Climate Adaptation

Guest Contributor Samantha Zurcher: The Current State of Wildfire Liability in California

Wildfire Grows Rapidly In California s Lake County. Bjorgialt; Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Wildfires Are Ravaging California. Can Electric Utilities Take the Heat?

In recent years, California has experienced its largest and deadliest wildfires in history, resulting in hundreds of fatalities and more than $50 billion in damage. The confluence of rising temperatures, less rainfall, and strong winds signal that the annual “wildfire season” is here to stay, and will continue to proliferate. Every year, thousands of Californians …

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How Climate Disruption May Undermine Climate Policy

The long-term harms from climate change over the next decades may undermine support for efforts to reduce emissions

Almost two straight months of wildfires and smoke in California are a tangible sign of the impacts of climate change on our lives and our world. This article from the New York Times a couple of weeks ago does a good job of laying out why the wildfires in California are only one example of …

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Guest Contributor Naomi Wheeler: States and Cities Should Prioritize Equity While Building Grid Resilience

Power grid masts

Learning from Grid Resilience Threats and Opportunities in California and New York

Electrical grids across the country face a complex series of overlapping threats to grid resilience in 2020. Wildfires and hurricanes have become the new normal as climate change intensifies the magnitude of extreme weather events. These destructive events create widespread systemic shocks for electrical grids already facing several underlying vulnerabilities. In a recent research report, …

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We’re Going to Need a Much Bigger FEMA

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 …

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Beat the Heat

Sunset at Santa Monica Beach

As Angelenos swelter in historic heatwave, city and county governments seek to cool vulnerable residents  

Wildfires sparked by dry lightning storms across California this week are an ominous cap to the state’s historic heat emergency, adding hazardous air quality and evacuation orders to the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic crisis. Fire risk aside, the heat wave is now entering its most deadly phase. Nationwide, heat kills more Americans …

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Hot Spots

Climate change isn’t uniform. Some parts of the U.S. are seeing conditions that won’t hit elsewhere for decades.

Friday’s Washington Post had a fascinating article about climate change hotspots within the United States.  The largest one was on the Western Slope of the Rockies, which has already seen 2 °C of warming.  The story is a reminder that the impacts of climate change will be global and yet also very much local. Before …

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The Whipsaw Effect

Get ready for a rough ride, with sudden weather reversals and climate shifts.

Steady predictable changes in climate and weather would be easier to adapt to.  Instead, we may well see some very sudden shifts, both in terms of short-term weather and longer-term climate regimes.

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Election 2020: State Legislatures

The Outlook for State Climate Policy Might Improve

The key political races aren’t just about the White House or Congress.  Control of state legislatures will also be important in shaping climate and energy policy — not to mention their ultimate effect on the composition of the U.S. House due to redistricting. One of my themes is the importance of state government to climate …

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New Report: A Cleaner, More Resilient Electrical Grid for California

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 …

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Towards an equitable microgrid policy

The California Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision is a first step to grid resiliency for communities of color and low-income communities

The 2020 fire season has already started, and we cannot repeat the mistakes of past fire seasons. PG&E recently pled guilty to 84 counts of manslaughter after 84 people were killed when a derelict PG&E transmission line sparked the 2018 Camp Fire. The 2019 fire seasons saw widespread public safety power shutoffs (PSPS events), most …

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