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Global warming, local politics

Mayors are accountable to their constituents for the annoyances of everyday life in a way congressmen, senators and presidents aren't. And for many urban dwellers, climate change will expand the list of inconveniences that burden day-to-day life — higher summertime electric bills, for instance, or more frequent restrictions on water use.

"Climate change is a profoundly local issue," says Paul Bunje, executive director of the Center for Climate Change Solutions at UCLA. "Cities are at the front lines of dealing with (the impacts.) Nothing happens at the federal level, or at Rio. Mayors are more responsive because it matters to people that live (in their cities.)"

Adds Alex Hall, a climate modeler and professor of atmospheric and oceanic science at UCLA: "It's not the end of the earth. It's just a problem like any other to deal with."

Since global climate models don't project impacts at a scale that's useful to local policy makers, to help frame the climate problem in practical terms, Hall and a team of researchers have undertaken a groundbreaking series of studies that project the impacts of climate change on Los Angeles and its environs neighborhood by neighborhood over the next 30 to 50 years. The fine-scale modeling being done for SoCal is extremely expensive and a young science — according to Bunje, Hall is one of only a few modelers in the world with the expertise to do it. "Regional downscaling of this sort is still a relatively rare phenomenon in the climate community," says Bunje. "We just happened to have someone in this region who is an expert at it."

To read the full article by Cally Carswell click here.