More frequent heat waves. Droughts. Wildfires. The West is getting a glimpse of its future climate.
The western U.S. is staring climate change in the face. Most of the West is experiencing “severe” or “exceptional” drought. We could be heading into the worst drought period in centuries. Major dam reservoirs are down to record low levels. The region is also in the grips of a record-breaking heatwave. We can expect another …CONTINUE READING
“Knocking on Our Door”: Wildfires Threaten Mt. Wilson Observatory and San Gabriel Foothill Communities
On Sept. 15, Angeles National Forest reported the Bobcat Fire was within 500 ft. of historic observatory in San Gabriel Mountains
The Bobcat fire blazing in the San Gabriel Mountains is threatening lives and homes, forcing evacuation of communities in foothills clogged with acres of brush dried out by the hottest August ever recorded in California. For flatland Angelenos like me, the fires are both omnipresent and distant, sensed only by the hazy skies and smell …CONTINUE READING
FEMA is built to handle one disaster at a time. That’s not going to work in the future.
“When troubles come, they comes not as single spies but as battalions.” That wisdom goes back to Shakespeare. Yet our disaster response system is keyed to handling single disasters, not clusters of major disasters. That needs to change. This week is a good illustration. We have fires in California that may set records. We have …CONTINUE READING
California’s electrical grid is at the center of our fight against climate change, with aggressive goals to decarbonize through renewable energy. But the grid is at risk as climate impacts become more severe, particularly from worsening wildfires. To help modernize the grid to be cleaner and more resilient, the state will need deployment of clean …CONTINUE READING
Conditions in Australia keep getting worse. The government offers platitudes.
Australia is remarkably exposed to climate change and remarkably unwilling to do much about it. Conditions keep getting worse. Yet climate policy in Australia has been treading water or backpedalling for years, as I discussed in an earlier post. Let’s start with the temperature. The Guardian reports that in the year up to July 2019, …CONTINUE READING
Wildfires are getting worse and worse. Here’s what we know about the situation.
I don’t normally do this, but given the terrible wildfires now hitting the state, I thought it was worth doing a reprise of some posts on the subject from earlier this summer. Of course, there’s more information in the original posts, if you want to click over to them. Spreading Like Wildfire In 2017, wildfires …CONTINUE READING
How can we limit the spread of wildfires and save people and property?
Wildfires are already a serious problem, and climate change will only make the problem worse, as I’ve discussed in my two prior posts. Reducing carbon emissions can help keep the problem from growing, but we need to deal with the risks we’re already facing. That is going to require a portfolio of risk management strategies. We …CONTINUE READING
Wildfires were bad enough already. Climate change is making them worse.
Fires have been unusually severe lately. According to one scientist, “’[I]n the late 20th and early 21st century, with these hot droughts, fires are ripping now with a severity and ferocity that’s unprecedented,’ says Tom Swetnam. . . . A fire in the Jemez Mountains Swetnam studies burned 40,000 acres in 12 hours, a ‘horizontal …CONTINUE READING
They don’t get as much attention as floods or earthquakes, but wildfires are deadly serious.
This is the first of a three-part series about wildfires. Massive wildfires are a growing problem, posing risks to people and the environment. Considering that my house is located only a few miles from the 1991 Oakland Hills fire, which killed 25 people, destroyed 2800 homes, and caused $1.8 billion in damage, this is an …CONTINUE READING
Happy birthday to the federal government’s most recognizable environmental advocate
The U.S. Forest Service is a key actor in a lot of environmental and land use policy decisions. It oversees the national forests and handles various research and conservation efforts. The Service is a common defendant in environmental suits, often as a result of its substantial permitting duties. But what USFS is best known for …CONTINUE READING