"I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen," Chu said. "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."
The Nobel Prize-winning physicist said California would suffer some of the most devastating effects if the United States did not act to slow the advance of global warming. In a worst case, up to 90% of the Sierra snowpack could disappear, Chu said, all but eliminating the natural water-storage system that feeds the state’s agricultural valleys. California is home to a US$35 billion farm industry, which produces more than half of the country’s fruits, vegetables and nuts.
Chu, who is renowned for his work on clean energy, is a key figure in president Barack Obama’s plan to fight climate change by promoting alternative, renewable energy and cutting use of fossil fuels that produce heat-trapping greenhouse gases.
California’s farmers currently face a third straight year of drought due to low Sierra snow levels. Chu also warned of water shortages for the rest of the American west and upper Midwest.
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