Scientists say extreme weather is on the horizon for California. (Photo: Craig Miller/KQED)

The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park today hosted the Governor’s Conference on Extreme Climate Risks and California’s Future.

“This event plays as a kind of passing of the climate baton from former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to Gov. Jerry Brown, both of whom will be on stage,” says Craig Miller, the senior editor of KQED’s Climate Watch. “Schwarzenegger was relentless about beating the climate drum, whereas Brown has been weighed down with budget woes. Hence, his climate plan has been a bit murky to date.”

Speaking to a couple hundred leaders in politics, business and science, the governor said that California needs to build on its early start in tackling climate change, and prepare for the unavoidable effects of a changing climate such as sustained droughts and flooding from winter storms.

“The risk is real, the cost is huge and growing, and therefore taking a sequence of realistic steps just makes sense, and that’s what we’re going to do in California,” he said.

Brown had some harsh words for Republicans who deny the existence of climate change.

“The main thing we have to deal with in climate change is the skepticism, the denial and the cult-like behavior of the political lemmings that would take us over the cliff,” Brown said.

Schwarzenegger called on current GOP presidential hopefuls to embrace renewable energy.

“Don’t be ashamed of renewable energy…let’s not be narrow-minded…let’s not villianize,” he said.

The conference was streamed live on the web:

Sarah Terry-Cobo for KQED as well as other reporters tweeted live from the conference. Click on the play button to start the Twitter stream…

Partial list of participants, from the guv’s site:

  • California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.
  • Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  • Dr. Rajendra Pachauri, Chair of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
  • Sir Richard Branson, Founder of the Virgin Group
  • Nancy Sutley, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality

“Other participants include public safety, insurance industry, public health and climate change experts, emergency response officials, public utility experts and farmers.”


  • California and the Global Climate Challenge
  • Climate Change’s Human and Economic Impacts on California
  • A National Perspective on Climate Action
  • Climate Solutions to Protect California Communities and Help our Economy

Here’s the full agenda (pdf) and here’s a conference overview and FAQ.

For more on the extreme weather in California’s future, read yesterday’s Climate Watch post on the latest scientific forecasts.

Brown, Schwarzenegger Push for Renewable Energy at Climate Change Conference 15 December,2011KQED News Staff

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