Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the case, which
was first brought by a group of 21 young people, can go
forward. The result could be a historic climate change decision
that will affect every American. The lawsuit dates to 2015,
when the young plaintiffs (they now range in age from 10 to 21)
first filed suit against the Obama administration.
When President Trump sent his first tweet about the current
California wildfires, which have killed nine people and
destroyed more than 1,000 homes, he chose the moment to zero in
on water policy — leaving some scratching their heads.
A thin layer of smoke has stretched across Sacramento for the
past week, coming from the deadly wildfires burning to the
north and east. The smoke serves as a powerful reminder of a
topic likely to dominate the work of lawmakers returning to the
state Capitol this week.
Much of the heat that’s gripped California and hastened the
spread of deadly wildfires recently is due to a strange but
familiar shift in the jet stream — one that’s haunted the West
with threatening fire conditions in the past and could cause
more hot, dry spells in the future, especially with a changing
As fire crews struggled to gain containment on more than a
dozen wildfires raging across California on Wednesday, Gov.
Jerry Brown told reporters that large, destructive fires would
probably continue and cost the state billions of dollars over
the next decade.
Editor’s Note This narrative by Nathaniel Rich is a work of
history, addressing the 10-year period from 1979 to 1989: the
decisive decade when humankind first came to a broad
understanding of the causes and dangers of climate change.
Complementing the text is a series of aerial photographs and
videos, all shot over the past year by George Steinmetz.
Rising temperatures that are contributing to wildfires and
droughts are also changing the world’s soil so that it pumps
out more carbon dioxide, a “feedback loop” that could aggravate
climate change, according to a study published Wednesday in the
The northern Sacramento Valley was well on its way to recording
the hottest July on record when the Carr fire swept into town
Thursday. It was 113 degrees, and months of above-average
temperatures had left the land bone-dry and ready to explode.
The U.S. Supreme Court expressed qualms Monday about the scope
of a climate-change lawsuit by 21 young people against the
government, but rejected the Trump administration’s request to
block a trial of the unprecedented suit that accuses federal
officials of endangering their futures by failing to act
against global warming.
This summer has witnessed an explosion of algae problems in
Western water bodies. Usually marked by a bright green mat of
floating scum, the blooms are unsightly and unpleasant for
water lovers. More concerning are potentially toxic
cyanobacteria often produced by the algae, which can be deadly
to pets and livestock and cause illnesses in people.
As flames from the Ferguson Fire burn closer to some of the
world’s oldest and largest trees, firefighters are racing to
protect ancient sequoias on Yosemite National Park’s western
edge. About 25 Yosemite firefighters have surrounded Merced
Grove — whose immense trees tower more than 200 feet tall and
date back 1,000 years — with fire hoses.
Climate change is gradually warming Lake Tahoe, clouding its
clarity and threatening its fabled “blueness,” scientists at UC
Davis warned Thursday. In its annual “State of the Lake”
report, the university’s Tahoe Environmental Research Center
said surface water temperatures in July 2017 spiked to an
average 68.4 degrees.
California’s top climate regulator will continue serving
through 2020 under a plan set to be voted on Thursday. Mary
Nichols, who has led the California Air Resources Board since
2007, would see her term expire at the end of 2020 if the
board’s members confirm staff recommendations at the
A federal judge on Thursday tossed out a lawsuit filed by New
York City that wanted to force oil companies such as
ExxonMobil, Chevron and ConocoPhillips to pay for damages
related to global warming. The decision comes a little more
than three weeks after a federal judge in California dismissed
suits filed by the cities of San Francisco and Oakland.
Even trusting your local weather announcer is political these
days. Take the battle in Congress over the renewal of a grant
to help television meteorologists incorporate climate change
into their weather reporting.
If the Ferguson Fire currently burning in Mariposa County
spreads to Yosemite National Park, a tiny bug resembling a
mouse dropping would share some of the blame. An epidemic of
bark beetles is devastating billions of pine trees across the
West in what has been described as the largest forest insect
outbreak ever recorded.
Rising levels of carbon dioxide from car and factory exhaust —
which scientists say is the primary cause of global warming —
could contribute to the killing off of monarch butterflies by
reducing the medicinal qualities of the plants they eat, a new
study has found.
A colleague once observed, many years ago, that California has
two seasons. Green and brown. We are in the latter, and
death has visited my [Steve Lopez] neighborhood this summer.
Half the ground cover in my frontyard has burned to a crunchy
crisp. … The Los Angeles-area forecast offers no
A century ago, the island town of Drawbridge held 90 homes,
hotels and cabins, with hunting so bountiful that dead ducks
served as currency at its gambling tables. Now — in a rare act
of reverse colonization — civilization is ceding to the
elements in this windswept marsh, located near Alviso at
the southern end of San Francisco Bay. Rising tides flood a
dozen or so surviving skeletal structures.
The dense network of cables that make up the Internet is likely
to be inundated with saltwater as sea levels rise, a new
analysis suggests, putting thousands of miles of critical
infrastructure along U.S. coastlines underwater in the next 15
years. “It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the
Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer
scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the
For years, there has been a movement in California to restore
floodplains, by moving levees back from rivers and planting
trees, shrubs and grasses in the low-lying land between. The
goal has been to go back in time, to bring back some of the
habitat for birds, animals and fish that existed before the
state was developed.
Long before President Trump nominated him for the Supreme Court
on Monday, Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh had already made a name for
himself as an influential conservative critic of sweeping
From the normally mild summer climes of Ireland, Scotland and
Canada to the scorching Middle East, numerous locations in the
Northern Hemisphere have witnessed their hottest weather ever
recorded over the past week. Large areas of heat pressure or
heat domes scattered around the hemisphere led to the
When dust storms began rising off the dry bed of Owens Lake,
authorities in the Eastern Sierra blamed Los Angeles’ thirst.
The city had, after all, drained the lake in the 1920s to serve
its faucets. Now, as dust kicks up from Mono Lake, authorities
in the Eastern Sierra are once again blaming that water-craving
metropolis about 350 miles to the south. But this time, they’re
also blaming climate change.
California lawmakers may make it easier for utilities to reduce
liability for wildfire damage as the state braces for more
severe blazes in the face of climate change. The changes would
apply only to future fires, not the ones that swept across
California’s wine country last year — the most devastating in
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
We headed into the foothills and the mountains to examine
water issues that happen upstream but have dramatic impacts
downstream and throughout the state.
GEI (Tour Starting Point)
2868 Prospect Park Dr.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670.
The retirement of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy
next month is likely to reshape the high court to the detriment
of the environment, legal experts say, potentially limiting
progress on such issues as climate change and clean water, even
in California, where leaders have long pursued an environmental
agenda independent of Washington.
A federal judge earlier this week may have tossed out a lawsuit
brought by officials for the cities of San Francisco and
Oakland, seeking to hold oil companies such as Chevron, BP and
ExxonMobil liable for any costs related to climate change, but
the mayor of Imperial Beach says a similar lawsuit his town is
taking part in will proceed.
From South Africa’s drought-stricken vineyards, to France’s
noble chateaus, to sunny vineyards in Australia and California
, growers and winemakers say they are seeing the effects of
climate change as temperatures rise, with swings in weather
patterns becoming more severe. So they are taking action,
moving to cooler zones, planting varieties that do better in
the heat, and shading their grapes with more leaf canopy.
It’s not just beaches and sand that are disappearing as the
ocean pushes inland. Sea level rise is also eating away at
California’s coastal cliffs. The question is by how much, as
Californians have heavily developed and continue to build along
the edge of the Pacific.
The Trump administration appears to be planning to shift the
mission of one of the most important federal science agencies
that works on climate change — away from climate change. The
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is part
of the Department of Commerce, operates a constellation of
The Trump administration has appointed Republican Mike Stoker
for the position [Environmental Protection Agency Region 9
administrator]. … KQED Science recently spoke with him
at his office in San Francisco. He said a top priority for him
is to deal with sewage pollution at the US-Mexico border.
A U.S. judge who held a hearing about climate change that
received widespread attention ruled Monday that Congress and
the president were best suited to address the contribution of
fossil fuels to global warming, throwing out lawsuits that
sought to hold big oil companies liable for the Earth’s
More than two years after the 2015-16 Dungeness and rock crab
seasons in California was marred by toxic algae blooms, the
federal government this week has allocated $25.8M in disaster
funds to relieve fishermen and businesses affected by the
closure. The Yurok Tribe was also allocated nearly $4M in
disaster relief for its 2016 commercial salmon season, which
was closed due to low numbers of returning spawners.
Since the early 1980s, climate change had warmed the Gulf of
Maine’s cool waters to the ideal temperature for lobsters,
which has helped grow Maine’s fishery fivefold to a
half-billion-dollar industry, among the most valuable in the
United States. But last year the state’s lobster landings
dropped by 22 million pounds, to 111 million.
An executive order signed by President Trump late Tuesday
eliminates an uncelebrated but far-reaching review process put
in place eight years ago among state, tribal and federal
agencies to better coordinate ocean policy in the wake of the
devastating Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
As the level of carbon dioxide in the air continues to rise
because of climate change, scientists are trying to pin down
how the plants we eat are being impacted. Mounting evidence
suggests that many key plants lose nutritional value at higher
CO2 levels, and scientists are running experiments all over the
world to try to tease out the effects.
David Inouye is an accidental climate scientist. More than 40
years ago, the University of Maryland biologist started
studying when wildflowers, birds, bees and butterflies first
appeared each spring on this mountain.
That oceanfront property in Stinson Beach you’ve dreamed about
may not be so perfect after all. A report published Monday
finds that nearly 4,400 homes in Marin County might not make it
beyond a 30-year mortgage because of encroaching seawater.
Nowhere is the domino effect in
Western water policy played out more than on the Colorado River,
and specifically when it involves the Lower Basin states of
California, Nevada and Arizona. We are seeing that play out now
as the three states strive to forge a Drought Contingency Plan.
Yet that plan can’t be finalized until Arizona finds a unifying
voice between its major water players, an effort you can read
more about in the latest in-depth article of Western Water.
Even then, there are some issues to resolve just within
New York City’s attempt to hold five of the world’s biggest oil
companies responsible for damage from global warming didn’t
seem to impress a judge during oral arguments Wednesday to
determine if a lawsuit can proceed. … The January
lawsuit came after similar litigation was filed by the cities
of San Francisco, Oakland and Santa Cruz in California.
The U.S. record $18 billion wildfire season of 2017 was
triggered by the coincidence of three primary factors that came
into play or persisted longer than anticipated, according to a
new study led by a researcher at the University of
Colorado. Those “switches,” according to study leader
Jennifer Balch, were ignition, aridity and fuel.
This small rectangle of wetland near the San Francisco Bay in
San Lorenzo doesn’t look particularly visionary. Above ground,
it’s an appealing – if unusually orderly – array of meadows,
cattails and willows. But there’s far more here than meets the
eye. This modest strip of land, just 38 by 150 feet, in the Oro
Loma Sanitary District promises to help solve two of the Bay
Area’s most pressing concerns: sea-level rise and nutrient
Record heat returned to the United States with a vengeance in
May. May warmed to a record average 65.4 degrees in the Lower
48 states, breaking the high of 64.7 set in 1934, according to
federal weather figures released Wednesday. May was 5.2 degrees
above the 20th century’s average for the month.
Four statewide ballot propositions were passing in California
on Tuesday, while an effort to control spending of funds
collected through the state’s climate change program appeared
headed toward a defeat.
Deputies with a Lake Tahoe patrol crew helped recover a
malfunctioning robot deployed by UC Davis researchers to study
climate change, Placer County Sheriff’s Office reported Sunday
on Facebook. And it’s a good thing they picked it up before
someone else did, because the yellow-and-blue device bears a
fairly strong resemblance to a torpedo.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Science Advisory Board,
in a rebuke to the Trump administration’s retreat on
environmental protection, voted overwhelmingly Thursday in
favor of a full board review of the agency’s most important
actions to dismantle climate policy.
In an interview, Gov. Jerry Brown acknowledged the hope felt by
many climate activists because of efforts from states like his
and by private companies. But he also said the world is only
just beginning to feel the environmental harm inflicted by the
You can shove water back from the land, or let the land flood,
but either way, San Francisco Bay is getting higher. Along more
than 400 miles of bayfront, in at least forty communities that
touch water, the once-sneaky problem of sea level rise is
revealing itself as it accelerates.
Backing away from attempts at censorship, the National Park
Service today released a report charting the risks to
national parks from sea level rise and storms. Drafts of
the report obtained earlier this year by Reveal from The Center
for Investigative Reporting showed park service officials had
deleted every mention of humans causing climate change. But the
long-delayed report, published today without fanfare on the
agency’s website, restored those references.
Eight years ago, Marin County created a new kind of public
power agency in California — over the strenuous objections
of Pacific Gas and Electric Co. … Community choice
allows local governments to band together in something like a
buyer’s club for electricity, purchasing in bulk from operators
of power plants, wind farms, hydroelectric dams and solar
facilities. Each community choice program’s governing board
sets its own electricity rates.
Five of the world’s largest oil producers urged a federal judge
Thursday to dismiss lawsuits by San Francisco and Oakland that
seek to hold the companies liable for climate change, arguing
that the issue is one for Congress, not the courts.
Fighting global warming is starting to sound like a lucrative
investment. A new study out of Stanford University finds that
keeping global warming a half-degree beneath the Paris climate
agreement’s 2 degree Celsius target could potentially save more
than $20 trillion globally.
We traveled deep into California’s
water hub and traverse the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a
720,000-acre network of islands and canals that supports the
state’s water system and is California’s most crucial water and
ecological resource. The tour made its way to San Francisco Bay,
and included a ferry ride.
For years now, thousands of studies have linked rising sea
levels to climate change. But one Republican congressman had an
alternate explanation he floated this week during a meeting of
the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology with
leading climate scientist Philip Duffy.
Marine life across North America will experience a substantial
shift northward over the next few decades, according to a new
comprehensive report that looks at how climate change will
alter the habitats of 686 marine species.
Using measurements from Earth-observing satellites, NASA
scientists have tracked changes in water supplies worldwide and
they’ve found that in many places humans are dramatically
altering the global water map. … Their findings in a new
study reveal that of the 34 “hotspots” of water change in
places from California to China, the trends in about two-thirds
of those areas may be linked to climate change or human
activities, such as excessive groundwater pumping in farming
A new study from NASA reinforces the idea that droughts are
getting worse and could become more frequent in the Western
U.S. The culprit is human-caused climate change. Droughts
aren’t just about precipitation, said NASA scientist and the
study’s co-author Benjamin Cook.
This spring in California several orchards around Solano and
nearby counties sported a new look: lush carpets of mixed
grasses growing as tall as 3ft beneath the trees’ bare
branches. By summer the scene will change as farmers grow and
harvest their nut crops, but the work of the grasses will
continue unseen. Cover cropping, an agricultural technique as
old as dirt, is taking root in California.
Imagine the snow in the Sierra Nevada mountains as a giant
reservoir providing water for 23 million people throughout
California. During droughts, this snow reserve shrinks,
affecting water availability in the state.
Warmer days — and nights. Rising sea levels. Less water
available in summer. A report released Wednesday by state
officials says climate change is affecting California’s
ecosystem already in ways great and small.
Some 950 wildfires have burned more than 5,800 acres of
California so far this year, and residents need to recognize
that fire, as a result of a host of factors including climate
change, is now a year-round threat, Cal Fire Director Ken
Bigger, more intense forest fires, longer droughts, warmer
ocean temperatures and an ever shrinking snowpack in the Sierra
Nevada are “unequivocal” evidence of the ruinous domino-effects
that climate change is having on California, a new California
Environmental Protection Agency report states.
Arizona’s largest water provider tried Tuesday to defuse a
multi-state dispute over the Colorado River, saying it
regretted the belligerent-sounding words it used to describe
its management strategy for the critical, over-used waterway.
… It also pledged to cooperate on drawing up a
multi-state plan for possible shortages in the river, which
appear more and more likely because of the drought and climate
Since the 1940s, the Hawaiian island of Kauai has endured two
tsunamis and two hurricanes, but locals say they have never
experienced anything like the thunderstorm that drenched the
island this month. “The rain gauge in Hanalei broke at 28
inches within 24 hours,” said state Rep. Nadine Nakamura of the
North Shore community.
State regulators are urging local elected officials to brace
for retreat as scientists continue to predict sea levels will
rise in coming decades and pummel beachfront communities from
San Diego to Arcata.
A world-class snowboarder, former Navy SEAL Josh Jespersen
served for four years in Afghanistan and Iraq. … Now he’s
undertaking a different kind of expedition — urging
mountain-state politicians to take seriously the threat of
climate change, and working to vote them out of office if they
California’s Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta is vital to water
supplies for 25 million people and 4 million acres of farmland.
It is linked to the Pacific Ocean via San Francisco Bay, which
makes this water supply uniquely vulnerable to sea level rise.
Yet understanding sea level rise in the Delta is complicated.
A primary goal of Drawdown is to help people who feel
overwhelmed by gloom-and-doom messages see that reversing
global warming is bursting with possibility: walkable cities,
afforestation, bamboo, high-rises built of wood, marine
permaculture, multistrata agroforestry, clean cookstoves,
plant-rich diet, assisting women smallholders, regenerative
agriculture, supporting girls’ ongoing education, smart glass,
in-stream hydro, on and on.
A wave of legal challenges that is washing over the oil and gas
industry, demanding accountability for climate change, started
as a ripple after revelations that ExxonMobil had long
recognized the threat fossil fuels pose to the world.
The extreme weather swings experienced by Californians the past
six years — a historic drought followed by drenching winter
storms that caused $100 million in damage to San Jose and
wrecked the spillway at Oroville Dam — will become the norm
over coming generations, a new study has found.
President Trump has aimed to undo much of the Obama
administration’s policy on energy and climate. … One could
argue that any of the leading candidates in the 2016 Republican
primary would have taken similar actions in the climate and
energy space. What is needed now, we argue, is momentum toward
bipartisan climate legislation in Congress that could outlast
the back-and-forth on regulations.
Californians should expect more dramatic swings between dry and
wet years as the climate warms, according to a new study that
found it likely that the state will be hit by devastating,
widespread flooding in coming decades.
From oil spills to rat-infested nesting sites to fishing nets,
seabirds have long faced a wide range of threats to their
survival. One study of monitored populations found a 70 percent
drop in their numbers since 1950. More recently, climate change
has added another challenge for seabirds: As global warming
accelerates, they’re increasingly out of sync with their prey.
In 2007, at Jeff Creque’s behest, John Wick got in touch with
Whendee Silver, an ecologist at the University of California,
Berkeley. Letting cows graze on his property had certainly made
the land look healthier, he told Silver. But he and Creque
wanted to know: Had it put carbon in the ground? And if so, was
it possible to measure how much?
We explored the lower Colorado River where virtually every drop
of the river is allocated, yet demand is growing from myriad
sources — increasing population, declining habitat, drought and
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs was the focus of this tour.
Hampton Inn Tropicana
4975 Dean Martin Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89118
Furry, button-nosed and dependent on sea ice for their
survival, polar bears have long been poster animals for climate
change. But at a time when established climate science is being
questioned at the highest levels of government, climate
denialists are turning the charismatic bears to their own uses,
capitalizing on their symbolic heft to spread doubts about the
threat of global warming.
Californians may collectively be breathing a sigh of relief,
but not elation, this week, after the state’s latest snowpack
reading. A wet and cold March saved California from a near
record-low snowpack, but it proved too little too late to bring
a full recovery. And worse, climate scientists say we should
start getting used to these low snowpack years.
Every year, as the seasons change, a complex ballet unfolds
around the world. Trees in the Northern Hemisphere leaf out in
the spring as frost recedes. Caterpillars hatch to gorge on
leaves. Bees and butterflies emerge to pollinate flowers.
Learn what new tree-ring studies in
Southern California watersheds reveal about drought, hear about
efforts to improve subseasonal to seasonal weather forecasting
and get the latest on climate change impacts that will alter
drought vulnerability in the future.
At our Paleo
Drought Workshop on April 19th in San Pedro, you will hear
from experts at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, University of
Arizona and California Department of Water Resources.
Depending on where in the West you are, this winter was either
a winner or a big bust: Montana, for example, is swathed in
snow while parts of the Southwest are dismally bare. As of late
March, the Upper Colorado River Basin snowpack was well below
For the next two months, swaths of Ocean Beach in San Francisco
will bear a certain resemblance to a life-size playground
sandbox. Each weekday through the end of May, bulldozers,
backhoes and dump trucks will dig up and ferry 75,000 tons of
sand south from the beach’s northern shores in an effort to
temporarily replenish precious coastline lost to the forces of
nature and accelerated by the effect of climate change.
Dramatic swings in weather patterns
over the past few years in California are stark reminders of
climate variability and regional vulnerability. Alternating years
of drought and intense rain events make long-term planning for
storing and distributing water a challenging task.
Current weather forecasting capabilities provide details for
short time horizons. Attend the Paleo Drought
Workshop in San Pedro on April 19 to learn more about
research efforts to improve sub-seasonal to seasonal
precipitation forecasting, known as S2S, and how those models
could provide more useful weather scenarios for resource
Next week, a Silicon Valley engineer plans to head out on a
snowmobile from Barrow, on the northern tip of Alaska, to
sprinkle reflective sand on a patch of Arctic sea ice to try to
stop it from melting. It’s part of a journey that began in
2006, after Leslie Field watched the climate change documentary
“An Inconvenient Truth” and felt like she’d been “hit by a big
In an unprecedented “tutorial” before a federal judge
Wednesday, a lawyer for a major U.S. oil company accepted the
scientific consensus that humans are the primary cause of
global climate change. But he also emphasized uncertainties
about future impacts, while deflecting industry responsibility.
… Wednesday’s hearing was videotaped, and may be
viewable by Thursday at the court’s website, http://www.cand.uscourts.gov/home.
After Donald Trump won the presidential election, hundreds of
volunteers around the U.S. came together to “rescue” federal
data on climate change, thought to be at risk under the new
administration. “Guerilla archivists,” including ourselves,
gathered to archive federal websites and preserve scientific
A federal judge presiding over lawsuits that accuse big oil
companies of lying about global warming to protect their
profits is turning his courtroom into a classroom in what could
be the first hearing to study the science of climate change.
A federal judge in San Francisco Wednesday will preside over
the nation’s first-ever court hearing on the science of climate
change, but don’t expect it to be a “Scopes Trial” for global
warming research. The hearing stems from a state lawsuit that
San Francisco and Oakland filed against the world’s biggest oil
companies for their greenhouse gas emissions.
Ben Santer has clung to sheer granite walls. He’s hoisted
himself onto narrow ledges. He’s inched his way to survival out
of a deep, dark and deadly crevasse. Decades of stressful
high-stakes mountaineering have prepared the Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory scientist for his latest perilous
challenge: refuting the Trump Administration’s denial of
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal
government’s first responder to floods, hurricanes and other
natural disasters, has eliminated references to climate change
from its strategic planning document for the next four years.
Look out, cowboy. Climate change campaigners are coming for
your burger business. So are mushroom growers, Silicon Valley
investors and the billionaire Bill Gates. … But the
cattle industry is not going down without a fight.
Those severe winter storms that have been plaguing the East
Coast might be linked to a rapidly warming Arctic, according to
a new study on Arctic temperatures and extreme weather in a
dozen U.S. cities. While the findings published in the journal
Nature Communications build on earlier studies that have looked
into this connection, they drew criticism from other
researchers who questioned some aspects of the work.
The U.S. National Academies on Monday released a public peer
review of a draft document called the U.S. National Climate
Assessment, a legally required report that is being
produced by the federal Global Change Research Program.
A study published Wednesday finds that flooding along San
Francisco Bay could become far worse — sometimes twice as bad
as current models suggest — because much of the bayfront is
slipping downward at the same time that global warming is
driving ocean levels upward.
A three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on
Wednesday unanimously rejected the government’s request for an
order that would have directed a judge to dismiss a climate
lawsuit filed by 21 youths ages 10 to 21, along with well-known
climate scientist James Hanson.
Seeking to stave off the extinction of a storied species, state
and federal wildlife officials are releasing 200,000
hatchery-raised salmon into a restored High Sierra creek where
once-magnificent winter runs were wiped out over the past
Major parts of San Francisco Bay’s shoreline are slowly
sinking, a new scientific study has found, dramatically
increasing the risk of billions of dollars of flooding in the
coming decades as sea level rise continues due to climate
Heat waves, droughts and floods are climate trends that will
force California farmers to change some practices — including
what they grow — to continue producing yields that historically
have fed people nationwide, a new study by the University of
The head of U.S. EPA’s Scientific Advisory Board today said he
wasn’t sure if man-made emissions of greenhouse gases were
causing climate change. “I really don’t know,” SAB Chairman
Michael Honeycutt told E&E News. “I haven’t studied that,”
he said along the sidelines of the American Chemistry Council’s
If you live in a city or county that sues oil companies over
climate change, prepare for a blowback. ExxonMobil and other
fossil fuel giants are taking legal action against such local
governments, seeking to undermine a key part of their finances
— their relationship with lenders.
Over the past decade, California farmers have been seeing
symptoms of climate change in their fields and orchards: less
winter chill, crops blooming earlier, more heat waves and years
of drought when the state baked in record temperatures.
Scientists say California agriculture will face much bigger and
more severe impacts due to climate change in the coming
he earrings are only a couple of inches long, but the
masterfully carved salmon look like they’ve leaped from the
water to whisper in the wearer’s ear. Their glowing red hues
and iridescent opalescence caress the eye. These colors
occur naturally in the medium in which Leah Mata, a Northern
Chumash artist, works: the shells of the red abalone,
or Haliotis rufescens.
They are enduring symbols of the vast Mojave Desert, but Joshua
trees don’t grow everywhere. Even here in the Grapevine Mesa
Joshua Tree Forest, a National Natural Landmark since 1967, you
can see where the trees thin out and stop as the land rises
sharply to the east.
It’s been a painfully slow start to the ski season in the
Western U.S. Some places have seen record warm temperatures and
record low snowfall, prompting resorts to open late. … And
all this means an economic hit.
In Charleston, S.C., where the ports have been expanding to
accommodate larger ships sailing through the newly widened
Panama Canal, a real-estate developer named Xebec Realty
recently went looking for land to build new warehouses and
logistics centers. But first, Xebec had a question: What were
the odds that the sites it was considering might be underwater
in 10 or 20 years?
The Rev. Richard Cizik used to believe climate change was a
myth. The science had to be rigged, he thought; those who
believed in it were just tree-huggers. But in 2002, a friend
convinced Mr. Cizik to go to a conference about climate change,
and there, he said, “the scales came off my eyes.”
A recent study has found that virtually all United States-based
winter recreation locations could experience shorter ski
seasons, exceeding 50 percent by 2050 and 80 percent in 2090
for some downhill skiing destinations.
Recent winters have delivered a bitter chill to the Southeast,
reinforcing attitudes among some that global warming is a
fraud. But according to a scientific study published this
month, the Southeast’s colder winter weather is part of an
isolated trend, linked to a more wavy pattern in the jet stream
that crosses North America.
Weather experts spent much of this winter cautiously
optimistic. There were still weeks to go in the wet season and
the reservoirs were full, thanks to last winter’s near
record-breaking rain and snow. Now, even the professionals are
getting more than a little nervous.
Nearly three-quarters of San Francisco voters would support a
bond measure of up to $500 million to improve the city’s
disintegrating seawall, a piece of infrastructure that is
largely unseen but that experts say is of vital importance in
protecting the city against major earthquakes as well as sea
Every day, people flock to Daniel
Swain’s social media platforms to find out the latest news and
insight about California’s notoriously unpredictable weather.
Swain, a climate scientist at the Institute of the
Environment and Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the
term “Ridiculously Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe
the large, formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the
West Coast during winter and diverted storms away from
California, intensifying the drought.
Swain’s research focuses on atmospheric processes that cause
droughts and floods, along with the changing character of extreme
weather events in a warming world. A lifelong Californian and
alumnus of University of California, Davis, and Stanford
University, Swain is best known for the widely read Weather West blog, which provides
unique perspectives on weather and climate in California and the
western United States. In a recent interview with Western
Water, he talked about the Ridiculously Resilient Ridge, its
potential long-term impact on California weather, and what may
lie ahead for the state’s water supply.
Every day, people flock to Daniel Swain’s social media
platforms to find out the latest news and insight about
California’s notoriously unpredictable weather. Swain, a
climate scientist at the Institute of the Environment and
Sustainability at UCLA, famously coined the term “Ridiculously
Resilient Ridge” in December 2013 to describe the large,
formidable high-pressure mass that was parked over the West
Coast during winter and diverted storms away from California,
intensifying the drought.
About 10 miles off the Alabama coast, Ben Raines falls gently
backwards from a boat into the Gulf of Mexico, a scuba tank
strapped to his back and handsaw on his belt. He’s on a mission
to collect cypress samples from 60-feet below. “We’re going to
cut some pieces as if we were in a forest on land,” says
Raines, an environmental reporter with AL.com.
Lake Powell, which straddles Utah and Arizona, is expected to
get 47 percent of its average inflow because of scant snow in
the mountains that feed the Colorado River, said Greg Smith, a
hydrologist with the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, part
of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Bay Area city of Richmond recently made an unlikely move
that got the attention of its largest employer and taxpayer,
Chevron. It followed other municipalities and counties across
California that have filed lawsuits against oil companies,
alleging that the energy giants knowingly contributed to
climate change and should begin paying for it. Literally.
Last year, you began your tenure as the president-elect of the
American Geophysical Union, a global organization of earth and
space scientists who work on ensuring a sustainable future. Do
you feel as if we’re at a crossroads for climate change?
Anchored in flood-prone areas in every American state are more
than 2,500 sites that handle toxic chemicals, a New York Times
analysis of federal floodplain and industrial data shows. About
1,400 are located in areas at highest risk of flooding.
Unseasonably warm and dry temperatures blanketed California
over the weekend, shattering records across the state and
bringing clear blue skies that were expected to linger through
next weekend. … Experts expect extreme weather to become
the norm in the state as the climate changes and global
Lani Estill’s family ranches on thousands of acres in Modoc
County on the border of Nevada and California. Her operation,
Bare Ranch, sits in a place called Surprise Valley. It’s a
beautiful almost forgotten place “Where the West still lives” —
that’s the county’s motto.
For [Celeste] Cantú, who has managed water agencies for more
than two decades, the extraordinary winter heat is also a stark
reminder of how the warming climate is compounding the strains
on water supplies in the West. … The amount of snow
on the ground is also far below average across the Colorado
River Basin, where a 17-year run of mostly dry years has left
reservoirs at alarmingly low levels.
San Rafael’s Canal neighborhood has been selected as one of 10
Bay Area sites to get attention from a phalanx of architects,
urban planners and environmentalists as part of a competition
to battle sea-level rise. Fueled by an almost $5 million grant
from the Rockefeller Foundation, teams have been formed to
tackle what researchers say is inevitable flooding brought on
by climate change.
A new task force of scientists and forestry experts will
“review thoroughly the way our forests are managed and suggest
ways to reduce the threat of devastating fires,” Gov. Jerry
Brown announced in his State of the State speech
For a politician who winces at the L-word — “legacy” — Gov.
Jerry Brown spent much of his State of the State address on
Thursday defending the key projects and policies that will
likely define his: the state’s beleaguered bullet train, his
Delta tunnel plan and criminal justice reforms reducing
California’s prison population.
This is going to be a big year for one of the state’s smallest
agencies. As California redoubles its efforts to reduce
greenhouse gases, officials are rooting around for new ways to
meet the state’s goals. Included in their plan: recruiting
billions of redwood, oak and pine trees to help diminish
planet-warming gases by pulling carbon dioxide from the
U.S. mayors increasingly view climate change as a pressing
urban issue, so much so that many advocate policies that could
inconvenience residents or even hurt their cities financially.
The annual survey of big-city executives, slated for release on
Tuesday by the Boston University Initiative on Cities, also
reflected the nation’s sharp political divide.
Fro California Governor Jerry Brown and his administration,
2017 was a water year to remember, and one that would figure
into the drafting of the state’s 2018-19 budget, which was
released early this month. The $190 billion proposed spending
plan names California’s drought and the “extreme natural events
of 2017” as determining factors in how the cash was
A top manager who supervises the Environmental Protection
Agency program responsible for cleaning up the nation’s most
contaminated properties and waterways told Congress on Thursday
that the government needs to plan for the ongoing threat posed
to Superfund sites from climate change.
The United States is facing a number of water issues: drought,
wildfires, pollution and inequitable distribution. In fact,
when it comes to water policy, the U.S. Water Alliance says
that the nation is at a “crossroads” of short-term crises –
like deadly storms and acute pollution problems – and long-term
trends such as climate change and
Following a year in which Hurricane Maria destroyed Puerto
Rico’s power and water grids and Cape Town stepped to the edge
of a water supply disaster, the world’s business, political,
and academic elite warn of social and economic upheaval from
water and climate hazards.
To scientists who study lakes and rivers, it seems humans have
embarked on a huge unplanned experiment. By burning fossil
fuels, we have already raised the concentration of carbon
dioxide in the atmosphere by 40 percent, and we’re on track to
increase it by much more. Some of that gas may mix into the
world’s inland waters, and recent studies hint that this may
have profound effects on the species that live in them.
In December, the city and county of Santa Cruz joined a wave of
coastal California communities suing fossil-fuel companies for
climate-change related damages. On Monday, ExxonMobil pushed
back against what it called “abusive law enforcement tactics
and litigation,” threatening to file its own legal action and
accusing the local jurisdictions of hypocritically omitting
reference to climate change damages from their own bond
Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2018 budget continues efforts to combat
climate change. A total of $9.8 billion is destined for the
Natural Resources Agency for things like groundwater
sustainability, flood management and additional funding for
expanding the state’s firefighting capabilities.
Starting with the damaged Oroville Dam, California seemed to
careen from disaster to disaster in 2017. The dam’s spillway
alone is projected to cost more than $500 million to repair.
… [Gov. Jerry] Brown maintains that the state will face more
weather-related extremes in years ahead because of climate
Six months ago, officials in Imperial Beach joined six other
California coastal communities in a first of its kind lawsuit:
Demanding that 18 energy companies in the oil and coal sectors
pay the cities for damages associated with rising sea levels
and other effects of a warming planet. Now, one of those
companies — ExxonMobil — has fired back with its own aggressive
For millions of people in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas and
elsewhere whose lives were upended by
hurricanes and for tens of thousands of Californians whose
homes or businesses were destroyed by wildfires, climate
change hit home in 2017. … Despite all that, Al Gore is
Last year’s devastating floods and fires in California combined
with hurricanes and other natural disasters to wreak
unprecedented financial damage on the United States, the
federal government reported Monday.
New York will be the first major metropolis to be remapped
taking into account the realities of climate change, like
rising sea levels and increasingly powerful storms. … As a
result, FEMA and city officials say, New York could be an
example for other places around the country.
The Interior Department is dialing back more environmental
goals set in the Obama administration, this time through a
secretarial order. In a three-page order issued without fanfare
Dec. 22, Deputy Interior Secretary David Bernhardt rescinded
three Obama-era documents involving environmental mitigation
and one involving climate change policy.
Sixty percent of California’s developed water supply
originates high in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Our water
supply is largely dependent on the health of our Sierra forests,
which are suffering from ecosystem degradation, drought,
wildfires and widespread tree mortality.
This three-day, two-night tour explored the lower Colorado River
where virtually every drop of the river is allocated, yet demand
is growing from myriad sources — increasing population,
declining habitat, drought and climate change.
The 1,450-mile river is a lifeline to 40 million people in
the Southwest across seven states and Mexico. How the Lower Basin
states – Arizona, California and Nevada – use and manage this
water to meet agricultural, urban, environmental and industrial
needs is the focus of this tour.
Best Western McCarran Inn
4970 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
This tour traveled deep into California’s water hub and traversed
the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, a 720,000-acre network of
islands and canals that supports the state’s water system and is
California’s most crucial water and ecological resource. The
tour made its way to San Francisco Bay and
included a ferry ride.
Evidence shows that climate change is affecting California with
warmer temperatures, less snowfall and more extreme weather
events. This guide explains the causes of climate change, the
effects on water resources and efforts underway to better adapt
to a changing climate. It includes information on both California
water and the water of the Colorado River Basin, a widely shared
resource throughout the Southwest.
Anthony Stansbury propped his rusty bike against a live oak
tree and cast his fishing line into the rushing waters of
Florida’s Anclote River. … Stansbury is among nearly 2
million people in the U.S. who live within a mile of 327
Superfund sites in areas prone to flooding or vulnerable to
sea-level rise caused by climate change, according to an
Associated Press analysis of flood zone maps, census data and
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency records.
In 2017, tens of thousands of people descended upon
Washington to protest an administration skeptical of climate
change. President Trump declared his intent to withdraw from
the historic Paris climate agreement. In the United States,
there were a number of record natural disasters, including the
latest spate of wildfires in California that will
probably last through early next year.
Drought and climate change are having a noticeable impact on the
Colorado River Basin, and that is posing potential challenges to
those in the Southwestern United States and Mexico who rely on
In the just-released Winter 2017-18 edition of River
Report, writer Gary Pitzer examines what scientists
project will be the impact of climate change on the Colorado
River Basin, and how water managers are preparing for a future of
The city and county of Santa Cruz filed separate suits against
29 oil, gas and coal companies seeking climate-change related
damages — the latest in a wave of suits filed in recent months
by a coastal California communities.
California’s recent wildfires have been nearly unprecedented in
terms of their destructiveness and size and the season in which
they burned. The Thomas Fire, for example, has grown into one
of the largest wildfires in the state’s history, devouring
thousands of acres daily as it moves from Ventura to Santa
Barbara at a time of year more prone to gray skies and cold
rain than burning forests.
By the middle of this century, experts estimate that climate
change is likely to displace between 150 and 300 million
people. If this group formed a country, it would be the
fourth-largest in the world, with a population nearly as large
as that of the United States. Yet neither individual countries
nor the global community are completely prepared to support a
whole new class of “climate migrants.”
Rising temperatures from climate change are having a noticeable
effect on how much water is flowing down the Colorado River. Read
the latest River Report to learn more about what’s
happening, and how water managers are responding.
The athletes’ half-hour commute in the Swiss Alps — up two
gondolas, then through a tunnel in the world’s highest
underground train to a glacier at 11,000 feet — served up daily
grim reminders that global warming is threatening their line of
work. … Americans once had little need to swap
continents to guarantee offseason access to snow.
In 1991, Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines erupted and blanketed
the stratosphere with sulfur dioxide particles. The earth
cooled 0.7 to 0.9 degrees for two years. It’s theoretically
possible for humankind to do something similar as a way to
counteract climate change. And Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton,
wants scientists to explore the possibilities.
Beyond the devastation and personal tragedy of the fires that
have ravaged California in recent months, another
disaster looms: an alarming uptick in unhealthy air and the
sudden release of the carbon dioxide that drives climate
change. As millions of acres burn in a cycle of longer and more
intense fire seasons, the extensive efforts of industry and
regulators to protect the environment can be partly undone in
It’s official: 2017 is the deadliest and most
destructive year on record for wildfires in California.
Dry conditions, high temperatures, roaring winds and bone-dry
trees and brush are all factors responsible for the
devastation. But one underlying question is how much of a role
has climate change played?
This issue of Western Water discusses the challenges
facing the Colorado River Basin resulting from persistent
drought, climate change and an overallocated river, and how water
managers and others are trying to face the future.
Severe wildfire seasons like the one that has devastated
California this fall may occur more frequently because of
climate change, scientists say. … The reason is an expected
impact of climate change in California: increasing year-to-year
variability in temperature and precipitation that will create
greater contrast between drought years and wet years.
Hot, dry Santa Ana winds will likely whip up the unseasonably
fierce wildfires ravaging Southern California on Thursday,
forecasters said. The gales have come at the worst time, at the
end of a long dry spell.
Even before the dramatic Southern California wildfires began
their harrowing path this week, California was already
experiencing its deadliest and most destructive fire season
ever. And it’s only getting worse. … For Californians
who welcomed one of the wettest, drought-busting winters early
in 2017, the fury of the fires is startling.
Former President Barack Obama on Tuesday told a summit of
mayors driven to act after President Donald Trump rejected the
Paris climate accord that cities and states are the “new face
of American leadership” on climate change. … Mayors from
51 cities including Paris, Mexico City, San Francisco and
Phoenix attended the summit.
As our climate changes, human creativity has been turning to
solutions to problems ranging from restoring water supplies to
rebuilding failing ecosystems. In interviews, six scientists
discussed their efforts to slow or even reverse changes brought
California could be hit with significantly more dangerous and
more frequent droughts in the near future as changes in weather
patterns triggered by global warming block rainfall from
reaching the state, according to new research led by scientists
at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
Sea-level rise this century may threaten Jamestown in Virginia,
the first permanent English settlement in the Americas; the
Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which launches all of NASA’s
human spaceflight missions; and the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in
North Carolina, the tallest brick lighthouse in the United
States, a new study finds.
Scientists have calculated future scenarios for the coming
decades that include sea-level rise, more severe rainfall and
an increase in the frequency of heatwaves. Some areas will get
drier, others wetter. No matter what the future brings, one
thing is clear: Impacts from a warming climate are already
being felt across the American West, with changes to ecosystems
and water supply.
I [Kirsten James, who oversees the California policy program at
Ceres] recently returned from the United Nations climate talks
in Bonn, Germany … Amid the talk of mitigating
greenhouse gas emissions, I couldn’t help but notice how often
water resources came into the equation – and rightfully so. In
fact, at the 23rd Conference of Parties (COP23), there was a
day devoted to Water Action and a buzz on Twitter around
California could one day be uninhabitable. Fire. Heat. Floods.
… Decamping for the 23rd session of the Conference of
the Parties to the U.N. Convention on Climate Change,
California academics and political leaders were mulling how to
better deploy the distressing projections to give unwary
citizens a better understanding of what’s at stake and compel
them to see the wisdom of embracing sustainability.
[Philip J.] Rasch and [Joseph] Majkut are two climate
specialists who testified Wednesday before the House Committee
on Science, Space and Technology, which held a subcommittee
hearing on the potential for “geoengineering” — a catchall for
proposals to directly cool the atmosphere or pull carbon
emissions from it.
Droughts. Soaking winters. Heat waves. Wildfires. The last
several years have whipsawed West Coast winemakers such as
David Graves, who produces that oh-so-delicate of varietals,
pinot noir. It is also prompting vintners to ponder whether
climate change — once seen as distant concern — is already
visiting their vineyards.
California efforts to prepare for climate change already have
begun. In the Sierra Nevada, scientists and forestry management
experts burn and thin acres of forest to cut back on fuel for
intensifying wildfires. Down south in San Diego County, they
replenish beaches, repair sand dunes and plant thousands more
A non-partisan federal watchdog says climate change is already
costing U.S. taxpayers billions of dollars each year, with
those costs expected to rise as devastating storms, floods,
wildfires and droughts become more frequent in the coming
A cascade of extreme weather events fed Northern California’s
wildfires that exploded Sunday: Unusually high winds blew
flames through unusually dense and dry vegetation, which sprung
up following last winter’s heavy rains and then were toasted by
months of record hot temperatures.