Earlier this week, The Hamilton Project at Brookings and the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment hosted a forum and released new papers highlighting opportunities for improving water management in the United States in the face of scarce water supplies. More than 70 percent of the western United States is experiencing drought conditions, with California enduring losses to its agricultural sector of $2.2 billion this year.
California Governor Jerry Brown delivered featured remarks on the landscape of water in the West and discussed his state’s “Water Action Plan.” Watch his remarks below:
“I’m confident that just as California has led the way in renewable energy and initiatives regarding climate change, we can do the same thing with water,” the governor said. Continuing:
We’re in the arid West. We’re facing more drought, we’re facing more extreme weather events, we’re facing sea level rise, but we can respond to it. We can respond but only by bringing both parties together, regions north and south, different aspects of the state economy—agriculture, environment, urban businesses and users—all that has to come together. It’s a real challenge that will test our governing system. So far our governing system is holding, but in the next few years we’re going to have to meet even more difficult tests.
The governor’s remarks were preceded by a welcome from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and an introduction by former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert E. Rubin. Two roundtable discussions—one on how the market can mitigate water shortages in the American West and the other on water innovation—and a moderated discussion on the impact of climate change on America’s water resources, followed. Closing remarks were provided by Steven Denning, chairman of General Atlantic and chairman of the board of Stanford University. Audio and video of all the remarks and discussions are available on the event’s webpage.
The Hamilton Project and Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment released three new papers in conjunction with the event:
In Times of Drought: Nine Economic Facts about Water in the United States
by Melissa S. Kearney, Benjamin H. Harris, and Brad Hershbein
Shopping for Water: How the Market Can Mitigate Water Shortages in the American West
by Peter W. Culp, Robert Glennon, and Gary Libecap
The Path to Water Innovation
by Newsha K. Ajami, Barton H. Thompson Jr., and David G. Victor
[On the politics of climate impacts in the U.S.] The political alignment around climate impacts is almost the exact opposite of the political alignment around emissions control.
[On the geographic distribution of climate impacts in the U.S.] The damages to the Republican-electing congressional districts is almost double what it is for the Democratic-voting districts.
[On Brookings research on climate impacts and human health] When you look at the out years, all of these factors have an impact on what people care about, but the really dominant effect is mortality. Literally, there’ll be climate change killing people.