Changing Climate and Changing Demographics

Changing Climate and Changing Demographics

The California EPA’s latest report on climate change shows that it is having a significant and measurable impact on the state’s environment. The new state report tracks 36 indicators of climate change and its effects, and indicators show that climate change is occurring throughout California, from the Pacific Coast to the Central Valley to the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Impacts of a warmer climate include decreasing spring snowmelt runoff, rising sea levels along the California coast, shrinking glaciers, increasing wildfires, warming lakes and ocean waters, and the gradual migration of many plants and animals to higher elevations.

Furthermore, the Sustainable Cities Collective posted recently about a leaked draft report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC),  that further increases the certainty that climate change is man-made.

Whatever the cause, we can agree that the climate is changing, and so are the state’s demographics…

Demographic map for San Francisco area from 2000 and 2010 census

City University of New York’s (CUNY) Center for Urban Research has created a powerful interactive map showing both the 2000 and the 2010 Census findings of race and ethnicity. The map focuses on 11 urban areas across the country, including the San Francisco Bay Area from Monterey to Sonoma. Scrolling around you can instantly see the demographic change that occurred over the last decade by census tract. The region overall has become less white (dark blue), and there seems to be a finer grain of demographic mixing. Large areas that were predominantly white, black, Asian or Hispanic have become more diverse.

Although we may not have been overtly charged with addressing these specific issues in the past, none of this is real news to anyone in the profession.  What is telling is that the changes are significant and measurable; there is no turning back the clock or denying the changes. As professionals within the realm of landscape architecture and environmental planning, we are well equipped to tackle these issues. Be assured that we will be charged to directly address them in the future.

You can read the Cal EPA’s press release here and the complete climate change report here.


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