San Dieguito River Valley ConservancySan Dieguito
River Valley Conservancy

Climate Change and Human Impacts on Animals


California has experienced many droughts throughout its history, but in recent years the California droughts have been more frequent and have lasted longer. The last major California drought started in 2014 when Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency and ordered mandatory conservation of water for the state. Research has shown that increased amounts of carbon dioxide from human activity is changing the climate, and impacts like warming temperatures, changes in wind and precipitation patterns, and more extreme storms make it difficult for animals and people to adapt. Changes in temperature and precipitation, like the ones seen in California in recent years, not only have an impact on humans, but animals as well. 

As temperatures increase in places like southern California, animals are not able to simply turn on the air conditioning or take off their pelt or fur. So when areas get too hot for animals to live comfortably, they must migrate to find a new home that is cooler and has water. We see animals and plants do this as they move to higher altitudes to reach cooler temperatures. Increased temperatures not only make areas uncomfortable to live in, but can also increase the risk of drought. With hotter, drier conditions, regions can be more prone to wildfires, especially in the summer and fall here in Southern California. Wildfires can start naturally or can be human-caused, and force animals and people to relocate to find new homes, and affect air quality making it more difficult to breathe. Finally, habitat fragmentation as a result from building roads and increasing development is affecting the amount of space animals have to live. Scientists are studying how to help animals move across the landscape to get the resources they need (food, water, mates) in order to survive.To learn more about Climate Impacts to San Diego and what this will mean for humans and wildlife, please visit: