Disasters

“Knocking on Our Door”: Wildfires Threaten Mt. Wilson Observatory and San Gabriel Foothill Communities

Mt. Wilson Observatory tweet

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

When Republicans Supported the Environment: Bush 41

The GOP wasn’t always the sworn enemy of environmental protection.

Younger people today probably know about George Herbert Walker Bush (R) as the father of George W. Bush and (perhaps) as the architect of the first Iraq War. But he also had some notable environmental achievements to his credit. Here are some of his accomplishments: Air Pollution Law. The 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments were …

CONTINUE READING

Herd Immunity

What Could Possibly Go Wrong with Trump’s Latest Coronavirus Idea?

“Herd immunity” seems to be gaining ground in the White House as a coronavirus strategy. The idea is to protect the vulnerable population, while letting the virus run its course among the rest.  The disease then dies out because so many people are immune.  What could possibly go wrong? In theory, this idea would work, …

CONTINUE READING

Hurricanes, Wildfires, Climate Change and the Republican “Platform” and Convention

No Acknowledgment of the Biggest Environmental Existential Threat We’ve Ever Faced

Hurricane Laura is  barreling down on Louisiana and Texas, bringing with it “unsurvivable storm surges” and “life-threatening hazards” to parts of the Gulf Coast.  Louisiana Governor Jon Bel Edwards is imploring residents to evacuate: “This is a very serious storm — I don’t think I have ever held a press conference to take something as seriously …

CONTINUE READING

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, …

CONTINUE READING

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 …

CONTINUE READING

What was Trump’s Role in Premature Reopening?

Yes, he was at fault, but it’s complicated.

In a column about a week ago, Paul Krugman pointed to the dire consequences of the reopenings in the Sunbelt and laid the blame entirely on Trump.  He viewed it as “case of Republican governors following Trump’s lead.” The “main driving force,” he said, was Trump’s reelection strategy.  There’s some truth to that, but it’s …

CONTINUE READING

California’s Spiking Coronavirus Cases

Clearly, it’s not just increased testing. We have a real problem.

The number of reported COVID-19 cases in California has risen dramatically.  What’s going on, and what should be done about it? The situation has changed so rapidly that I’ve had to rewrite this story repeatedly since I began work on it last week. Early Last Week When I started work on the story a week …

CONTINUE READING

Trump’s Latest Deregulatory Ploy: Emergency Waivers

Shaky legal authority, poor analysis, dubious benefits. What else is new?

In an Executive Order issued last Thursday, Trump told agencies to use emergency waivers to avoid environmental safeguards. The order is legally shaky and unlikely to accomplish much.  Still, it provided a nice photo op. Maybe he should have signed it in front of a church. I’ll talk later about the specifics, but first I’d …

CONTINUE READING

(Still More) Bad News on the Doorstep

New Reports Document Accelerating Wildlife Extinctions, Global Deforestation Trends

While public attention in recent weeks and months has understandably focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial justice shockwaves triggered by George Floyd’s tragic death, another disaster continues apace. This week the New York Times published two alarming stories documenting the accelerating decline of our global environment.  The first, entitled “Extinctions Are Accelerating, Threatening …

CONTINUE READING

TRENDING