WASHINGTON - Gov. Jerry Brown urged the nation's governors today to take action to combat climate change, warning weak environmental policies could prove catastrophic.
"I know there's not a lot of policy action going on in most places, but this is a real problem," Brown said at a meeting of the National Governors Association. "We know we're playing Russian Roulette with our climate, and I believe we have to take action."
In his only formal speaking engagement of the weekend, the Democratic governor distributed to other governors a copy of a December report by White house science adviser John Holdren.
"It's clear, it lays stuff out," Brown said. "You see there's real harm."
Brown, who has promoted alternative energy since he was governor before, from 1975 to 1983, touted his effort to expand the state's reliance on renewable electricity, including a requirement that utilities obtain one-third of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020.
"But we can't do it alone," Brown said. "We need other states. America can't do it alone. We need China, we need India."
Brown's remarks came at a committee meeting focused on extreme weather events. Many conservatives believe the effect of global warming is overstated, and they argue stringent environmental regulations have hurt economic growth in California.
Brown said California is facing early snow melts and a longer fire season, and he said a rising sea level threatens the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
"This is a serious problem," Brown said. "If people don't believe in the science, we ought to debate it. But at some point, we've got to talk about what do we do. Because just like the debt that's piling up and at some point becomes absolutely unsustainable, the debt of carbon buildup will become unsustainable."
Brown said, "It's the responsible thing to do to take prudent action now."