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Breaking News: Climate Change Projections Predict Major Population Decline in Whittier

By Rebecca Canales, Whittier 360 News Network

Whittier, CA – In a stunning development, new projections from climate scientists indicate that Whittier is set to experience a significant population decline over the next 30 to 40 years due to the impacts of climate change. According to the latest official American Community Survey (ACS) data for 2024, Whittier's population has decreased to 81,986 from 87,000 in the 2020 census, with many former residents citing increasing temperatures as a primary factor in their decision to leave.

According to the app Future Urban Climates, Whittier's climate is undergoing rapid changes, becoming more akin to that of Rialto. The app projects that Whittier's temperatures will soon be nearly 8 degrees warmer than they are today, with summer temperatures already reaching the 90s. Additionally, the city is expected to experience an 18% increase in summer humidity and winters that are 5.6 degrees warmer and 10% wetter.

These climatic changes are anticipated to significantly alter local weather patterns, making Whittier less habitable and prompting more residents to move out. Projections suggest that Whittier could lose an additional 10,000 to 15,000 residents over the next few decades if current climate trends continue. The impact is not confined to Whittier alone; neighboring cities and communities are projected to share Whittier's fate, leading to broader regional challenges.

The looming climate crisis brings into sharp focus the ongoing Greenleaf Promenade Plan, which calls for the removal of nearly all the Ficus trees on Greenleaf Avenue. With temperatures rising and humidity increasing, the removal of trees—an essential component in regulating urban temperatures and providing shade—could exacerbate the already worsening climate conditions.

Additionally, the Greenleaf Promenade Project's potential impacts extend beyond the immediate urban area. Experts warn that reduced tree cover and increased heat could affect nearby natural areas such as Legg Lake and Whittier Narrows. These areas, vital for recreation and local biodiversity, could experience increased evaporation rates caused by heightened temperatures and altered ecosystems, further diminishing their appeal and usability for residents. It could also result in greater concentrations of toxins in the local water supply.

Experts warn that an unmodified Greenleaf Promenade Project could further accelerate the population decline. Without incorporating measures to mitigate the soaring temperatures and increased humidity, the project could make the climate even worse than currently projected. This could potentially lead to an even steeper population decline as the city becomes increasingly uninhabitable.

To address these concerns, the Whittier City Council and project planners are urged to reconsider the current plans for Greenleaf Promenade. By integrating climate adaptation strategies, such as retaining and planting more mature trees and enhancing green spaces, the city can better manage the escalating temperatures and humidity. Such measures are crucial for maintaining a livable environment and preventing further population loss.

As Whittier grapples with these daunting projections, the urgency for sustainable urban planning has never been more critical. The decisions made today will shape the city's future resilience to climate change and determine its ability to retain its residents.

For ongoing updates on this developing story, stay tuned to Whittier 360 News Network.

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