California is in danger of losing the farms and vineyards that make it such a lush state, according to the Secretary of Energy.
Steven Chu, the Nobel-prize winning scientist named to the cabinet post by President Barack Obama, said in his first interview since taking office that the Golden State faces such a dire threat from climate change that its cities could become unlivable, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He said the greenery could all be gone by the end of this century.
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“I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” Chu said in the paper. “We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California.” He added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.
Chu told the Times that a worst case scenario could involve up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappearing, which would devastate a natural storage system for water needed by agriculture.
California, Chu’s home state, is the nation’s leading producer of agriculture has 88,000 farms and ranches contributing to a $36.6 billion dollar industry that generates $100 billion in related economic activity, according to the state’s Department of Food and Aggriculture.
Chu said he sees public education as a key part of the administration's strategy to fight global warming -- along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the LA Times reported.
Comparing the situation to a family living in an old house which needs expensive electrical work before it burns down, Chu said, "I'm hoping that the American people will wake up [and pay the cost of rewiring.]”