throughout India and South Asia. Home to about one-third of the world’s population, this vast region is facing dramatic changes as the glaciers that both store and supply water shrink, and global warming brings new regimes and patterns in climatology.
What will these changes be? What are the mechanisms that cause them? How can so much of the world’s humanity adapt or prepare? And what will be the fate of the plants and animals that have for so long called this place home?
Explore how UCLA researchers are studying the causes and the effects these changes will bring to The Tibetan Plateau and all it touches.
Watch The Tibetan Plateau
The effects of climate change on fauna and flora across the globe are more and more evident – the Pika has changed its range, and may disappear, sea stars have been visited by a withering collapse in population, insects from bark beetles to mosquitoes are inhabiting new territories, bringing disease to humans and destruction to forests. And close to home, the ocean temperature recently hit the highest temperature ever recorded.
As our changing climate provides a natural laboratory for examining how organisms evolve adaptations to environmental extremes, Scripps’ Oceanography’s Ron Burton asks: can evolution keep up with rapid climate change or are most species likely to go extinct as temperatures rise?
Ron shares about the cutting-edge genetic tools he uses to understand how populations of tidepool animals cope with rapid temperature changes and how evolution has shaped those responses across the geographic range of each species.
Watch Feeling the Heat: The Biology of Ocean Warming
Many people will consider factual information and it will change their understanding. But there are some for whom, “Providing more, accurate information doesn’t seem to change their opinions or make them alter their erroneous views,” says Eugenie Scott, Founding Executive Director of National Center for Science Education. For example, Americans have a much lower incidence of acceptance of evolution than people in any other developed country in the world. The same is true about the acceptance of anthropogenic climate change, despite the scientific evidence for both.
What explains this knowledge resistance?
We all view factual information through a filter of ideology, values, and group identification but these filters often make ideas very resistant to change because they prevent us from looking dispassionately at empirical evidence, facts and logic. Scott explores what drives knowledge resistance and what can break it down.
Eugenie C. Scott served as the executive director of the National Center for Science Education, an organization that works to keep publicly (though not scientifically) controversial topics like evolution and climate change in the public schools. Her work has involved a mixture of science, communication, religion, education, law, and community activism.
Watch Why Do People Reject Good Science?
California is the top agriculture-producing state in the country, and that big business presents big challenges. California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross addressed many of the key issues during a speech presented by UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy.
Secretary Ross talks at length about the impact climate change has already had on the state’s resources and the effects we can expect to see in the future. She says prolonged droughts, like the one California just escaped, will become more common. But, we can also expect more severe flooding. Ross says the state needs to take a big-picture approach to water and land management in order to mitigate future disasters. But, she says there is hope. Agriculture accounts for just eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions in California, compared to 30 percent worldwide. Ross says her department and private farmers are working on ways to bring down greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture in California, and she hopes their progress can serve as a model for sustainable farming worldwide.
Following her speech, Secretary Ross covers everything from immigration reform to the future of agricultural careers in a fascinating Q&A moderated by her former colleague, Executive Director of the Berkeley Food Institute, Ann Thrupp.
Watch California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary Karen Ross