Climate Change is Impacting Sacramento. Here’s What You Can Do.

An overhead view of ag fields along the river. Learn how climate change is impacting Sacramento.

Climate Change is Impacting Sacramento. Here’s What You Can Do.

August 15, 2019 | By The Railyards

Climate change is a global issue. But it’s one that has a big impact on the local Sacramento region.

As climate impacts increase across the region, Sacramento needs to be prepared for more extreme heat, reduced water supply, increased wildfire damages, and an increase in infectious disease… and that’s just the beginning.

“We are already seeing changes in our climate and environment, like extreme heat events, more extreme weather events, earlier snow melt, milder winter temperatures, longer fire seasons, and water shortages.” - Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

Extreme Heat

Heat isn’t anything new to Sacramentans. Residents of the Northern California region are accustomed to soaring temps climbing above 100°F in the summer months. 

Even so…

It’s not your imagination, Sacramento.

It really is getting hotter here.

Extreme heat waves are impacting everyone. July 2019 was the hottest month on record, says the World Meteorological Organization.

With tragic global results.

The extreme heat lead to 400 deaths in the Netherlands, more than 18,000 hospitalizations in Japan, and put 169 million people on alert in the U.S.

In Sacramento, excessive heat warnings were issued in August and at-risk individuals were cautioned to find shelter: Rancho Cordova City Hall became a temporary cooling center, while Sacramento and Solano Counties encouraged the use of libraries, city pools, and community centers.

Extreme heat puts Sacramento residents at risk for personal health effects, including:

  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Heat exhaustion
  • Heat stroke

Warmer temperatures also expand the range of vector-borne diseases — resulting from infections transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and other blood-feeding organisms — such as Lyme disease, West Nile virus, dengue fever, and hantavirus.

Make a Difference

Cooling solutions may help mitigate the extreme heat of climate change in the Sacramento region. More trees, green roofs, and electric vehicles are all solutions used to combat heat. 

Something as small as planting more trees around your home could help in the fight against rising temperatures.

The Sacramento Tree Foundation and SMUD partnership are combating extreme heat by offering up to 10 free trees with the Sacramento Shade program to help cool homes and improve air quality. 

The program also offers free trees for public spaces, like schools, parks, streets, and other public spaces. 

Trees are planted from October - March, so now’s the perfect time to apply for free trees for your favorite public place.

Reduced Water Supply

It may feel like our Sacramento region drought issues are in the past. Warmer winters are leading to more precipitation falling as rain instead of snow.

But warmer weather and increased precipitation is leading to accelerated melting of the Sierra snowpack, which has been declining over the past 50 years.

What’s more, earlier melting of the Sierra Nevada snowpack decreases water quality and availability in critical summer months.

Make a Difference

The City of Sacramento instituted a two-day a week watering schedule for all utilities customers over the summer.

The City Dep. of Utilities began installing water meters in 2017 as part of its Meters Matter program, which will continue through 2020.

Residents are encouraged to take small steps to conserve water at home, such as:

  • Shorten showers - use a Watersense shower head and shower timer
  • Turn off water when brushing teeth
  • Fix leaky faucets and toilets
  • Updating toilets and clothes washers 

Increased Wildfire Threats

Combine extreme temperatures and water shortages, and you’ve got a recipe for wildfire disaster.

Northern California wildfires have been steadily increasing in number, size, and devastating scope year after year.

Not only do wildfires lead to an incredible loss of property and — in many horrifying cases — life, they also contribute to increased climate consequences. 

Wildfires result in enormous amounts of hazardous air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions, damage watersheds and habitats, increase landslide risks, and threaten vital infrastructure.

Make a Difference

While wildfires rarely begin in urban areas, practicing wildfire safety is just as important in a downtown residence as it is for a wildland residence.

Reduce your wildfire risk:

  • Keep your property lean and green
  • Remove dead plants, grass and weeds
  • Trim trees regularly
  • Utilize fire-resistant plants for landscaping

Sacramento Fights Climate Change with 2040 General Plan Update

The Sacramento City General Plan was last updated almost 10 years ago. The city and community needs have significantly changed since then, and Sacramento is updating its General Plan to better reflect the needs of the fastest growing big city in California during a time of intense climate change.

The 2040 General Plan Update objectives for the community include:

  • Ensuring that growth in Sacramento is equitable, inclusive, and sustainable
  • Creating healthier communities, building community resilience, and helping the City meet the needs of our most vulnerable communities (SB 1000)
  • Incorporating climate adaptation and resiliency strategies (SB 379) into the City’s key policy documents
  • Creating a first class, efficient, multi-modal transportation system that can transform mobility for Sacramento residents, business employees, and visitors alike, including the use of
  • Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) as a metric to measure traffic impacts (SB 743)
  • Fostering Transit Oriented Development (TOD) in appropriate locations
  • Taking steps to make Sacramento more livable and accessible for people of all ages, including youth and seniors. 

The guiding vision of the 2035 General Plan is that Sacramento will be the most livable city in America. 

Which means Sacramento needs to make climate change a priority.

Climate change is a global phenomenon that is causing major impacts to lives and economies throughout the world. 

“In order to reduce our emissions globally, we all need to play our part in reducing local greenhouse gas emissions. As we reduce our emissions, we also need to prepare and plan for the risks ahead. The Sacramento region is already experiencing major impacts from climate change and will continue to experience increased occurrences of wildfire, drought, flooding, extreme heat, and other climate related impacts.” - City of Sacramento

How Does the 2040 General Plan Update Address Climate Change?

The City first adopted a Climate Action Plan (CAP) in 2012. Three years later it was incorporated into the 2035 General Plan. 

As part of the Sacramento 2040 process, the CAP will be revived, provding an over-arching framework for community wide greenhouse gas reduction and help to establish Sacramento a leader on climate action.

In addition to updating the Climate Action Plan through the General Plan Update process, Mayor Steinberg and Mayor Cabaldon are leading the Mayors’ Commission on Climate Change to develop a common vision and set of strategies for both cities to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions, referred to as Carbon Zero, by 2045. 

Be a Part of Climate Change Solutions in Sacramento

The City of Sacramento wants your participation.

In the spring of 2019, the City held 3 citywide workshops to kick-off the General Plan updates and Climate Action Plan. During July and August of 2019, the City of Sacramento held events throughout the community. 

If you were unable to attend one of those in-person events or workshops, you can still participate by hosting your own discussion about how to make Sacramento the Most Liveable City in America.

Get a free Meeting-in-a-Box that provides all of the materials you need to host a meeting with your friends, neighbors, or coworkers at your convenience.

You have until September 20, 2019 to return your materials to the City and be a part of addressing climate change — and other critical issues — in Sacramento.

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