It’s tougher to pretend there’s no danger from climate change if you live in California, which is struggling under a historic drought.
In the midst of the massive problems lack of water is causing, Gov. Jerry Brown is challenging his state to take the longer view and make improvements and sacrifices that might help reverse the earth’s environmental deterioration.
On Wednesday, Brown issued an executive order that, within the next 15 years, California must dial back its greenhouse-gas emissions by 40 percent below the state’s 1990 levels. That’s particularly ambitious at the moment. During the drought, the state will be forced to rely more on fossil-based, pollution-generating fuel; there will be less water to generate hydroelectric power.
Brown is asking Californians to sharply reduce gasoline use, rely more on clean and renewable energy, and make buildings and homes more energy-efficient. He compares the effort to confront climate change to American mobilization during World War II.
Those who choose to believe there is no problem are engaged in magical thinking, according to Brown.
Evidence of climate change’s clear and current danger is everywhere in California, he said in his executive order, including "loss of snowpack, drought, sea level rise, more frequent and intense wildfires, heat waves, more severe smog, and harm to natural and working lands."
No matter how ambitious its efforts, California alone won’t be able to reverse the effects of climate change. But environmentalists hope that the state’s example will help inspire other states and countries to action.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, are you listening?