California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase.

Prepared by a large team of scientists, the White House released the study in an effort to create a greater sense urgency among Americans and build support for new climate change regulation that President Obama plans to introduce in June. An April Gallup poll found one in four Americans is still skeptical about the effects of climate change and thinks the seriousness of the issue has been exaggerated by the news media.

The report also describes the significantly varying impacts of climate change across the country, from torrential rains and coastal flooding in the Northeast, to severe droughts and intensifying wildfires in the West.

 “The contents confirm that climate change is not a distant threat,” Dr. John Holdren, President Obama’s science advisor, said in a video summary of the report. “It is affecting the American people already. On the whole, summers are longer and hotter with longer periods of extended heat. Wildfires start earlier in the spring and continue later into the fall. Rain comes down in heavier downpours. People are experiencing changes in the length and severity of seasonal allergies. And climate disruptions to water resources and agriculture have been increasing.”

So how does California make out in all of this?

Not so hot, it turns out (or actually, really hot). A separate 2013 study by the California Environmental Protection Agency, found far-reaching impacts across the state, including severe water shortages, more frequent wildfires, coastal flooding and extreme heat. The infographic below, found in the report, lists some of these key indicators. Mouse over it and click to zoom in on specific areas.


Matthew Green

Matthew Green produces and edits The Lowdown, KQED’s multimedia news education blog, an online resource for educators and the general public. He previously taught journalism at Fremont High School in East Oakland, and has written for numerous local publications, including the Oakland Tribune and San Francisco Chronicle. Email:; Twitter: @KQEDlowdown

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