LOS ANGELES (CN) – Natural disasters across Southern California need to be addressed immediately through emergency measures, according to a Los Angeles city councilman who has proposed creating a department to make reducing greenhouse gas emissions throughout the city a top priority.
Being called the first of its kind, the proposed department would fight the causes of climate change and take a proactive approach to climate disasters in the city of Los Angeles.
Wednesday’s proposal from Los Angeles Councilman Paul Koretz would form a Climate Emergency Mobilization Department.
“Without an immediate and drastic change from the status quo, humans will cause irreversible and ever-worsening damage to the Earth’s climate,” Koretz said outside City Hall on a warm January morning.
Corralling the city’s resources to combat climate change is nothing new for Los Angeles, which already has sustainability officers in place. But the proposed department would oversee reduction goals, explore funding measures and make mitigating climate change a priority for City Hall.
The proposal comes more than a month after 200,000 residents fled their homes due to wildfires in Southern California. Record low rainfall and snowpack in the south state were also highlighted by conservation groups who joined Koretz in his call to form the new department.
“We must immediately adopt the many legal and technological tools available today to greatly reduce dangerous and planet-warming pollution,” said Maya Golden-Krasner, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.
“But we also need to develop ways to mitigate the harms of climate change, especially in communities with fewer resources to cope with droughts, heat waves and fires.”
Stephen LaDochy, professor with geosciences and environment department at California State University, Los Angeles, said addressing climate change head on will be harder to avoid in the future, as more impacts are felt across the region.
LaDochy says there is a direct connection between natural disasters and human-made pollution. Rising temperatures, shorter rain seasons and mudslides are all connected to climate change, he said.
“Emergency officials issued evacuation warnings after the wildfires due to the mudslides and some lives were saved, some died as a result,” said LaDochy. “The same thing could happen with sea levels and high tides, with evacuation warnings for coastal communities. If not today, then soon enough.”
Earlier this month, Los Angeles Councilman Mike Bonin asked the City Attorney’s office to look into suing oil and gas companies for the damages they have caused to the environment. If filed, LA’s lawsuit would join others filed against Big Oil by states and cities across the nation.
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