Far less settled is how Newsom will fill his administration’s
most important positions regarding state water policy. One of
Newsom’s key tests confronts him immediate: State Water
Resources Control Board Chair Felicia Marcus’ term expires this
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today
released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive
resource and guide for conservation planning in the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050. The framework
provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches
to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape.
A simple web search will pull up nearly a million articles,
videos and photos featuring Frank Gehrke. He’s no fashion icon
like Kim Kardashian or a dogged politician like Gov. Jerry
Brown. But he has broken a lot of news. … For 30 years,
you might have seen Gehrke on TV, the guy trudging through snow
with a measuring pole, talking about how deep the pack is each
winter on the evening news. He retired from his post as the
state’s chief snow surveyor in December, but he’s not letting
go of his snowshoes and skis anytime soon.
An ambitious new multicampus, multipartner consortium led by
the University of California, Davis, and the UC Working Lands
Innovation Center is taking on that challenge with the goal of
finding ways to capture billions of tons of carbon dioxide and
bring net carbon emissions in California to zero by 2045. The
consortium has received a three-year, $4.7 million grant from
the state of California’s Strategic Growth Council to research
scalable methods of using soil amendments — rock, compost and
biochar — to sequester greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide in
The draft legislation compiled by the Department of Water
Resources looks similar to how water leaders described the
measures at a Drought Contingency Plan Steering Committee
meeting last week. … But the legislation as drafted
barely delves into the nitty-gritty details of a far more
complex intrastate agreement that Arizona water users have been
hashing out for months.
As rain continues to pelt Southern California, signs of an
abundance of or even too much water are everywhere: Roads are
flooded, reservoirs are filling and the wait time for Radiator
Springs Racers at the damp Disneyland Resort has been less than
a half hour. But as residents of burn areas evacuate and
even heavier rain is forecast for Thursday, those who watch the
state and local water supplies note that while the drought is
technically over, the need to conserve water is not.
A proposed Colorado River drought plan that will cost well over
$100 million is just the beginning of what’s needed to protect
the over-allocated river, says Bruce Babbitt, the former
governor who rammed through Arizona’s last big water
legislation nearly four decades ago. After Gov. Doug Ducey
urged legislators to “do the heavy lifting” and pass the
proposed drought-contingency plan for the Colorado, Babbitt
said Monday that authorities will have to start discussing a
much longer-term plan immediately after it’s approved.
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California …
began what is being referred to as “defensive withdrawals” from
Lake Mead. Remember, Lake Mead is severely low, and if L.A.
takes all of the water they’ve been allotted, it will trigger
emergency supply restrictions for everyone else. So, why are
they doing this with the agreement deadline so close? The Show
turned to Debra Kahn who covers California environmental policy
and broke the story for Politico Pro.
Following one of the hottest and driest years on record, the
Colorado River and its tributaries throughout the western U.S.
are likely headed for another year of low water. That’s
according to a new analysis by the Western Water Assessment at
the University of Colorado Boulder. Researcher Jeff Lukas, who
authored the briefing, says water managers throughout the
Colorado River watershed should brace themselves for diminished
streams and the decreasing likelihood of filling the reservoirs
left depleted at the end of 2018.
Rising sea levels are not only going to increasingly flood
parts of Long Beach, but could leave the most vulnerable
neighborhoods uninhabitable within a generation or two,
according to a city presentation Monday night that drew more
300 residents concerned about the city’s — and their own —
The confluence of California’s two great rivers, the Sacramento
and the San Joaquin, creates the largest estuary on the West
Coast of the Americas. Those of us who live here call it,
simply, the Delta. It is part of my very fiber, and it is
essential to California’s future. That’s why we must save it.
After more than three years, 104 days of testimony, and over
twenty-four thousand pages of hearing transcripts, the hearing
before the State Water Resources Control Board (State Board) on
the proposal to construct two tunnels to convey water under the
Delta (aka California WaterFix) is almost completed.
Probably, that is: there could be more if the project changes
again to a degree that requires additional testimony and/or
Wells are going dry and there are few long-term solutions
available — a common stopgap has been to drill deeper wells.
This is exactly what happened in California’s Central Valley.
The recent drought there prompted drilling of deeper and deeper
water wells to support irrigated agriculture. Groundwater
supplies around the world are being threatened by excessive
pumping, but drilling deeper wells is not a long-term solution.
A better solution is to manage water use and avoid excessive
declines in groundwater levels.
Climate change helped fuel the deadly fires that prompted
California’s largest power company to announce Monday that it
would file for bankruptcy. … In a grim twist, the bankruptcy
of PG&E Corp. could now slow California’s efforts to fight
California began 2019 with lower-than-average snowpack
measurements — just 67 percent of the year-to-date
average. Recent storms pushed that total to 90
percent as of Friday. With more precipitation on the horizon,
forecasters predict snowpack measurements will “meet or exceed”
the year-to-date average by the end of the week.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, if he is to successfully steer the state
into the future, has to bring to his water agenda the same
steely-eyed, reality-based drive that the two previous
governors brought to limiting carbon emissions. It is
time for the state to respond to its water challenge with the
same sense of urgency with which it adopted Assembly Bill 32,
the landmark law capping greenhouse gas emissions, in 2006.
Urban water conservation took a sharp drop in November in
California, with savings of just 7.8 percent compared to
November 2013, the benchmark pre-drought year. That’s down from
13.4 percent savings in October. Statewide, the average
was 86 gallons per capita. In the Sacramento River watershed,
everyone used on average 101 gallons per day; in the Bay Area,
67 gallons; on the South Coast, 86 gallons.
As the Southwest faces rapid growth and unrelenting drought,
the Colorado River is in crisis, with too many demands on its
diminishing flow. Now those who depend on the river must
confront the hard reality that their supply of Colorado water
may be cut off.
Arizona legislators and staff are attending closed-door primers
on water policy in advance of a critical January 31 federal
deadline for the state to approve the Drought Contingency Plan.
The first of three meetings occurred on Friday afternoon and
lasted two and a half hours. The session was led by Central
Arizona Project general manager Ted Cooke and Arizona
Department of Water Resources Director Tom Buschatzke.
Everywhere you look new homes, hotels and master-planned
developments are appearing. It is wise to ask whether we
have enough water for these future desert residents and
visitors. Permits for new projects are under the
jurisdiction of cities or the county — not under the purview of
water agencies. Water agencies are tasked with supplying
the water. Balancing growth and water supplies is nothing new
to desert communities. It has always been a fact of life
in our desert and is one of Desert Water Agency’s most
In an attempt to block the state’s plan to divert more water
toward the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and away from the
Bay Area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has filed a
lawsuit arguing the project could significantly reduce the
local water supply. If the plan advances, the water district
might have to spend millions of dollars to obtain alternate
water supplies and pull up more groundwater.
Climate models using SNOTEL data predict a decline in Western
snowpack. … In December, University of Arizona researchers
presented new on-the-ground findings supporting these
predictions. … In parts of the West, annual snow mass has
declined by 41 percent, and the snow season is 34 days shorter.
Scripps Institute of Oceanography climatologist Amato Evan told
the San Diego Union-Tribune that “climate change in the Western
U.S. is not something we will see in the next 50 years. We can
see it right now.”
When the grapefruit and lemon trees bloom on Jim Seley’s farm,
the white blossoms fill the air with their sweet scent. He and
his son, Mike, manage the business, and they hope to pass it on
to the next generation of Seleys. But the farms of
Borrego Springs, like the town and its golf courses, rely
completely on groundwater pumped from the desert aquifer. And
it’s unclear whether farming will be able to survive in this
part of the Southern California desert west of the Salton Sea
in San Diego County.
The State Water Resources Control Board proved back on Dec. 12
that it wasn’t listening to a single thing anyone from our
region was saying. By voting to impose draconian and
scientifically unjustifiable water restrictions on our region,
four of the five board members tuned out dozens of scientists,
water professionals and people who live near the rivers.
Gov. Doug Ducey will use his fifth State of the State speech
Monday, Jan. 14, to try to corral the votes to approve a
drought-contingency plan in the next 17 days or risk federal
intervention. “We’re in a position now where we have a sense of
urgency and focus on Arizona’s water situation,” the governor
told the business community Friday in previewing the speech
that kicks off the legislative session.
Southern California’s native scrublands are famously tough. …
They evolved along with long, hot summers, at least six
rainless months a year and intense wildfires. But not this much
fire, this often. The combination of too-frequent wildfires and
drought amplified by climate change poses a growing threat to
wildlands that deliver drinking water to millions.
Up against a federal deadline to approve a Colorado River
drought plan — a “generational change” in Arizona water
management — four key legislators say they’re optimistic
they’ll meet it. Led by House Speaker Rusty Bowers, a Mesa
Republican, they see the Legislature as ready — finally — to
officially endorse the plan. That’s even though competing water
interest groups still have highly visible disagreements about
The Colorado River may not look like it, but it’s one of the
world’s largest banks. The river is not only the source of
much of the American West’s economic productivity – San Diego,
Phoenix and Denver would hardly exist without it – but its
water is now the central commodity in a complex accounting
system used by major farmers and entire states. … This
month, the nation’s largest water agency, the Metropolitan
Water District, began what amounts to a run on the bank.
With a federal deadline to sign a Colorado River drought deal
three weeks away, Arizona water managers are still
grappling with several unresolved issues that could get in the
way of finishing an agreement. The outstanding issues,
some of which are proving contentious, range from developers’
concerns about securing future water supplies to lining up
funding for Pinal County farmers to drill wells and begin to
pump more groundwater.
Every winter, forest managers in places like California take a
step back, analyze their budgets and plan on how to deal with
the next fire season. But the government shutdown has shuttered
a lot of those efforts, because federal lands like the U.S.
Forest Service— which has been furloughed since December 22 —
plays a huge role. For example, crews in Redwood National Park
are “just sitting on their hands,” according to University of
California fire advisor Lenya Quinn-Davidson in Humboldt
County, because they can’t work on federal land during the
Registration is now open for the Santa Ana River Watershed
Conference set for March 29 in Fullerton. The daylong
event will be held at Cal State Fullerton. Join us to discuss
the importance of the Santa Ana River Watershed and how,
through powerful partnerships, resilient solutions can be found
to improve the quality and reliability of
the region’s water supply.
Last week, the relicensing effort reached a milestone when FERC
issued its Final Environmental Impact Statement. The
environmental document essentially looks at what changes a
licensee has proposed for a specific project, the impacts of
those changes and provides conditions they must meet if awarded
a new license.
In a 5-3 vote Wednesday that — intriguingly — fell along gender
lines, the Phoenix City Council approved an increase in water
rates, starting next month. “I thank the women to have the
leadership and courage to do the right thing. 5-3,”
Interim Mayor Thelda Williams said. … Wednesday’s
vote overturned the council’s previous rejection of
the proposed increase, on December 12, that was also 5-3.
Officials have given President Trump a plan to divert funds
designated for Army Corps of Engineers projects in California
and Puerto Rico to help pay for a wall along the southern
border, a leading member of Congress said Thursday.
… The projects include raising the height of Folsom Dam
on the American River in Northern California, protecting Lake
Isabella in Kern County from leaking as a result of
earthquakes, enlarging the Tule River and Lake Success in the
Central Valley and building shoreline protections in South San
The city of San Francisco is not standing down in California’s
latest water war, joining a lawsuit against the state on
Thursday to stop it from directing more of the Sierra Nevada’s
cool, crisp flows to fish instead of people.
Mount, a senior fellow at the Water Policy Center at the Public
Policy Institute of California, spoke recently about
managing freshwater systems with ecosystem water budgets. “I
will argue that drought, because of the way we have modified
this system, is the major bottleneck ecologically,” he said.
“Step 1 has to be thinking about drought: how to mitigate
drought and how to deal with drought – that is plan for,
respond to, and recover from drought. We don’t do that at
all, even though we just had this big drought.”
Trump’s latest tweet drew a sharp reaction from state
Republican legislators representing the area around the town of
Paradise, which was mostly incinerated in a wildfire that
killed 86 people and destroyed nearly 14,000 homes. State
Senator Jim Nielsen and Assemblyman James Gallagher said
Trump’s threat to withhold FEMA funds ”is wholly
unacceptable. He made a commitment to the people who have
lost everything in these fires, and we expect the federal
government to follow through with his promise.”
First, the good news: The negotiators of Arizona’s Drought
Contingency Plan have crafted the most detailed, concrete
proposal to date laying out how Arizona will deal
with expected cutbacks to its supply of Colorado
River. Now, the bad: The partial shutdown of the federal
government is squeezing these negotiators.
As his term as governor drew to a close, Jerry Brown brokered a
historic agreement among farms and cities to surrender billions
of gallons of water to help ailing fish. He also made two big
water deals with the Trump administration. It added up to
a dizzying display of deal-making. Yet as Gavin Newsom takes
over as governor, the state of water in California seems as
unsettled as ever.
Cloud seeding has existed for decades, and has significant
traction in other western states such as California, Idaho
and Wyoming. Colorado has only recently joined the cloud
seeding game as the state’s snowpack has declined and the
Colorado River runs dry.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom has named Jared Blumenfeld, a
former Obama administration official and longtime environmental
advocate as the new secretary of the California Environmental
Protection Agency. Blumenfeld, 49, of San Francisco, will run
the agency, known as Cal-EPA, which oversees a broad range of
environmental and public health regulations statewide, on
topics that include air pollution, water pollution, toxics
regulation, pesticides and recycling.
Gov. Doug Ducey used his second inaugural speech Monday to
exhort lawmakers and others with a claim to Colorado River
water to approve a drought contingency plan before a solution
is imposed by the Bureau of Reclamation. “It’s simple: Arizona
and our neighboring states draw more water from the Colorado
River than Mother Nature puts back,” the governor told his
audience. “And with critical shortfall imminent, we cannot kick
the can any further.”
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is seeking to auction off its
Potter Valley Project hydropower plant, which contains two
reservoirs and dams, to a new operator. PG&E cited
increasing operation costs, a competitive energy market and
lower energy generation needs as reasons for its
decision. Questions remain as to what extent Marin County
water supplies will be affected by a potential change in
ownership and operation of the 110-year-old hydropower
plant more than 100 miles to the north.
Forecasters are not being paid. Weather models are not being
maintained, launched or improved. The main impact has been on
the current Global Forecast System, the premier weather model
in the U.S., which is running poorly, and there’s no one on
duty to fix it.
At Monday’s meeting of the Metropolitan Water District’s
Planning & Stewardship Committee, officials said that with no
Drought Contingency Plan in place (Arizona being the hold out),
they are beginning to draw down their storage in Lake
Mead. “If there is no Drought Contingency Plan, we don’t
want to leave potentially half a million acre-feet or more
locked up in Lake Mead if we go into shortage,”
said General Manager Jeff Kightlinger.
Jon Rosenfield: Last month the State Water Resources Control
Board finally required increased flows from three San Joaquin
River tributaries, as the first step in a process to update
water quality standards for the San Francisco Bay
estuary. The board opted for weaker environmental
protections in order to reduce impacts to agribusiness and San
Francisco, ignoring the potential for changed agricultural
practices and investment in sustainable water use to ease or
eliminate the impact of reduced water diversions.
In December, Frank Gehrke retired as chief snow surveyor for
the California Department of Water Resources. He spent much of
his 31 years with the department on skis and snowshoes, in
remote corners of the Sierra Nevada, measuring the “frozen
reservoir” that ultimately provides about a third of
California’s water supply.
The paper, published in the Journal of Environmental
Management, suggests that eliminating outdoor landscaping and
lawns could reduce water waste by 30 percent.
It recommends importing water only when Los Angeles is not
in a drought, to build a surplus of water for dry years. The
paper also argues that groundwater basins that catch stormwater
could be used to recycle water. However, making these
improvements would require the cooperation of more than 100
Crescent City Harbormaster Charlie Helms said he and
commissioners are worried about sediment being deposited in the
marina and the potential impact it could have on the commercial
fleet. A new environmental document predicts the level of
sediment released as a result of dam removal will be similar to
what the river carries downstream during an average year.
At stake is an important rule that defines which waters are
protected under the Clean Water Act. It’s also poised to
be a year of reckoning on the Colorado River, which supplies
water to 40 million people and 5.5 million acres of farmland.
And it could also be a landmark year for water management in
California, with several key issues coming to a head.
Southern Nevadans will see few noticeable consequences from a
soon-to-be-finalized drought contingency plan for states
that get most of their water supply from the Colorado River,
according to a Southern Nevada water resources expert.
As more people build homes in fire-prone areas, and as climate
change and other factors increase the frequency of fires, there
is a growing risk to life and property throughout the West —
and a lesser known risk to the region’s already endangered
water supply. At least 65 percent of the public water supply in
the Western U.S. comes from fire-prone areas.
A team of researchers concludes that the ongoing drought across
the western U.S. rivals most past “megadroughts” dating as far
back as 800 A.D. — and that the region is currently in a
megadrought. Using tree ring data as a proxy for drought
conditions, the researchers say the current drought ranks
fourth worst among comparable 19-year periods of megadroughts
of the past 1,200 years.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource challenges.
These were among the topics that Western Water news explored in 2018.
We’re already planning a full slate of stories for 2019. You can sign up here to be alerted when new stories are published. In the meantime, take a look at what we dove into in 2018:
Each year, several thousand weather forecasters, researchers
and climate scientists from all over the world gather for the
American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting to exchange
ideas to improve weather prediction and understanding of
climate change. This year, due to the partial federal
government shutdown, hundreds of scientists will not attend the
conference set to begin this weekend in Phoenix.
At the confluence of the San Joaquin and Tuolumne rivers, a few
miles west of Modesto, work crews removed or broke several
miles of levee last spring and replanted the land with tens of
thousands of native sapling trees and shrubs. It’s part
of a growing emphasis on reconnecting floodplains to
rivers so they can absorb floodwaters. This shift in
methodology marks a U-turn from past reliance on levees to
protect cities and towns.
In February, following a string of severe natural
disasters in 2017, Congress provided a record $16 billion for
disaster mitigation — building better defenses against
hurricanes, floods and other catastrophes. Eleven months later,
the Trump administration has yet to issue rules telling states
how to apply for the money.
New California Gov. Gavin Newsom has previously said he
favors a scaled-down Delta tunnel project. Whether he
reappoints state water board chair Felicia Marcus will signal
whether he wants the board to stand firm or back down on the
flow requirements. His picks for top posts in the Natural
Resources Agency will determine whether his administration goes
along with a potential weakening of delta protections by the
Trump administration — or fights it.
The growing leadership of women in water. The Colorado River’s
persistent drought and efforts to sign off on a plan to avert
worse shortfalls of water from the river. And in California’s
Central Valley, promising solutions to vexing water resource
challenges. Catch up on these stories and more in Western
Water Year in Review.
In the latter half of 2018, both the federal and state
governments released new climate change assessments that
outline the projected course of climate change and its
potential effects on water resources. At the December meeting
of the California Water Commission, staff from the Department
of Water Resources and the Delta Stewardship Council were on
hand to present an overview of the newly released assessments.
It has been called speculative, foolhardy and overly expensive,
but Aaron Million’s plan to pump water from the Utah-Wyoming
border to Colorado’s Front Range just won’t dry
up. Now seeking water rights from the Green
River in Utah for a new version of his plan, Million thinks he
has fashioned a winning proposal to feed Colorado’s thirsty,
Colorado River water managers were supposed to finish drought
contingency plans by the end of the year. As it looks now,
they’ll miss that deadline. If the states fail to do their job,
the federal government could step in. Luke Runyon, a
reporter with KUNC who covers on the Colorado River Basin
recaps what’s been happening and why it’s so important.
Due to rising average temperatures, snowpacks in the Great
Basin appear to be transitioning from seasonal, with a
predictable amount and melt rate, to “ephemeral,” or
short-lived, which are less predictable and only last up to 60
days. “We might not get as much water into the ground, throwing
off the timing of water for plant root systems, reducing our
supply and use, and even affecting businesses such as tourism,”
says lead researcher Rose Petersky.
The report issued by California’s State Water Resources Control
Board marks a key step in a decade-long effort to remove four
hydroelectric dams and restore the health of the Klamath River.
The dam-removal project is part of a broader effort by
California, Oregon, federal agencies, Klamath Basin tribes,
water users and conservation organizations to revitalize the
basin, advance recovery of fisheries, uphold trust
responsibilities to the tribes, and sustain the region’s
farming and ranching heritage.
At the Groundwater Resources Association’s Western Groundwater
Congress, a panel of experts discussed emerging issues as
agencies work to develop their plans to comply with the
Sustainable Groundwater Management Act, which became law in
California in 2014.
Prompted by the collapse of fish populations, the State Water
Resources Control Board is trying to prevent humans from
totally drying up these rivers each year. The regulators’
lodestar for how much water the rivers need is the amount of
water a Chinook salmon needs to migrate.
There’s every reason to expect that 2019 will be far better,
largely because of Measure W, which was passed by voters in
November. The initiative imposes a Los Angeles County parcel
tax that will generate $300 million per year to reduce
pollution from runoff and capture storm water to add to the
At the end of the last century, the Sierra Nevada captured an
average of 8.76 million acre-feet of water critical to the
nation’s largest food-producing region. By mid-century, a new
study projects, the average will fall to 4 million acre-feet;
and by century’s end, 1.81 million acre-feet.
As stakeholders labor to nail down
effective and durable drought contingency plans for the Colorado
River Basin, they face a stark reality: Scientific research is
increasingly pointing to even drier, more challenging times
The latest sobering assessment landed the day after Thanksgiving,
when U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Fourth National Climate
Assessment concluded that Earth’s climate is changing rapidly
compared to the pace of natural variations that have occurred
throughout its history, with greenhouse gas emissions largely the
As persistent drought and the warming climate are making
wildfire a more frequent and severe threat, the vast extent of
vulnerable communities shows the need for action by state and
local governments, and the communities themselves, to reduce
With the water level in Lake Mead hovering near a point that
would trigger a first-ever official shortage on the Colorado
River, representatives of California, Arizona and Nevada are
trying to wrap up a plan to prevent the water situation from
spiraling into a major crisis. The plan is formally called
the Lower Basin Drought Contingency Plan.
The snow season, which started this month, is off to a good
start. A series of December storms covered the Sierra Nevada
with heavy snow, leaving the snowpack at 106% of average,
according to the state’s snow survey. But a new study
suggests that Californians won’t always be able to rely on
melting snow to trickle down the mountains each spring, filling
state reservoirs for use over the long, dry summers.
California has done a better job managing its coastline than
most of the other beach states in the country — but needs to
improve at planning for the future as sea-level rise threatens
homes and infrastructure. The “2018 State of the Beach Report
Card” released Thursday by San Clemente-based Surfrider
Foundation gave California an “A” grade, while other areas
prone to extreme weather and lacking policy to protect the
coast earned lower ratings.
California is no stranger to extreme weather. The last decade
has brought crippling droughts and dam-busting deluges. And
climate change is only making the situation worse by turning up
the heat during the dry season and supercharging storms during
the wet season. Now, a new study suggests rising temperatures
also will increase the frequency of strong El Niño events,
which often bring pummeling rains across the state.
Few places will feel the plight of climate change as hard as
the Arctic. Our upper pole is warming faster than any other
region on Earth, a trend that may be tied to erratic weather
patterns across the northern hemisphere. Those are two
takeaways from the 2018 Arctic Report Card, which was released
Tuesday at the American Geophysical Union conference in
The second big task is to de-couple economic progress from
environmental degradation. In short, every new unit of economic
gain is still cranking out a corresponding unit of
environmental pain. Climate change presents the starkest form
of the problem.
After more than a three-week delay, commercial crab fishermen
will begin dropping their nets this Saturday in coastal waters
from Bodega Head north to the Sonoma-Mendocino county line. The
region was slated to open Nov. 15 but was postponed due to
unsafe levels of toxic domoic acid found in crabs. Points south
of the Sonoma County coastline opened on schedule last month.
George H.W. Bush was the first president to sign the U.S. onto
a global climate deal, a modest effort recognizing the threat
of climate change, and possibly the last to successfully take
on a wholesale revision of the Clean Air Act.
Not a rapid growth in energy prices. Not unemployment. Not
rising public debt. Business leaders in some of the world’s
most water-stressed countries say that water availability and
pollution are the biggest risks to their operations.
… Business executives and investors are gaining the same
awareness as national security experts, generals, and
diplomats: that the lack of reliable, clean water, made worse
by climate change, unsettles societies, politics, and
The Senate environment panel’s top Democrat wants EPA acting
chief Andrew Wheeler to explain the basis for his recent
comments questioning a federal climate science report. … Sen.
Tom Carper (D-Del.), ranking member on the Senate Environment
and Public Works Committee, rejected Wheeler’s claims about the
report in a statement Dec. 4.
Climate change is bringing migrating whales closer to the
shores of Northern California, and subsequently a record number
of marine mammals have died or been injured because of fishing
gear — especially California’s Dungeness crab pots.
While oil companies built seawalls and elevated their oil rigs
to protect critical production infrastructure from the rising
sea level, they concealed from the public the knowledge that
burning fossil fuels could have catastrophic impacts on the
biosphere. That’s what citizens and local governments across
the United States are asserting in lawsuits against oil, gas,
and coal companies.
Del Mar is a picturesque place that’s name means “of the sea,”
in Spanish. That’s becoming increasingly true. Del Mar is one
of countless coastal communities in California and across the
U.S. that is seeing the impacts of climate change and preparing
for worse to come.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the climate
summit in Poland by issuing a dramatic appeal to world leaders
Monday to take the threat of global warming seriously and to
act boldly to avert a catastrophic rise in temperatures before
the end of the century.
Butte County’s Camp Fire not only claimed a staggering amount
of lives and property, it spewed out a whole lot of greenhouse
gases – about as much as all of California’s cars and trucks
produce in a week, according to new state estimates. This blast
of emissions contributes negligibly to the planet’s overall
warming, but taken together with other wildfires, big blazes
like the Camp Fire are posing an increasing threat to the
climate, scientists say.
Mark Dalski is an owner of Highview Creations, a company that
designs and builds green roofs in New York City, and he knows a
lot about climate change. That’s why he is working on his
escape. Mr. Dalski, 33, lives in Greenwich, Conn., but he can
envision a time when his home there might be besieged by
extreme weather and rising sea levels.
Two weeks ago my [Noah Oppenheim] organization, the Pacific
Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Associations, became the first
industry trade group of any kind to legally challenge Big Oil
for its role in causing global climate change. … We filed our
case the day before the Dungeness crab season opened in the Bay
Area to highlight how the gross misuse of the public trust by
these mega corporations has resulted in warming oceans, harmful
algal blooms, and dangerous conditions for the West Coast
In a chapter dedicated to climate change effects in the
southwest, climate scientists say “with very high confidence”
that warm temperatures are reducing the water content of
mountain snowpack and the flows of rivers and streams that
depend on snowmelt. The chapter’s landing page features a photo
of low water levels at the nation’s largest reservoir, Lake
Mead outside Las Vegas, Nevada, a near perfect symbol of the
region’s ongoing water challenges.
The ominous climate change report the Trump administration
released on Thanksgiving weekend could provide legal ammunition
for states such as California, which are suing or threatening
to sue the federal government over weakened regulations on
fossil-fuel industries, automobiles and other contributors to a
Even if the nations of the world get their act together and
slash fossil-fuel emissions rapidly, the United States will
need to spend many billions of dollars to harden coastlines,
rebuild sewer systems and overhaul farming practices to protect
against floods, wildfires and heat waves that are already
causing havoc nationwide. … Much of the nation’s
infrastructure, including things like roads and sewers, was
built with historical weather conditions in mind.
Governors have a wide range of priorities they want to tackle
in the coming year, from tax reform to education. Yet it’s a
topic that receives less attention on the campaign trail and in
their speeches that could determine their success — natural
Bigger, more dangerous wildfires. Coastlines threatened by
rising sea levels. Less water. More heat-related illnesses.
These are some of the ways climate change is rapidly changing
California and the West, with conditions only expected to
worsen, according to a landmark federal report, the first of
its kind under the Trump administration.
A milestone oil development project in Alaska’s Arctic waters
is having to extend its construction timeline to accommodate
the warming climate. The recently approved Liberty Project —
poised to become the first oil production facility in federal
Arctic waters — has altered its plans due to the shrinking sea
“Our problem is a society that is unintentionally, but
actively, ignoring opportunities because of the cultural
perception of wildfire,” said Jack Cohen, who is retired from
the U.S. Forest Service where he worked for 40 years as a fire
research scientist. That perception, he argues, is based on
myth and fear and complicated by an ongoing narrative that
attributes conflagrations like the Camp fire to such factors as
climate change, overgrown forests and urban encroachment into
Thirty years ago, this magazine published “The End of Nature,”
a long article about what we then called the greenhouse effect.
I [Bill McKibben] was in my twenties when I wrote it, and out
on an intellectual limb: climate science was still young. But
the data were persuasive, and freighted with sadness.
Forecasters say rain might arrive by Thanksgiving to clear away
the smoke and mercifully reduce fire danger. But the optimism
is tempered by a grim reality. … California has warmed
roughly 3 degrees Fahrenheit since 1980 during the autumn
months of September, October and November. Rainfall in those
months has fallen by about one-third over the same time.
There wasn’t a flake of real snow anywhere in the Sierra, but
that didn’t matter to Andy Melendes, who was first in line
Friday for opening day at the Alpine Meadows ski resort.
… Forecasters say the dry weather, which has increased
the fire danger across California, is likely to end Wednesday,
but the snowfall next week is not likely to make up for the
lack of precipitation this fall.
In the universe of California water, Tim Quinn is a professor emeritus. Quinn has seen — and been a key player in — a lot of major California water issues since he began his water career 40 years ago as a young economist with the Rand Corporation, then later as deputy general manager with the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, and finally as executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies. In December, the 66-year-old will retire from ACWA.
When people think of potential solutions to global warming,
they tend to visualize technologies like solar panels or
electric cars. A new study published on Wednesday, however,
found that better management of forests, grasslands and soils
in the United States could offset as much as 21 percent of the
country’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.
Last year was California’s most destructive fire season. That
is, until this year. And while climate change cannot be blamed
for individual fires like those currently burning at both ends
of the state, scientist Daniel Swain says climate change is a
“threat multiplier,” creating conditions that will lead to more
large, fast-moving and dangerous wildfires.
The day before commercial fishermen were due to bring the first
of the season’s Dungeness crab to Bay Area docks, they made
other news. On Wednesday, West Coast crab fishermen filed a
lawsuit alleging that 30 fossil fuel companies are to blame for
the past several years of delayed seasons and disastrous
economic losses due to ocean warming.
Researchers with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of
Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back
scientific findings published last month that showed oceans
have been heating up dramatically faster than previously
thought as a result of climate change.
President Trump took to Twitter to blame bad forest management.
Gov. Jerry Brown pointed to climate change. Their arguments
about the cause of disastrous wildfires roaring across the
state have turned a California catastrophe into the latest
political cudgel in the ongoing slugfest between Washington and
This is a wet place by California standards. It averages about
55 inches of rain a year, thanks to its prime location in the
verdant foothills of the Sierra Nevada, which wrings rain out
of Pacific storms. But when the Camp fire sparked last
Thursday, Paradise was parched. … Across California, the lack
of autumn rain is having dire consequences.
Thursday’s decision does not permanently block a federal permit
for Keystone XL. It requires the administration to conduct a
more complete review of potential adverse impacts related to
climate change, cultural resources and endangered species. The
court basically ordered a do-over.
A lawsuit by a group of young Americans, which asserts the U.S.
government is harming them by having created a national energy
system that causes climate change, is on hold again after a
federal appeals court Thursday granted the Trump
administration’s motion for a temporary stay. … The
young plaintiffs also accuse the government of failing to
protect natural resources as a “public trust” for future
For the fourth time, the Trump administration is asking the 9th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order dismissal of a youth-led
climate case that could go to trial in Eugene. Government
attorneys filed an emergency motion with the appeals court late
A group of young people can sue the federal government over its
climate change policies, the Supreme Court said Friday. Since
it was first filed in 2015, the government has requested
several times that Juliana v. United States be dismissed.
… Leigh-Ann Draheim, whose son Levi, 11, is the youngest
plaintiff, said the case was based in part on the public trust
doctrine. “People have the right to running water, clean water”
and clean air, Draheim told NPR.
The USDA’s internal watchdog will examine the agency’s plan to
restructure its top independent research office and move it out
of the District of Columbia, actions some lawmakers and staff
fear could leave research on contentious issues like climate
change and the social safety net vulnerable to political
The world’s oceans may be heating up faster than previously
thought — meaning the planet could have even less time to avoid
catastrophic global warming than predicted just weeks ago by
the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
According to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature,
ocean temperatures have been warming 60 percent more than
outlined by the IPCC.
Just because El Niño may be lurking
off in the tropical Pacific, does that really offer much of a
clue about what kind of rainy season California can expect in
Water Year 2019?
Will a river of storms pound the state, swelling streams and
packing the mountains with deep layers of heavy snow much like
the exceptionally wet 2017 Water Year (Oct. 1, 2016 to Sept. 30,
2017)? Or will this winter sputter along like last winter,
leaving California with a second dry year and the possibility of
another potential drought? What can reliably be said about the
prospects for Water Year 2019?
At Water Year
2019: Feast or Famine?, a one-day event on Dec. 5 in Irvine,
water managers and anyone else interested in this topic will
learn about what is and isn’t known about forecasting
California’s winter precipitation weeks to months ahead, the
skill of present forecasts and ongoing research to develop
A meticulous re-creation of a 3-decade-old study of birds on a
mountainside in Peru has given scientists a rare chance to
prove how the changing climate is pushing species out of the
places they are best adapted to. Surveys of more than 400
species of birds in 1985 and then in 2017 have found that
populations of almost all had declined, as many as eight had
disappeared completely, and nearly all had moved to higher
elevations in what scientists call “an escalator to
Rallies are scheduled across the country on Monday in support
of a youth-led climate case that’s on hold pending Supreme
Court review. A trial in the case — known as Juliana v. U.S. —
was scheduled to begin Oct. 29 in U.S. District Court in
Eugene. But proceedings are temporarily suspended as the
Supreme Court decides whether the case should move forward.
California officials unveiled a plan Thursday that calls for
the state to begin taking concrete steps to deal with an ocean
that’s getting more acidic. Ocean acidification is a growing
problem that researchers say is only expected to get worse as
climate changes impact local ocean waters.
With a deadline approaching for Arizona to finish a deal that
would divvy up cutbacks in Colorado River water deliveries, the
state’s cities, tribes and agricultural irrigation districts
are entering what should be the final stretch of negotiations.
Scientists are becoming more adept at linking climate change to
worsening storms, even in real time, but federal officials
aren’t using that information to help prepare for natural
disasters. The study of how global warming makes extreme
weather more intense or more frequent—called attribution
science—has evolved rapidly.
It was only a few years ago that a strident denier of climate
change who mocked the idea of humans pushing temperatures
higher represented the congressional district that stretches
into what Floridians fondly call their Treasure Coast. No House
candidate along the Treasure Coast talks that way
now. Worries about increasingly toxic algae blooms have
consumed residents this election season.
The lawsuit filed in 2015 argues that government officials have
known for more than 50 years that carbon pollution from fossil
fuels was causing climate change and that policies on oil and
gas deprive the young people of life, liberty and property.
They also say the government has failed to protect natural
resources as a “public trust” for future generations.
The U.S. Supreme Court has suspended proceedings in a youth-led
climate case scheduled to go to trial in Eugene beginning Oct.
29. The brief order issued Friday by Chief Justice John Roberts
says only that discovery and trial in U.S. District Court in
Eugene are on hold pending receipt of a response from the
plaintiffs, who include 21 youths — six of whom are from
In a city where it is difficult for middle-income families to
find housing, and people shooting up drugs is a too-common
sight on downtown streets, the fate of a largely hidden piece
of infrastructure might seem like a low priority. Despite this,
San Francisco voters are being asked to approve Proposition A,
a bond on the Nov. 6 ballot that would generate $425 million to
begin strengthening the 3-mile-long seawall along the city’s
The loud crack rang out from the fog above the Baishui No. 1
Glacier as a stone shard careened down the ice, flying past
Chen Yanjun as he operated a GPS device. More projectiles were
tumbling down the hulk of ice that scientists say is one of the
world’s fastest melting glaciers. … “You’re talking
about one of the world’s largest freshwater sources,” said
Ashley Johnson, energy program manager at the National Bureau
of Asian Research, an American think tank.
Insect populations in the tropics are facing a crisis as global
warming drives up temperatures, causing a 98 percent decline in
their numbers over the last four decades. Those are the
findings of a new study published this week in
the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which
suggests that climate change is disrupting the global ecosystem
at an accelerating pace.
In a stark report that indicates previous assessments of
potential climate change damages were too conservative, climate
scientists outlined repercussions from two possible planetary
futures, one considerably worse than the other. Severe economic
and ecological shocks, including risks to health, food
security, and water supplies, will happen sooner than expected
if global temperatures continue to rise, according to a report
from the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
that was released October 8.
Most visitors walking along the Embarcadero on San Francisco’s
famed waterfront are familiar with the Ferry Building, the
Giants ballpark, the Exploratorium and Fisherman’s Wharf. But
few might realize that none of those attractions would be
possible without a low-profile workhorse that holds everything
together: the Embarcadero Seawall, an aging, 3-mile-long,
rock-and-concrete structure that rebuffs pounding tides and
enabled the city to rise atop the tidal mudflats of San
Remember when the eminent scientist Jor-El warned the council
of Krypton that the planet would explode, and sooner rather
than later? And they didn’t believe him, but it happened
anyway? Pardon my [Jon Brooks] glib intro, but you have to
reach into the world of comic books to describe the kind of
global catastrophic negligence the recently released U.N.
climate report has now put on the record.
The federal judge who in 2016 cleared a constitutional climate
case for trial in Eugene has reiterated her position that the
youth-led matter should be decided in court. U.S. District
Judge Ann Aiken on Monday issued a long-awaited decision that
keeps intact the central claims of a lawsuit that asserts the
federal government’s policies regarding the use of fossil fuels
are contributing to global warming and violating the rights of
21 youth plaintiffs who first sued the government in 2015.
Higher temperatures, more intense droughts and more
damaging wildfires and floods are just some of the climate
change effects already being seen in the California
desert — and residents of low-income, minority communities
in the Coachella Valley are most likely to suffer the
consequences of those environmental stresses. That was one of
the takeaways from a series of presentations by scientific
experts last week at UC Riverside’s Palm Desert campus.
Despite what President Donald Trump says, scientists have long
known that what’s warming the planet isn’t natural. It’s us.
They even have the energy balance sheets accounting for changes
in the climate to prove it. President Trump’s own White House
put out a science report last year concluding that “the likely
range of the human contribution to the global mean temperature
increase over the period 1951-2010 is 1.1 to 1.4 F (0.6 to 0.8
If horrific hurricanes and a new, scarier-than-ever United
Nations report don’t change attitudes on climate change,
perhaps a new report on barley will. A small international team
of scientists considered what the effect of climate change
would be for this crop in the next 80 years, and they are
raising an alarm they hope will pierce the din of political
In June and September of 2017, two heat waves killed at least
14 people in the Bay Area, and sent hundreds more to the
hospital. San Francisco was caught off guard, says the city’s
deputy director of public health, Naveena Bobba.
Samuel Western writes about the Mountain West. He said rural
parts of the region are often reluctant to embrace climate
change because it doesn’t come up that often in everyday
conversation. “If you live in a more urban environment you are
exposed to more ideas, but we tend to live fairly siloed in
Wyoming,” said Western. “And a lot of people come here for that
A state of emergency was declared for the bayfront
community of Belvedere after investigation of a damaged seawall
revealed the problem is larger than the city had realized.
Consulting engineers told the city late last month it should
act immediately to prevent the seawall along Beach Road — which
protects the area from flooding — from shifting any further or
collapsing into San Francisco Bay.
You won’t be seeing much of California’s gubernatorial
candidates this fall — at least, you won’t be seeing much of
them together. The only debate between Democrat Gavin Newsom
and Republican John Cox took place on KQED’s Forum radio
program Monday. Prompted by host Scott Shafer, the two had a
lengthy exchange about the state’s approach to climate change.
The federal government is again asking a judge to suspend
proceedings in a climate case scheduled to go to trial in
Eugene on Oct. 29. Government attorneys on Friday filed a
motion in U.S. District Court in Eugene requesting a stay
pending Supreme Court review of the case, which is brought by
21 young people with the support of Eugene nonprofit group Our
One of the report’s contributors said predicted temperature
increases will be greater in the semi-arid climate of the
American West. Diana Liverman, a professor of geography and
development at the University of Arizona, said this would lead
to even more intense heat waves, droughts, fires and downpours
than California is already experiencing.
The phrase “climate change” did not appear on the agenda of a
recent three-day meeting of the Colorado Water Congress, but
the topic was often front and center at the conference, as it
increasingly is at water meetings around the state and the
region. Amy Haas, the new executive director of the Upper
Colorado River Commission, told the Water Congress audience of
about 300 water managers, irrigators, engineers and lawyers
that “hydrology is changing more rapidly than we once thought”
and that “it is primarily due to climate change.”
In the exact spot where Hurricane Katrina demolished the
Plaquemines Parish Detention Center, a new $105 million jail
now hovers 19 feet above the marsh, perched atop towering
concrete pillars. Described by a state official as the “Taj
Mahal” of Louisiana corrections, it has so much space that one
of every 27 parish residents could bunk there.
In the 728-page document, the U.N. organization detailed how
Earth’s weather, health and ecosystems would be in better shape
if the world’s leaders could somehow limit future human-caused
warming to just 0.9 degrees Fahrenheit (a half degree Celsius)
from now, instead of the globally agreed-upon goal of 1.8
degrees F (1 degree C). Among other things: — Half as many
people would suffer from lack of water.
One of our most popular events, our annual Water 101 Workshop
details the history, geography, legal and political facets
of water in California as well as hot topics currently facing the
Taught by some of the leading policy and legal experts in the
state, the one-day workshop on Feb. 7 gave attendees a
deeper understanding of the state’s most precious natural
Optional Groundwater Tour
On Feb. 8, we jumped aboard a bus to explore groundwater, a key
resource in California. Led by Foundation staff and groundwater
Harter and Carl Hauge, retired DWR chief hydrogeologist, the
tour visited cities and farms using groundwater, examined a
subsidence measuring station and provided the latest updates
on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.
McGeorge School of Law
3327 5th Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95817
Ramping up wind power in America would also dial up the
nation’s temperatures, a new study out of Harvard found. While
wind energy is widely celebrated as environmentally friendly,
the researchers concluded that a dramatic, all-out expansion in
the number of turbines could warm the country even more than
climate change from burning coal and other fossil fuels,
because of the way the spinning blades disturb the layers of
warm and cold air in the atmosphere.
Torrential rainfall lashed Japan in July. A cloudburst in
August submerged entire villages in south India. In September,
Hurricane Florence burst dams and lagoons, with coal ash and
pig waste spilling into the waterways of North Carolina. On the
other side of the planet, a typhoon walloped the Philippines
and ravaged the country’s staple crop, rice.
In Incheon, South Korea, this week, representatives of over 130
countries and about 50 scientists have packed into a large
conference center going over every line of an all-important
report: What chance does the planet have of keeping climate
change to a moderate, controllable level?
In an election year that has included alarming portents of
global warming — record wildfires in the West, 500-year floods
in the East, a president walking away from a global climate
accord — the one place that climate change rarely appears at
all is in the campaigns of candidates for the House and Senate.
He is among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded
program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in
California’s soil. Part of the state’s overarching goal of
curbing greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change,
the California Healthy Soils Initiative took effect a year ago,
when the state’s cap-and-trade program made $7.5 million
available in small grants to farmers like Poncia. This year,
the Healthy Soils Program, one component of the initiative, is
receiving about $15 million.
As calendars turn from September to October, cooler weather may
give many Californians the idea that the brutal fire season of
2018 is over. But nothing could be further from the truth,
according to fire experts and state fire statistics. October is
actually the most dangerous month historically for wildfire
risk in the state.
Last month, deep in a 500-page environmental impact statement,
the Trump administration made a startling assumption: On its
current course, the planet will warm a disastrous 7 degrees by
the end of this century. A rise of 7 degrees Fahrenheit, or
about 4 degrees Celsius, compared with preindustrial levels
would be catastrophic, according to scientists.
The Atlantic’s warmer waters triggered the unusual number of
major hurricanes last year, according to a new study that
predicts the region could see a couple of extra whopper storms
each year by the end of the century.
Loren Poncia’s idling pickup shudders in a powerful gust of
afternoon wind in western Marin County. Inside the warm cab, he
scans the sun-browned hills through his binoculars, counting
his grazing cows. Poncia raises beef cattle. As he sees it,
though, what he is really doing is raising soil. … He is
among more than 80 farmers now engaged in a state-funded
program aimed at increasing carbon concentrations in
Off the north coast of Scotland, Orkney’s soft green landscapes
hold a trove of things from everyday life before history was
written. More than 3,000 archaeological sites — among them
standing stone circles, Norse halls and a Neolithic tomb
graffitied by Vikings — have endured for millenniums, scattered
across the roughly 70 islands that make up the Orkney
There’s the punk rocker, the animal lover and the shy
performer. A future educator, a taekwondo black belt and an
outdoorsman also are part of the group. All six young people
from Eugene are among 21 youth plaintiffs suing the federal
government in an unprecedented, constitutional climate change
lawsuit that seeks to overhaul the nation’s energy system.
The lush plains east of Yosemite National Park offer a window
into a bygone California — a place where sage grouse welcome
the arrival of spring with theatrical mating rituals and cattle
graze on verdant pastures. For nearly a century, these lands
have been made green thanks to annual flooding by the Los
Angeles Department of Water and Power, helping maintain cattle
forage and keeping alive a culture of ranching in southern Mono
America’s national parks are warming up and drying out faster
than other U.S. landscapes, threatening iconic ecosystems from
the Everglades in Florida to Joshua Tree in California to
Denali in Alaska. That’s the conclusion of a new climate change
study published Monday, the first to examine rainfall and
temperatures in all 417 national parks sites.
Gavin Newsom and John Cox both drive zero-emission Teslas.
That’s about where the common ground ends between California’s
candidates for governor when it comes to the environment. …
Cox opposes as a “boondoggle” [Gov. Jerry] Brown’s $17 billion
proposal to move water from Northern California to Southern
California through twin tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin
River Delta. … Newsom backs a one-tunnel option as more
In the years since 2013, when Utah forged the first office
championing outdoor recreation, a deluge of states has
followed. Last year, the number of states with an
outdoor-recreation office or task force doubled to 11, and more
are forming, building momentum for an industry that is flexing
its burgeoning economic and political might. And the industry’s
hopes for bolstering its legitimacy and muscle were pinned on
California, home of the country’s largest economy and one of
its most vibrant outdoor cultures.
As if this past summer of merciless heat waves, droughts and
megafires were not warning enough, in the past several days the
elements sounded another alarm about the state of a world made
warmer by the burning of fossil fuels. It came in the form of a
one-two punch of wind and rainfall from Hurricane Florence,
which like Hurricane Harvey a year ago, has derived much of its
wallop from unusually warm ocean waters and stalled weather
systems linked to climate change.
The Colorado River watershed faces increasing challenges from
chronic water shortage. And it appears increasingly likely this
is a new permanent condition, not an episodic drought. … Jack
Schmidt, a professor of watershed sciences at Utah State
University, is about to start a large new research project to
explore reservoir operations in the watershed.
[Mayor Jackie] Biskupski says Salt Lake feels the effects of
climate change with low snowpack, drought conditions and
wildfire smoke. She plans to join other mayors to sign the
“Deadline 2020” pledge to reduce global emissions.
California Gov. Jerry Brown, whose term expires in January, has
made renewable energy and climate change a centerpiece of his
final term. This week, he co-hosts a global climate summit in
San Francisco. On Friday, he discussed the issue in an
interview with San Jose Mercury News resources and environment
writer Paul Rogers.
During the first 18 months of the Trump administration, records
show, nearly 1,600 workers left the EPA, while fewer than 400
were hired. The exodus has shrunk the agency’s workforce by
8 percent, to levels not seen since the Reagan
California stands at the center of innovative efforts to
develop carbon-capture and removal technologies. State
officials have begun working them into their climate action
plans. And this month, when Gov. Jerry Brown welcomes officials
from around the world to a global climate conference in San
Francisco, the question of how far world leaders should move
toward embracing such ideas will be a major focus.
Warming temperatures are sapping the Colorado River, the water
source for more than 40 million people in the southwest. A new
study finds over the last 100 years the river’s flow has
decreased by more than 15 percent. Colorado State University
researcher Brad Udall co-authored the study with UCLA
scientists Mu Xiao and Dennis Lettenmaier.
As California lawmakers struggled this week to address an
apparent new normal of epic wildfires, there was an inescapable
subtext: Climate change is going to be staggeringly expensive,
and virtually every Californian is going to have to pay for it.
On his first official trip to the U.S. territories, Interior
Secretary Ryan Zinke could face stark climate change concerns.
What he’ll heed is up to him. But with his geology degree from
the University of Oregon and his beach-crawling background as a
former Navy SEAL, Zinke, in theory, could bring the right kind
of baggage on his upcoming trip.
Heat waves will grow more severe and persistent, shortening the
lives of thousands of Californians. Wildfires will burn more of
the state’s forests. The ocean will rise higher and faster,
exposing California to billions in damage along the
coast. These are some of the threats California will face
from climate change in coming decades, according to a new
statewide assessment released Monday by the California Natural
Bad news for the West: Even after firefighters have already
battled 101 large blazes this year, the remainder of wildfire
season is expected to be hotter and drier than normal,
virtually assuring there will be more destruction ahead,
scientists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration said Thursday.
As temperatures rise in the U.S. West, so do the flames. The
years with the most acres burned by wildfires have some of the
hottest temperatures, an Associated Press analysis of fire and
weather data found.
Trump administration officials unveiled a new plan Thursday to
reduce the risk of forest fires, acknowledging “the urgent need
to dramatically increase preventative forest treatment” that
can keep fires from burning out of control. The plan, which
emphasizes state and local collaboration, was short on details,
California suffered through its hottest July on record, while
August has pushed sea-surface temperatures off the San Diego
coast to all-time highs. Are these punishing summer heat waves
the consequences of global warming or the result of familiar
Two top officials of the Trump administration, winding up a
tour of fire-ravaged Redding, insisted Monday that removing
dead trees and thinning forests, not addressing climate change,
are the keys to dealing with California wildfires.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, touring neighborhoods devastated
by the Carr Fire, stepped up the Trump administration’s push
Sunday to remove more trees from national forests as a means of
tamping down fire risks. “We need to manage our forests, we
need to reduce the fuels,” Zinke said as he overlooked
Whiskeytown Lake in the vicinity where the Carr Fire began July
This summer of fire and swelter looks a lot like
the futurethat scientists have been warning about in the
era of climate change, and it’s revealing in real time how
unprepared much of the world remains for life on a hotter
planet. … For Daniel Swain, a climate scientist at the
University of California Los Angeles, it vindicates the
scientific community’s mathematical models.
Amy Haas recently became the first non-engineer and the first woman to serve as executive director of the Upper Colorado River Commission in its 70-year history, putting her smack in the center of a host of daunting challenges facing the Upper Colorado River Basin.
Yet those challenges will be quite familiar to Haas, an attorney who for the past year has served as deputy director and general counsel of the commission. (She replaced longtime Executive Director Don Ostler). She has a long history of working within interstate Colorado River governance, including representing New Mexico as its Upper Colorado River commissioner and playing a central role in the negotiation of the recently signed U.S.-Mexico agreement known as Minute 323.
In 1908, biologist Joseph Grinnell began leading hundreds of
research expeditions throughout California to collect animals
as museum specimens and catalog the wildlife in the forests,
mountains and deserts. The meticulous notes he and his
colleague took over four decades captured scientific snapshots
of the wildlife in the first half of the 20th century,
including surveys of birds in many areas of the Mojave
Experts studying the blazes that have ravaged California in
recent years have reached a troubling realization: There are
several reasons fire seasons are getting worse, and we’re
almost completely to blame for all of them.
The Karuk Tribe and UC Berkeley are launching a $1.2 million
study to determine how to best protect native foods and
resources in the face of a changing climate and a history of
environmental degradation in the mid-Klamath River Basin.