Park on California as Ground Zero for Climate Disaster

Assistant Professor of Public Policy R. Jisung Park spoke to the New York Times for a story about the engineering and land management innovations that led to California’s tremendous growth but also left it vulnerable to climate disaster. For generations, the state has moved vast quantities of water and suppressed wildfires to transform its arid and mountainous landscape into the “richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation,” the article noted. While these accomplishments reflect the optimism that defines California, Park said, they were not designed to accommodate the increasingly harsh extremes of climate change. “The shocks are outside the range, in many cases, of historical experience,” he said. Park also noted that California’s engineered landscapes are not the only factor behind its high-impact disasters. The state’s size, geographic diversity and large population also expose it to an unusually wide range of extreme climate events.

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