No matter what Californians do, they will have to adapt to a drier climate and rising sea levels, according to experts who testified at a hearing headed by Sen. Fran Pavley (D-Santa Monica) in Santa Monica last week.
Haymet testified in the Santa Monica City Council Chambers before a panel that also included Santa Monica Mayor Richard Bloom, State Senators Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles) and Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), and Assemblywoman Betsy Butler (D-Marina del Rey).
"We have a pretty good handle on what's waiting for us," Dr. Tony Haymet, a director at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography told the panel. "That's the good news. We're still a wealthy community. We have the resources."
Haymet went on, however, to describe a very dry future for the state, including rising sea levels that would seriously harm area beaches – and have a negative impact on the beach-tourism economy.
Also testifying were Julia Levin, Deputy Secretary for Climate Change and Energy for the California Natural Resources Agency, Matthew Heberger of the Pacific Institute, Louis Blumberg of The Nature Conservancy, and Rosi Dagit, a biologist for the Resources Conservation District of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Much of the testimony predicted a rather dire future for the state, with vanishing resources, negative economic impacts, and a growing population. Martha Dina Arguello, from Physicians for Social Responsibility, spoke about how climate change will have more dire impacts on the poor of the region.
Arguello argued for encouraging the creation of more green spaces and community gardens in urban areas.
"We have to put social equity at the center of our policy," Arguello said. "If you put the most vulnerable at the center of your policy, things will change."
However, there was a sense of hope throughout the testimony.
"Everything we need to do are things we need to do, anyway," Levin said, pointing out that efforts help the region mitigate the coming climate change will also provide much-needed jobs and other benefits to the state's population. "They have enormous benefits to California. It isn't all doom and gloom."
"Adaptation is going to be necessary," Heberger said. He also advocated using more natural mitigations and adaptations, such as increasing and restoring coastal wetlands to deal with rising sea levels.
Pavley said after the hearing that it was only the start of what needs to be done.
"I think it's the beginning of the discussion and educating the legislators," she said.