Climate Change

Building Resiliency to Climate Change

Climate change is a global issue that poses a direct threat to our quality of life. The earth’s temperature is steadily rising, impacting our planet’s people, wildlife, and natural ecosystems. By protecting open spaces and the natural resources within them, the Authority can help human and natural communities become more resilient to climate change. 

What Causes Climate Change?

Climate change happens as a result of the "greenhouse gas effect" which causes the Earth’s temperature to increase. Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide create a blanket around the Earth and prevent the loss of heat to space. Human activity has accelerated the greenhouse gas effect with the burning of fossil fuels.

The Authority participates in the Climate and Agriculture Preservation Program that aims to
protect agricultural lands in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Local Effects of Climate Change

Conservative climate change scenarios predict that, within the Santa Clara County, the temperature will increase 3.6 to 10.8℉ by the end of the century, altering vegetation patterns and negatively affecting wildlife habitats (Ekstrom and Moser 2012). Climate change will cause a shift in plants and animals, some favoring the new climate conditions while others will be forced to seek higher elevations. Higher temperatures and drier conditions are likely to increase the intensity and frequency of wildfires. Changes in rainfall will likely increase both drought and flooding – affecting urban areas, aquatic ecosystems, and water supply (PRBO Conservation Science 2011). Within the Authority’s jurisdiction, much of the urban development is in flood-risk areas that are already built out and therefore cannot adapt to larger flood events.

Recently-burned hills stretching into distance with blue sky overhead
Close-up of two mountain lions nuzzling heads
Overflowing stream flooding onto road

Our Approach

To include climate change impacts in every conservation decision, the Authority uses Climate-Smart Principles* to guide efforts. By protecting large, interconnected landscapes, focusing on water resources, and planning for extremes, the Authority can help build in resilience to help natural and human communities adapt.

Learn more about climate change in the Santa Clara Valley Greenprint.

Climate Change

*Developed by the Bay Area Ecosystems Climate Change Consortium

Climate-Smart Principles

  1. Focus goals on future conditions – consider extremes and projections.
  2. Design actions in ecosystem context – consider ecosystem function, multiple benefits, and broad geographic scope.
  3. Employ adaptive and flexible approaches – monitor, learn what works, and reassess to adapt to change.
  4. Prioritize actions – based on science, multiple scenarios, and across species.
  5. Collaborate and communicate across sectors – partner to learn quickly, solve problems, and share knowledge.
  6. Practice the 10% rule – spend 10% of your time on creative new approaches.
Laguna Seca wetland full of water with green hills in the background and blue skies
Hands holding a large brown frog
Mother in blue shirt and checkered skirt pointing something out to toddler in orange shirt sitting on rocks