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Local experts explain how climate change could affect Ventura County

Ventura County residents know fire, flood, and drought all too well.

Justice for All Ventura County and the Ventura County Community Foundation hosted a recent discussion panel to give interested residents a look at how climate change could affect the county.

Justice for All is a nonprofit focused on social equity, educational justice, economic equity, environmental sustainability, and violence protection. The forum held Feb. 13 at the foundation’s headquarters in Camarillo allowed the community to hear from a panel of experts, including the environmental manager of the Port of Hueneme, Giles Pettifor; physicist and member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Richard Esley; and Sofia Magallon, on behalf of Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.

Carl Morehouse, who spent 17 years on the Ventura City Council and is a member of the Justice for All board, said the crops that flourish in Ventura County can face devastation if it gets too hot.

“How we grow (crops) could change. We could see more hydroponic operations . ., not the wide, open greenery that many people think of when it comes to growing in Ventura County.”

Because the county’s climate is known for being temperate year-round, Morehouse said, a disruption in the weather could drive farmworkers away from the region.

“Those factors are very much intrinsically tied to the agricultural industry,” he said.

Another hot topic was the Port of Hueneme, the largest deep-water harbor between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Pettifor said port officials are on the cusp of starting a multi-year mapping analysis of the facility. That would allow the Port of Hueneme to see which parts of its infrastructure are most susceptible to rising sea levels and if any areas of the port need to be raised.

“The science has been evolving,” Pettifor said. “The way things are looking right now is maybe one foot of sea level rise by 2050 and as much as three feet by 2100. That is what most institutions are planning around.”

The dependence on fossil fuels is a big component of the climate conversation. Although fossil fuel energy has decreased slightly over the years, it remains consistent.

What’s critical on a statewide level, Pettifor said, is the future forecast for electrical demand. Electricity is constantly flowing to homes, businesses, and virtually anywhere that requires the lights to be turned on. The more electricity people are using at any given moment, the higher the demand.

“This is driving some really big conversations around infrastructure,” he said. “The electrical demand forecast for the state is set to increase significantly.”

The hope is to fuel that increased demand with clean energy—with solar and wind as the leading alternatives.

Air, inland, sea, and fishing ports require huge amounts of energy to continue operating. That is why the Port of Hueneme is looking to move away from fossil fuels.

“But technologically, those other sources of fuel are not really ready yet,” Pettifor said. “And the whole world is wrestling with that same challenge.”

At this year’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Ventura, the port rolled out an electric truck, a show of its commitment to the technology.

To sign up for future forums, go to justiceforallvc.org.

 

This article was published by the Camarillo Acorn.

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