A futuristic, comprehensive environmental plan for Los Angeles has been drawn up at UCLA. It’s known as the Sustainable L.A. Grand Challenge.
It is being hailed as a call to action for groundbreaking intervention that could forge a more sustainable path forward for the great L.A. basin.
Several years ago, a climate modeler named Alex Hall, working in the Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences department of UCLA, created a map of the future.
By synthesizing multiple global weather models, Hall constructed a high-resolution climate map of California’s greater Los Angeles, as it might appear in the years 2050 and 2100.
His projections confirmed environmentalists’ worst fears of the failure to take serious action to combat climate change.
The map showed an increase in average temperature of four to five degrees and, in some areas, extreme heat spells of more than 95 degrees for at least 100 days a year.
The same factors would also lead to a decrease in mountain snow pack in northern California — essential to L.A’.s water supply — and a dangerous increase in wildfires.
Looking at the environmental challenges the metropolitan area faces now and into the future, UCLA scholars across a broad range of disciplines have come together in an ambitious, multi-pronged and deeply optimistic effort to forge a more sustainable path forward for L.A.
The campus-wide initiative aims to improve L.A.’s ecosystems and enable the region to be 100% reliant on renewable energy and local water by the year 2050.
The plan will not only help the city thrive and shield the population from the most dire implications of Hall’s forecast, but it will also serve as a model for tackling complex urban climate adaptation issues throughout the rest of the state, nation and other cities around the world.
“We first started talking about this in 2012 and now it might not sound as audacious as it did then,” Mark Gold, associate vice chancellor for environment and sustainability at UCLA and lead for the Grand Challenge said.
Grand Challenge envisions transitioning the electric grid to rely solely on renewable power, such as wind and solar.
Seven years ago, L.A. counted on fossil fuels, including coal and natural gas, for around 60% of its energy, with renewable sources supplying only 20%.
“In California, the legislature recently passed Senate Bill 100, which was signed into law by former Governor (Jerry) Brown last year and has the goal of 100% carbon-free energy by 2045,” Gold said.
His team’s strategy undergirds the new statewide commitment with practical solutions.
UCLA scientists are using nano engineering to develop new solar panel arrays that more efficiently collect solar heat and visible light. Another project focuses on how boosting renewable use will mitigate climate change and lower pollution.
L.A. city imports roughly 90% of its water from more than 200 miles away. The Grand Challenge’s other key focus is shifting an arid city to 100% local water.
Leaders in the Antelope Valley, which lies in North L.A. County and East Kern County, should borrow the accumulated data and futuristic proposals to prevent the dire consequences of climate change in the high desert.
The UCLA scientists should be highly commended for drawing up practical plans that may save the Southern California landscape so that future generations can enjoy the region’s climate and terrain.
Many years ago, this region was enthusiastically labeled as the nation’s “paradise,” leading to the magnetic attraction of the millions who populate our cities and rural areas.