California sets forth indicators of disproportionate impacts of climate change on environmental justice communities

To assist Cal-EPA with the examination of potential environmental justice concerns associated with climate change, Cal-EPA requested the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) [best known for its role in setting drinking water related Public Health Goals and in overseeing much of the Proposition 65 regulatory activities in California] to develop indicators describing disproportionate impacts of climate change on "certain" California communities.  The OEHHA report was just published.

What are the indicators of climate change that can be ascertained in California?  Among other changes, the report notes the following:  1) spring snowmelt volumes are declining [California is very dependent on snowmelt as a water resource]; 2) glaciers in the Sierra Nevada are decreasing in size; 3) sea level is rising [USGS folks that I know pointed out to me years ago that all the gauges they happen to monitor showed an ongoing increase in sea levels]; 4) large wildfires are becoming more frequent; and, 5) habitat ranges of certain plant and animal species are shifting [this latter point has been noted in many prior posts].

What then are the disproportionate impacts on low-income and minority communities?  Among other impacts the report notes the following four indicators: (1) low-income families and individuals are less likely to live in home with air conditioning, and electricity costs for cooling are a greater proportion of household income compared to more affluent households; (2) because summertime extreme heat since the mid-1980's appears to be trending upward (as shown by certain agricultural stations), farm workers are likely to experience disproportionately greater exposure to extreme heat; (3) low-income residents and minorities are more lively to live in urban neighborhoods with large impervious areas and minimal tree canopy, which intensify summertime heat; and, (4) rural poor living at wildland-urban interfaces may have less capacity and resources to take measures to prevent and fight wildfires and to recover from wildfires.

A copy of the report can be downloaded from: http://www.oehha.org/multimedia/epic/epic123110.html.