Climate Change Is Ravaging the Colorado River. There’s a Model to Avert the Worst. – The New York Times

Fountain and Fremson traveled to Yakima, Wash. to see how collaboration solved a water crisis.

“YAKIMA, Wash. — The water managers of the Yakima River basin in arid Central Washington know what it’s like to fight over water, just like their counterparts along the Colorado River are fighting now. They know what it’s like to be desperate, while drought, climate change, population growth and agriculture shrink water supplies to crisis levels.

They understand the acrimony among the seven Colorado Basin states, unable to agree on a plan for deep cuts in water use that the federal government has demanded to stave off disaster.

But a decade ago, the water managers of the Yakima Basin tried something different. Tired of spending more time in courtrooms than at conference tables, and faced with studies showing the situation would only get worse, they hashed out a plan to manage the Yakima River and its tributaries for the next 30 years to ensure a stable supply of water.

The circumstances aren’t completely parallel, but some experts on Western water point to the Yakima plan as a model for the kind of cooperative effort that needs to happen on the Colorado right now.”

Heat, Water, Fire: How Climate Change Is Transforming the Pacific Crest Trail – The New York Times

“In the desert near Agua Dulce, north of Los Angeles, hikers along the Pacific Crest Trail who reached mile marker 502 encountered a cistern of water that smelled bad and tasted worse, with a dead rat floating inside. They got out their filters and refilled their bottles anyway. “Will update if I get sick,” one wrote on a message board to those coming up behind.

The message was just one sign of how global warming is affecting life along the trail, where, during a hot season nearly devoid of rain, water tanks and caches were more important than ever, the last line of defense against dehydration. At least some hikers willing to take their chances.

Thru-hikers on the P.C.T. spend up to five months walking from Mexico to Canada, through a landscape that ranges from high desert scrub to giant sequoias, basalt craters and alpine meadows. The route changes slightly each year, meaning that the trail’s official length, 2,650 miles, is really only an estimate.”

David Lindsay: I never got to the PCT. Here is a good comment from someone who did.
Erik Frederiksen
Asheville, NC6h ago

The first time I backpacked in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains was 40 years ago. The last time was a year ago when I still lived there and it was depressing. There were a lot of standing dead trees killed by bark beetles, a lot of dead and dying seedlings. There were giant trees knocked down by a freak wind storm, winds of more than 150mph. After that I hiked through an area burned by the Donnell Fire. By far the most trees you saw there were blackened skeletons. The streams ran anemically due to minimal snowpack. After these new hotter fires the forests don’t seem to be recovering. Same with places like the Amazon, the forest becomes savanna. This kind of devastation is being observed in so many ecosystems, from corals to kelp and mangrove forests, etc etc. Everything we need to survive is starting to crash around us and we just keep on walking into this future with our eyes open.

3 Replies170 Recommended

David Wallace-Wells | Climate Change Has Made Deadly Heat Waves Normal – The New York Times

Opinion Writer

It doesn’t take the end of the world to upend the way billions live in it. The punishing weather we are uneasily learning to call “normal” is doing that already.

Late last month, a heat wave swallowed South Asia, bringing temperatures to more than a billion people — one-fifth of the entire human population — 10 degrees warmer than the one imagined in the opening pages of Kim Stanley Robinson’s celebrated climate novel, “The Ministry for the Future,” where a similar event on the subcontinent quickly kills 20 million. It is now weeks later, and the heat wave is still continuing. Real relief probably won’t come before the monsoons in June.

Mercifully, according to the young science of “heat death,” air moisture is as important as temperature for triggering human mortality, and when thermometers hit 115 degrees Fahrenheit in India and 120 in Pakistan in April, the humidity was quite low. But even so, in parts of India, humidity was still high enough that if the day’s peak moisture had coincided with its peak heat, the combination would have produced “wet-bulb temperatures” — which integrate measures of both into a single figure — already at or past the limit for human survivability. Birds fell dead from the sky.

In Pakistan, the heat melted enough of the Shipsher glacier to produce what’s called a “glacial lake outburst flood,” destroying two power stations and the historic Hassanabad Bridge, on the road to China.”

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | NYT Comment:
This is an excellent column, thank you David Wallace-Wells. I do not care at all about the need for news organizations of all stripes to push their email newsletters. It smells of marketing intrusion, even if it isn’t. And furthermore, I read this paper for almost half the day, almost every day, so I have no time to study more of it when I go to crash through my emails. I fault the writer, and the paper, for not communicating clearly, if these newsletters, will also be printed in the paper, or always get printed at least in the on-line version of the paper. Who said, the truth is now more important than ever. Is this “newsletter” part of the paper? Or is it an attempt at developing a new revenue stream? Meanwhile, the earth is heating itself to our probable demise. I will remind the NYT of my request last year, that all your news and opinion pieces on climate change and the sixth extinction be removed from your paywall, like you did for Covid, since we are already in a climate crisis, and the public will probably reward you for your excellent work.
Respectfully,
David Lindsay Jr
InconvenientNews.net

Why Climate Change Makes It Harder to Fight Fire With Fire – The New York Times

“Summer is still more than a month and a half away, but enormous wildfires have already consumed landscapes and darkened skies in Arizona, New Mexico and Nebraska. Whipping winds threw flames across the terrain around Boulder, Colo., in December and March.

In Boulder, worries about wildfire used to be focused around August and late summer, when lightning strikes can ignite the timbers. “Now the focus is every month,” said John Potter, a deputy director at the city’s Open Space and Mountain Parks department.”

Climate Change Will Accelerate Viral Spillovers, Study Finds – The New York Times

“Over the next 50 years, climate change will drive thousands of viruses to jump from one species of mammal to another, according to a study published in Nature on Thursday. The shuffling of viruses among animals may increase the risk that one will jump into humans and cause a new pandemic, the researchers said.

Scientists have long warned that a warming planet may increase the burden of diseases. Malaria, for example, is expected to spread as the mosquitoes that carry it expand their range into warming regions. But climate change might also usher in entirely new diseases, by allowing pathogens to move into new host species.

“We know that species are moving, and when they do, they’re going to have these chances to share viruses,” said Colin Carlson, a biologist at Georgetown University and a co-author of the new study.”

How Climate Change Inflicts a Toll on Mental Health – The New York Times

“Experts and psychologists are racing to understand how the torments of a volatile, unpredictable planet shape our minds and mental health. In February, a major new study highlighted the mental health effects of climate change for the first time, saying that anxiety and stress from a changing climate were likely to increase in coming years.

In addition to those who have lost their homes to floods and megafires, millions have endured record-breaking heat waves. The crisis also hits home in subtle, personal ways — withered gardens, receding lakeshores and quiet walks without the birdsong that once accompanied them.

To understand what the effects of climate change feel like in America today, we heard from hundreds of people. In cities already confronting the long-term effects of climate change, and in drought-scarred ranches and rangeland, many are trying to cope with the strains of an increasingly precarious future.”

CC

PLAY AGAIN

Climate Change Could Increase Risk of Wildfires 50% by Century’s End – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/23/climate/climate-change-un-wildfire-report.html

“A landmark United Nations report has concluded that the risk of devastating wildfires around the world will surge in coming decades as climate change further intensifies what the report described as a “global wildfire crisis.”

The scientific assessment is the first by the organization’s environmental authority to evaluate wildfire risks worldwide. It was inspired by a string of deadly blazes around the globe in recent years, burning the American West, vast stretches of Australia and even the Arctic.

The images from those fires — cities glowing under orange skies, smoke billowing around tourist havens and heritage sites, woodland animals badly injured and killed — have become grim icons of this era of unsettled relations between humankind and nature.

“The heating of the planet is turning landscapes into tinderboxes,” said the report, which was published on Wednesday by the United Nations Environment Program.”

James B. Elsner | Did Climate Change Cause the Deadly Tornadoes? – The New York Times

Dr. Elsner is a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee, where his research focuses on tornadoes, hurricanes and climate change.

“I’m a tornado climatologist, and it is not unusual for people to ask me after a spate of storms like the ones that ripped through the center of the country on Friday whether climate change has anything to do with it. The answer is: It’s complicated.

We have started to detect changes in collective tornado activity, including more powerful storms, and are beginning to understand how these changes might be related to global warming. But much more work needs to be done to gain a fuller understanding of how the changing climate is influencing these deadly storms.

Let’s start with what we know. A tornado is a rapidly rotating column of air inside a thunderstorm. A thunderstorm that lasts more than 20 minutes and is energized by continuously rising air is called a supercell. The rising air is fueled by warm, moist conditions and changes in wind speed or direction associated with the approach of a frontal system where warm and cool air collide. The warm, moist air and that wind shear can generate a series of supercells, some of which produce tornadoes.”

Jon Waterman | Climate Change Is Thawing Arctic Alaska – The New York Times

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/07/opinion/climate-change-alaska.html

Mr. Waterman is a former national park ranger and the author of National Geographic’s “Atlas of the National Parks.”

“Secluded in the far-flung Gates of the Arctic National Park in northwestern Alaska, the flooded Noatak River pushed our raft downstream into a brisk wind. Caribou trails spider-webbed the hillsides, while cumulus clouds gathered like ripened fruit above a valley so vast that you could feel lost without binoculars and frequent map consultations.

To avoid crashing into the banks, I had to keep sharp eyes on the surging river and hands on the oars. Since extreme rainfall had lifted the river out of its banks (and delayed our floatplane flight in from Bettles, Alaska, for three days), every potential campsite had been sluiced over with silt and left soaking wet.

Thirty-six years had passed since I had last worked as a guide on the Noatak River. This year, instead of simply enjoying a float down memory lane in the wildest country imaginable, I was stunned by how climate change had radically altered the place I once knew.

Drawn to wild places all my life for spiritual renewal, I had chosen the Noatak as the ultimate wilderness trip to share with my 15-year-old son, Alistair, and another family. I had also come to escape the record heat and forest fire smoke in Colorado for what I believed would be a cool interlude in the Far North.”

Thomas Friedman | Biden and Climate Change Have Reshaped the Middle East – The New York Times

“So, I just have one question: Should I point out how President Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is already reshaping Middle East politics — mostly for the better? Or should I wait a few months and not take seriously yet what one Gulf diplomat drolly said to me of the recent festival of Arab-Arab and Arab-Iranian reconciliations: “Love is in the air.”

What the heck, let’s go for it now.

Because something is in the air that is powerfully resetting the pieces on the Middle East chess board — pieces that had been frozen in place for years. The biggest force shifting them was Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan and tell the region: “You’re home alone. If you’re looking for us, we’ll be in the Straits of Taiwan. Write often. Send oil. Bye.”

But a second factor is intensifying the pressure of America’s leaving: Mother Nature, manifesting herself in heat waves, droughts, demographic stresses, long-term falling oil prices and rising Covid-19 cases.

Indeed, I’d argue that we are firmly in a transition from a Middle East shaped by great powers to a Middle East shaped by Mother Nature. And this shift will force every leader to focus more on building ecological resilience to gain legitimacy instead of gaining it through resistance to enemies near and far. We are just at the start of this paradigm shift from resistance to resilience, as this region starts to become too hot, too populated and too water-starved to sustain any quality of life.”