Scientists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography said Tuesday the conclusions of the third National Climate Assessment are fair warning that society will have to adapt to climate change.

“We’re committed to a certain amount of climate change whatever we do, and we’re going to have to adapt. We’re going to have to learn how to live with it,” said Dan Cayan, a climate researcher at Scripps and one of the authors of the national report.

Dan Cayan, climate researcher at Scripps Institution of Oceanograhy and UC San Diego. Photo by Chris Jennewein

“There is a cascade of evidence that is confirming that we have human-caused climate change,” he added.

Scripps scientists who were among the authors spoke at the press conference following release of the climate assessment in Washington. They ticked off a long list of the effects of climate change, including higher sea levels, coastal erosion, increasing acidity of the ocean, drought and extreme weather.

Lynn Russell, professor of atmospheric chemistry, was one of the authors of the chapter in the assessment focusing on how humans can adapt to climate change.

“Adaptation is much more front and center in this report,” she explained, adding that she specifically investigated technologies for removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and, more exotically, limiting sunlight.

Joining the Scripps scientists was Catherine Kuhlman, deputy secretary for ocean and coastal policy at the California Natural Resources Agency. She said California is working on regional responses to climate change.

“California has been a leader in reducing carbon emissions, and now we are turning full attention to how we respond to climate change,” she said. “The science is clear that we are obliged to act now.”

The secretary of the resources agency, John Laird, was at Cal Fire headquarters in San Diego Tuesday to warn of the possibility of an unprecedented wildfire season because of the statewide drought.

Cayan said understanding and adapting to climate change will be a long process. “There will be generations of scientists who take this on,” he said.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.