Drought doesn’t just mean less water — it also means more pollution. Nye first found television fame in the ’90s with his weekly children’s show on PBS.
Now, he’s returning to the small screen — or, at least, the streaming device — with Bill Nye Saves the World, a Netflix series set to debut this spring. “Each episode will tackle a topic from a scientific point of view,” Nye said in a statement, “dispelling myths, and refuting anti-scientific claims that may be espoused by politicians, religious leaders, or titans of industry.” Those topics include some hot-button issues, like vaccinations, genetically modified foods, and climate change. Though he got his start on an uncontroversial kids’ show, in recent years Nye has not shied away from contentious issues. California’s drought isn’t going away anytime soon. Several months after storms fueled by a fierce El Niño exploded over the northern Sierra Nevada, California’s mountain snowpack has nearly disappeared.
Scientists bid adieu last week to an El Niño that had been among the strongest on record, but that brought disappointingly few wintertime snowflakes and raindrops to the Southwest. Snow that bucketed down in northern California during a string of March storms has largely withered during a sunny and warm spring. Those unexpected meteorological forces pushed California into the fifth year of a drought that has already cost the state billions of dollars and thousands of farm-related jobs. The prolonged crisis is illuminating the need to reimagine how water is stored and used in the West as the world warms up. California’s drought led to less hydropower and more carbon emissions.
This story was originally published by CityLab and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
Climate change intensified California’s current drought, and the drought may be intensifying climate change. A new report by the Pacific Institute finds that the state’s energy portfolio has continued to shift away from hydropower and toward dirtier sources of electricity (CityLab covered its 2015 report on the same subject). That’s led to a 10 percent uptick in carbon emissions from California’s power plants, and an extra $2 billion for ratepayers.
Between 1983 and 2013, hydropower accounted for an average 18 percent of California’s total electricity production. It has never been a perfect energy source: Environmentalists object to characterizations of it as “renewable,” because of the negative impact on river ecosystems that large dams invariably have. California lawmaker hopes to refill state’s wells … from Alaska. Despite the current freakout and media storm over the drought in California, parched conditions in the state are hardly new.
Although you can’t always tell when lush green laws and golf courses dot the landscape, much of California — and the entire Southwestern United States — is technically desert. And that’s the thing about deserts — they just don’t have a lot of water. Now, in search of solutions to the current drought, up pops an old idea: Shipping water from Alaska. In the 1960s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a wacky scheme to divert water from Alaska and send it Southwest-wards, by way of Canada and the northern states. The hundreds of dams and power plants needed to complete the system would have basically eradicated the wildlife habitats of most of the rivers in Western Canada, Montana and Idaho, and the act of removing freshwater from Alaska could have had an irrevocable effect on the formation of Arctic ice.
Seems pretty dumb, right? California’s historic drought and wildfires could make for a rough winter. This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration Mudslides stranded hundreds of motorists on southern California’s main north-south highway Thursday evening after severe thunderstorms rocked the area.
Cleanup crews worked through the night to plow and scoop up the mud, but meteorologists say that thanks to California’s historic drought, widespread wildfires, and a potentially historic El Niño, this disaster could be just a taste of what’s to come this winter. The rain was part of a slow-moving storm system that passed through the Los Angeles area Thursday afternoon and battered the mountains to the north of the city in Kern County.
The result: flash floods that sent mud and debris flowing down hillsides and onto Interstate 5, as well as onto a smaller state highway. I-5 has been cleared and is waiting final inspection to reopen, but hundreds of cars are still stuck on the state highway. This chart shows why even a powerful El Niño won’t solve California’s water issues. This story was originally published by Mother Jones and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration.
In California, news of a historically powerful El Niño oceanic warming event is stoking hopes that winter rains will ease the state’s brutal drought. But for farmers in the Central Valley, one of the globe’s most productive agricultural regions, water troubles go much deeper — literally — than the current lack of precipitation. That’s the message of an eye-popping report from researchers at the U.S.
Geological Survey. This chart tells the story: To understand it, note that in the arid Central Valley, farmers get water to irrigate their crops in two ways. Some California farmers are ditching popular crops for less thirsty varieties. As I grew up in Southern California, avocados and oranges were always a family favorite.
We looked forward to the warmer months when the local fruits became bountiful and dotted farmers markets and restaurant menus everywhere. On family trips to the beach, we’d drive past miles of orange and lemon orchards. In my mind, those orchards are an iconic image of life in the Golden State. But that picture might soon change, thanks to the ongoing California drought. In northern San Diego County, where citrus and avocados are the most popular crops, farmers have closed thousands of thirsty acres because of the expensive and dwindling water supply, NPR reports.
As water prices soar in San Diego County, some growers have converted orchards into vineyards since grapes use 25 percent less water, tripling the number of local wineries in recent years, NPR reports. The California drought is killing almond trees, too. Arizona and California are ignoring the science on water. Deep beneath the bleached-out, dusty surface of the drought-stricken West is a stash of water sequestered between layers of rock and sometimes built up over centuries.
Officials in the Colorado River basin states have long treated this liquid treasure as a type of environmental retirement account — an additional supply of water they can raid to get through the driest years and make up for the chronic overuse of the rivers themselves. In recent years, the withdrawals have taken on even more importance: At least 60 percent of California’s water now comes from underground, some researchers say. Arizona, staring down imminent rationing of Colorado River water, pumps nearly half its supply from aquifers. The science has been clear for the better part of a century.
Drawing groundwater from near a stream can suck that stream dry. “States have their own take on this. “Those who have unlimited water supply don’t particularly like the idea of changing that,” she said. It had tried. Thirsty birds are dying all over California — thanks, climate change. You know that historic and disastrous drought currently turning California into one big heap of straw?
You know how it’s probably being exacerbated by climate change? And indicative of the conditions that will become more common as the climate continues to warm? As if that weren’t bad enough on its own, there’s more: All those hot and dry conditions mean that climate change is basically flipping the bird to birds, which are in serious trouble as they make their long migrations over parched California.
Yup — welcome back to Spoiler Alerts, where climate change is always a jerk. Climate change leaves trees out to dry. Here’s the only explainer on California drought you need. Why do I keep hearing about the California drought, if it’s the Colorado River that we’re “killing”?
Pretty much every state west of the Rockies has been facing a water shortage of one kind or another in recent years. California’s is a severe, but relatively short-term, drought. But the Colorado River basin — which provides critical water supplies for seven states including California — is the victim of a slower-burning catastrophe entering its 16th year. Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, and California all share water from the Colorado River, a hugely important water resource that sustains 40 million people in those states, supports 15 percent of the nation’s food supply, and fills two of largest water reserves in the country. Check out this amazing new tool for judging California’s water use.
Four years into the biggest drought that I’ve ever known in California, and it feels a little eerie. The fog feels like a special occasion instead of business as usual. On the rare occasion when it does rain, it’s hard not to jump up and down and point out the window. Do I feel guilty, keeping my carbon-based, water-dependent self here? What will happen to a sinking California? Just ask San Luis Obispo. This story was originally published by Reveal from the Center of Investigative Reporting and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. For those wondering why California is sinking, look no further than San Luis Obispo. Not too long ago in that idyllic Central Coast city, an overdependence on groundwater became a destructive and expensive problem that today could serve as a warning to cities and counties throughout the state. California is figuring out the whole drought thing for the rest of us.
Looking on the Blight Side of Things California drought,yadda yadda yadda. You’ve probably heard it all by now — water rights debates, evil almonds, lawn hate — but that overexposure could be a boon for the rest of the world, where drought is forecast to be a serious and growing problem as the climate warms. You can’t blame immigrants for California’s drought. Every political consultant knows better than to let a good crisis go to waste. With that in mind, an anti-immigration group called Californians for Population Stabilization has been running TV commercials linking California’s drought to immigration.
In a 30-second spot that’s been airing recently in the Sacramento and Los Angeles markets, a shaggy, young white boy asks a series of questions in a high-pitched voice: “If Californians are having fewer children, why is it so crowded? If Californians are having fewer children, why are there so many cars? If Californians are having fewer children, why isn’t there enough water?” “Let’s slow immigration, and save some California for tomorrow,” the announcer gently intones. While it’s designed to sound reasonable, the message is actually deceptive demagoguery. As for the drought, it has nothing to do with immigration whatsoever.
California is sinking faster than ever, thanks to massive overpumping of water. This story was originally published by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting and is republished here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. California is sinking – and fast. While the state’s drought-induced sinking is well known, new details highlight just how severe it has become and how little the government has done to monitor it. Last summer, scientists recorded the worst sinking in at least 50 years. This summer, all-time records are expected across the state as thousands of miles of land in the Central Valley and elsewhere sink. Think we can end California’s drought by eating differently? Think again. Global Warming: 3 Things You Can Do To Conserve Water During a Drought. Global warming has made droughts like the one that California is currently experiencing, worse, scientists say. While there isn't anything you can do specifically (other than pray to the gods of rain) to reverse a drought, there are ways to conserve water during one that can ultimately help reverse the effects of global warming as well.
ALERT: Is Global Warming a Hoax? The drought is killing everything — except wineries. Le vol d’eau, crime d’un nouveau genre en Californie. L'eau devient une denrée rare en Californie, Etat qui connaît une sécheresse sans précédent. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) It’s official: California farmers volunteer to give up water. En Californie, touche pas à mon eau. Drought ended the Maya empire. Is California next? Once upon a time, the Mesoamerican lowlands of Mexico and Guatemala belonged to the classical Maya empire, a civilization on par with what we now call Ancient Greece — which is to say, pretty damn civilized.
La sécheresse en Californie menace la sécurité alimentaire des Etats-Unis. Douze millions d’arbres sont déjà morts en Californie où les couleurs d’automne, en ce printemps 2015, annoncent des catastrophes. C’est la quatrième année consécutive de sécheresse, la pire enregistrée depuis 120 ans. Déjà, le 1er avril 2015, à 2 000 mètres d’altitude dans les montagnes de la Sierra Nevada, le gouverneur de Californie Jerry Brown, au lieu de neige, n’avait trouvé que de l’herbe beige et sèche. Why does water rationing in California exclude fracking and agribusiness? 3-dumb-things-california-is-blowing-water-on-during-an-extreme-drought. If you think that California is dry now, wait until the 2050s.
This story was originally published by Slate and is reproduced here as part of the Climate Desk collaboration. California’s snowpack is at a record low. 7 things to know about California’s drought. This roadkill map says a lot about California’s drought.