Gov. Jerry Brown warned scientists and policymakers Thursday that they are losing the war on climate change and urged them to become advocates for the planet.
"We've got a big challenge. It's daunting," Brown said. "This is not just about science, this is about activism."
A team of climate change experts gave Brown a new, 20-page call to action during a conference at NASA Ames Research Center sponsored by the nonprofit group Sustainable Silicon Valley.
The report, signed by more than 500 scientists, is aimed at providing lawmakers with specific action items. These include ensuring adequate water supplies to major population centers, restoring wetlands, protecting forests, and developing new materials that will curb the release of toxic substances into the environment.
Brown has repeatedly called for revisions in public policy to better address the impacts of the changing climate on the world's economy and environment. At a University of California, Berkeley, commencement Monday, the Democratic governor warned students that climate change will be a greater concern for them than mortgages, debt or war.
Marianna Grossman, president of Sustainable Silicon Valley, opened Thursday's conference, noting that worldwide levels of the chief greenhouse gas that causes global warming have hit a level never before encountered by humans.
Silicon Valley and NASA both tackle "big audacious challenges that are impossible," she said, from sending people into space to creating revolutionary technologies.
"We want to apply that ingenuity to the challenges of the planet," Grossman said.
UC Berkeley biology professor Anthony Barnosky said one solution is to collect a fee from companies that produce fossil fuels. This would force the price of gas and other fuels up, and some of the proceeds from those fees would go to the public to mitigate those increases, he said.
"The problem is that as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, we will keep burning them," he said. "But they're not really cheapest. They only appear to be cheapest because we subsidize them."
The conference focused on how advanced technology and innovation can transform energy, water, transportation and materials to help curb climate change.