Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Change the Trajectory

$91 million. That's no number to laugh at. Actually, that's how much the US Forest Service has spent so far in fighting the King Fire.

Recent rain in Northern California has helped firefighters contain the massive wildfire in recent days. Yet while damper weather has helped firefighters lately, drier and warmer weather is just around the corner. And that means the region will once again be at risk for more wildfires.

And that's not all. Lake Tahoe and the Truckee River have been drying up throughout the summer.

While Lake Tahoe hasn't reached a record low just yet, it's too close for comfort.

However down south, Lake Mead has fallen to a record low water level. This means Southern Nevada is perilously close to a new round of water cuts. And this may not even be the end of it. In fact, this may only be the start of a prolonged "megadrought" for the entire Southwest region.

Any guesses as to what's making this painful drought into a perilous "megadrought"? If you guessed climate change, you're likely correct. A recent Stanford University study funded by the National Science Foundation just confirmed what we've been fearing.

Earlier this month, Cornell University, the University of Arizona, and the US Geological Survey released a study showing how nearly the entire West, along with the southern Great Plains states, Texas, and Louisiana, are all at great risk of an extended megadrought going forward due to climate change. Scared yet? We should be.

We also need to realize what we must do to both adapt to this new reality and prevent our own extinction. It may be "radical", but it's pretty much our only hope. Global carbon emissions just hit a new record high. We must change this trajectory, or else the $91 million spent fighting the King Fire will soon be a mere drop in the bucket.

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