California is in danger of losing the farms and vineyards that make it such a lush state, according to the Secretary of Energy.
Steven Chu, the Nobel-prize winning scientist named to the cabinet post by President Barack Obama, said in his first interview since taking office that the Golden State faces such a dire threat from climate change that its cities could become unlivable, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He said the greenery could all be gone by the end of this century.
“I don't think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” Chu said in the paper. “We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California.” He added, "I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going" either.
Chu told the Times that a worst case scenario could involve up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappearing, which would devastate a natural storage system for water needed by agriculture.
California, Chu’s home state, is the nation’s leading producer of agriculture has 88,000 farms and ranches contributing to a $36.6 billion dollar industry that generates $100 billion in related economic activity, according to the state’s Department of Food and Aggriculture.
Chu said he sees public education as a key part of the administration's strategy to fight global warming -- along with billions of dollars for alternative energy research and infrastructure, a national standard for electricity from renewable sources and cap-and-trade legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions, the LA Times reported.
Comparing the situation to a family living in an old house which needs expensive electrical work before it burns down, Chu said, "I'm hoping that the American people will wake up [and pay the cost of rewiring.]”