Governor: Climate Change Challenge Equivalent to World War II

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Gov. Jerry Brown speaks to the conference at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Gov. Jerry Brown told climate scientists at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Tuesday that addressing climate change is the moral equivalent to building the atomic bomb first in World War II.

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He likened the “existential threat” of climate change to Nazi Germany, and noted that California’s universities managed the national laboratories that built the bomb 70 years ago.

“That’s a good predicate to how to deal with the existential threat of climate change,” he said. “I can’t emphasize enough how important the University of California is in meeting this existential threat.”

Brown spoke at the two-day UC Summit on Carbon and Climate Neutrality, a gathering of climate scientists from around the nation with a goal of developing ten solutions to slow climate change.

The governor’s comments come just weeks after he signed signed legislation mandating that half of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030, and he expressed confidence that California can lead the way on solar power, electric cars and other new technologies.

“All the things that skeptics say are bad, California is doing. And the results show they’re good,” he said.

But he warned that there remains serious opposition to dealing with climate change. “We are up against very powerful opposition: partisan, industrial and media,” he said.

One goal of the conference is to showcase progress being made at Scripps and other University of California institutions at developing responses to climate change.

“Many climate change solutions are emerging out of research at the University of California and we want to share them with the world,” said University of California President Janet Napolitano. “Together, we can present an inspiring, pragmatic path forward to counter the doom and gloom and the equivocating that stop us from taking action.”

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