Climate Mitigation and Adaptation News
August 26, 2015
A biweekly newsletter of the Climate Readiness Collaborative

Californians often pride themselves on their agricultural bounty, and rightly so. California farmers provide not just in-state residents but the U.S. and the world with leafy greens, tomatoes, berries, avocados, citrus, almonds, and more. As the farm-to-fork capital, the capital region produces everything from rice to wine grapes. But the drought is taking a severe toll: according to the latest research from UC Davis, in 2015 California's agricultural economy will lose about $1.84 billion and 10,100 seasonal jobs from the drought. Whether it's water shortages or shifting temperatures, our changing climate requires agriculture to seek out new strategies to adapt and remain resilient. Read on to learn more about the challenges and solutions for California farmers.
News and Research
Agriculture's global dilemma
We are trapped in a vicious cycle: we will need to grow 50% more food by 2050 to feed 9 billion people but agriculture also generates 25% of global greenhouse gas emissions and is itself vulnerable to climate change. The more we grow using conventional methods, the more we exacerbate the problem. To overcome these challenges, agriculture must be a part of any global climate treatment emerging from the UN conferences; more research into new technology and innovations is needed; and water efficiency must improve. (Guardian)
Silicon Valley courts Central Valley farmers on new agricultural technologies
Photo: Tomas Ovalle
The next generation of precision agriculture - a world of wireless sensors, cloud-based data crunching, aerial imaging and app-based decision-making - may germinate in Silicon Valley, but it will have to win over Central Valley farmers first, who may be more resistant to new technologies and costly investments. Farmers and techies don't speak the same language, and new technologies may be too expensive for all but the largest farms. (LA Times)
California farmers switching to less-thirsty plants
Photo: Lesley McClurg/Capital Public Radio
Water scarcity is driving California farmers to switch to crops that require less water, in order to remain profitable as water prices go up. Historically, citrus and avocados have been the leading crops in San Diego County, but now growers are switching to grapes, persimmons, pomegranates, and dragonfruit, which use very little water. (NPR)
Salt is slowly crippling California's almond industry
Photo: Ezra Romero for NPR
Because more growers this year are relying on groundwater, which has higher salinity than surface water, California's almond trees are getting more salt than is healthy. The trees are also being watered at a minimum level. As a result, California almond yields are expected to decline 4 percent this year. Farm advisors in the region are working to help growers, and the Almond Board of California is funding research on the impacts of salinity on almond tree growth and productivity. (NPR)

California's Central Valley sinking fast

Photo: Richard Thornton/
Groundwater pumping - which has escalated with the drought - is causing the worst subsidence in the Central Valley in 50 years. Sinking land is already causing millions of dollars of damage to bridges, sinking buildings, damaging highways, and cracking irrigation canals. Unfortunately, the full extent of the problem is unknown, due to the lack of measurement and monitoring around the state. Some towns are sinking as much as 1 to 2 feet each year, but even if groundwater pumping stopped immediately, aquifers have already been drained enough as to continue triggering subsidence for years and decades to come. (Link)

Using insurance to reduce climate shocks on the global food supply

A test scenario by Lloyd's of London analyses a potential future in which floods, droughts, and rising temperatures cripple the world's food supply and trigger chain reactions across multiple sectors of society. Climate change will decrease agriculture and fishery yields around the world, and dramatic shocks to the global food system are unlikely but possible. However, insurers are examining developing insurance programs for farmers in developing countries or using insurance to encourage policyholders to undertake adaptation efforts. Insurance could help farmers receive loans to improve their farms, for example. (Lloyd's)
A new ally for food security and agricultural resilience: bacteria
Photo: Esther Ngumbi
As climate change threatens global food security, soil bacteria could be a key solution that improves resilience to drought, high temperatures, flooding, decreased soil health, and other challenges. This is an emerging area of research with great potential; new studies show that healthy communities of beneficial microbes can help increase growth and yields, control pests, support healthy root systems in times of water scarcity, increase nutrient absorption, and more.  (Scientific American)
Eight foods we may lose to climate change
The future looks darker for chocoholics and caffeine addicts, as coffee and cacao are among the most sensitive crops to changes in temperature, precipitation, and crop pests. Decreased yields in staple foods like corn and beans will have much bigger impacts on the global food system and food security. Shifts in agricultural regions will also have an effect for wine, with many famed wine areas becoming no longer suitable for wine grapes. (Guardian)
Climate change will make food taste worse
Photo: David Monniaux
From grains to dairy to meat and produce, climate change's effects on the quality, cost, and taste of 55 household foods have been compiled for the very first time. Though the study is on Australian farms, impacts like heat waves and drought are shared with California. Key findings include decreased dairy yields, less flavorful carrots, which do not enjoy warm temperatures, and reduced grazing and increased heat stress for livestock. (Phys)
Bumble bee disappearing due to climate change
Unlike other species, bumble bees are failing to shift their habitat in response to climate change, according to a new study. Studying decades of observations for 67 species of bumble bees in North America, scientists found that bumble bees are disappearing from the southern edge of their historic ranges, but are failing to expand north. Bees are vital species and pollinators for wild plants and agriculture, and their disappearance could trigger effects for a wide range of other species. (Guardian)
Climate change threatens not only food security but food distribution
Storm surges, floods, and other extreme weather pose threats to the modern food distribution systems, which rely on long-distance transportation, centralized wholesale markets, and concentrated food production sources. Food distribution is not part of USDA's responsibility, but some cities and states are taking action. The City of Boston includes a food resilience study in its Climate Action Plan and is analyzing its dependence on distant food sources. Most of the 5.7 million tons of food that arrives in New York annually pass through, via trucking, one distribution center located within a 100-year floodplain. Centralization brings efficiency, but now cities are looking to diversifying supply, especially from local and regional sources. (Link)   
Raley's fighting climate change with ugly vegetables and fruit
Photo: Cynthia E. Wood/KQED
Some 20 percent of fresh fruit and vegetables never make it from the field into the store because they are "cosmetically challenged" and end up in landfill. However, food waste increases GHG emissions and wastes water and energy. Imperfect Produce is working to change that through low-cost CSAs and partnering with Raley's to sell "ugly" fruit and vegetables at 10 stores. (KQED)
Resources and Tools
Guide to Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund Program Designs, Expenditures, and Benefits for Disadvantaged Communities
The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (GGRF), funded by rapidly growing revenues from California's cap-and-trade program, present a major new source of funding for state programs that achieve the goals of reducing GHG emissions and providing economic, environmental, and public health co-benefits. This new report from the UCLA Luskin Center will help local governments and community organizations to understand GGRF programs, with a focus on programs targeted to benefit disadvantaged communities, such as transit-oriented affordable housing, financial incentives for clean vehicles, energy efficiency and renewable energy for low-income housing units, and community forestry projects. (UCLA)
Upcoming Opportunities
Sign up for the Cool California challenge!
The CoolCalifornia Challenge is a statewide competition engaging cities to save energy, conserve water, reduce their carbon footprints, and help build more vibrant and sustainable communities. In 2014, 10 cities participating in the Challenge engaged nearly 4,000 households to take simple, everyday actions, saving more than 800,000 pounds of equivalent greenhouse gas emissions. All cities receive prize money based on points. If your city would like to participate in this year's Challenge, please sign up by August 31. (CoolCalifornia)
USDA Innovation Challenge
The USDA Innovation Challenge is seeking applications that help build a sustainable U.S. food system by putting USDA data into the hands of farmers, researchers, and consumers. Given its complexity, agriculture has great potential for the use of big data and analytics, but the data must be accessible and insightful for users. Deadline: November 20, 2015. (More info)
CivicSpark: Helping local governments on climate change and sustainability
CivicSpark is an AmeriCorps initiative that supports local governments in their climate change and sustainability work. In its first year, CivicSpark members have been supporting urban forestry for disadvantaged communities in South Sacramento, building community engagement on climate action in Davis, evaluating the Yolo County climate action plan, and analyzing the regional transportation infrastructure's vulnerabilities to climate risks. If you are a local government looking for additional capacity and support on your climate change projects, please consider hiring a CivicSpark member on a 3- or 6-month, or full-year basis. Learn more about how the program works; applications for the 2015 to 2016 service year are now open. 
Local Government Commission Seeks Regional Coordinators for CivicSpark
CivicSpark is seeking Encore Fellows to serve as Regional Coordinators. Encore Fellowships are paid, time-limited fellowships that match skilled, experienced professionals with social-purpose organizations in high-impact assignments. Each CivicSpark Encore Fellow will spend 1,000 hours over a 13-month period supervising a team of 3-8 AmeriCorps Members, managing partner relationships, and proving support to project management and implementation. Encore Fellows would act as an integral part of the CivicSpark team, supporting the AmeriCorps members and coordinating closely with LGC staff in Sacramento to ensure the program is implemented successfully in the region. We are currently looking for applicants for teams in Fresno, Sacramento, Truckee, and San Luis Obispo. (Application form)
Upcoming Events

Advancing Bicycling in the Capital Region

Wednesday, September 23, 8.30am-5pm

Sheraton Grand Hotel, 1230 J Street, Sacramento

The Local Government Commission, in partnership with the Sacramento Metropolitan AQMD, is organizing a one-day workshop on what can be done to take bicycling to the next level in the Capital Region. Topics include the economic benefits of cycling, advancing bicycling in underserved communities, changing the culture around bicycling, bikeway design best practices, and more. Join us at this workshop and connect with a comprehensive network of leaders who have a strong commitment to advancing bicycling in our region and beyond. Scholarships are available for community organizations, non profit organizations and youth to attend the event. Visit the event website to learn more. (Register

About the Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative

The Capital Region Climate Readiness Collaborative is a membership based collaborative network designed to promote greater climate change resilience planning coordination in the six-county Sacramento Region. The purpose of this collaborative network is to create a forum where leaders from government, academia, environmental and community groups, the business community, and labor can come together to exchange information, identify vulnerabilities and data gaps, leverage resources, and advance comprehensive solutions in an effort to create stronger, sustainable, and economically viable communities in the Sacramento Region.  If you are interested in learning more about the Climate Readiness Collaborative, joining the Collaborative, or being added to the list serve, visit: