The ongoing drought in the western United States is evident in the water levels of Shasta Lake, a large reservoir in northern California that counts on rainfall for replenishment. Low water levels can lead to hazardous conditions for local recreation. Many more people are affected by how this limited water resource is allocated for ecological, urban, and agricultural needs downstream.
The Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) on Terra acquired these simulated true-color images of Shasta Lake. The top image shows the lake on September 14, 2005, and the bottom image was acquired on September 2, 2014.
On the day the first image was acquired, the lake’s elevation was 309.4 meters (1,015 feet); nine years later (second image), the lake level had dropped to an elevation of 278.3 meters (913 feet). The water elevation in the reservoir at full capacity would be 325.2 meters (1,067 feet). Light tan colors along the shore are new beach areas that have been uncovered as the water level has dropped. Click on the image comparison tool to see how the shoreline has changed.
The reservoir began to take shape in 1950 with the completion of Shasta Dam, visible in the lower left corner. At the time, it was the second-tallest concrete dam in the world, standing 183.5 meters (602 feet) high and 148.4 meters (487 feet) long. The dam traps water flowing from Squaw Creek and the McCloud, Pit, and Sacramento rivers, as well as smaller creeks and streams. Water released from the dam flows into a continuation of the Sacramento River and, ultimately, into the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and San Francisco Bay.
Having just watched this (in the UK), if you didn’t I hope you have a chance to catch up. POTUS did good.
(Link updated. It is not easy getting Google to show TV links from other countries!)
Many people on this planet are making efforts to reduce their carbon footprint and live a more sustainable, eco-friendly life. Little by little this is making a small difference but the world is a big place. To significantly reduce CO2 emissions it needs a lot more people to make small yet important changes to their lives.
It also requires the governments of every country to step up and take responsibility. Not only for their part in letting it get to this stage but also in making strides towards providing cleaner, renewable energy and further reductions. With the power they all possess there are a number of actions that must be taken to create a sustainable, greener and happier planet.
Set Targets and Meet Them
The governments in a lot of Western countries have already set timely targets for reducing their reliance on fossil fuels. The UK signed up to European Union targets to produce 15% of its energy through renewable sources by 2020. The eventual aim will be to keep pushing that percentage up, but for the moment it should slowly reduce carbon emissions.
As well as setting targets, governments must meet and exceed them, or be held to account if they don’t. The UK is currently on track to meet its 2020 goal but not every other nation is. They have the power to make great change and must push it through.
Create Affordable Home Improvements
A lot of people would love to make their homes as energy efficient as possible but struggle to afford the costs of making any changes. With many still feeling the effects of the financial crisis it can be hard to pay current bills without the added cost of installing solar panels on the roof.
In order to meet environmental targets energy grants and subsidies are being offered by some energy suppliers and governments. This encourages constituents to create more efficient homes, thus reducing energy usage on a much larger scale.
Widen Access to Renewable Energy
For many homeowners the only way to access renewable energy directly is to install solar panels or wind turbines in their own home or garden. Widening access to renewable energy so it is available to everyone at an affordable price will have a huge impact on where the majority of our power is sourced.
Given a choice many would choose renewable energy over fossil fuels if both were available at a similar price. Governments have the power to set limits and increase access to renewable energy for their populations.
Wake Up To the Benefits
As well as making the earth a greener place these actions will have a knock-on effect benefitting the government in other ways. Investing in renewable energy will create thousands of new jobs which is always a positive after the financial crash. It will also result in lower costs per unit of energy to produce than using fossil fuels once the equipment is in place. Waking up to these benefits should provide the final impetus for governments to make changes for a greener planet.
By Bruce Finley
The Denver Post
The Obama administration linked climate change to human health Tuesday, saying unchecked greenhouse gas pollution could cause 57,000 deaths a year by 2100 from bad air and 12,000 from extreme temperatures — findings Colorado lawmakers addressed at a forum.
“The changing climate that we’re causing is an existential threat,” said Rep. Max Tyler, D-Lakewood.
Commerce City residents living close to industry “will likely have a shorter life span,” said Rep. Dominick Moreno, the Democrat who represents the area.
The lawmakers gathered at a forum at the University of Denver with federal agency leaders as the White House and Environmental Protection Agency unveiled a report that quantifies impacts of climate change, including billions a year in damages from wildfires, rising sea levels and drought.
The EPA is targeting coal-fired power plants, trying to cut U.S. carbon emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels within 15 years. President Obama is negotiating with other nations for reductions before a summit in Paris.
Rising temperatures favor drought, which brings dust, wildfires that release particulates, and increased ozone pollution, EPA regional climate change coordinator Laura Farris said.
“Our concern here is ground-level ozone. … Ozone is exacerbated by oil and gas development, even in rural areas,” Farris said. “We’re concerned about the link between rising temperatures and ground-level ozone.”
The team didn’t catalog specific policies and their results, which would vary widely in their details from state to state and from case to case. Rather, they analyzed a range of standardized state-level data compiled since 1990, including carbon emissions, as reported by the Environmental Protection Agency; population and gross state product; and “environmentalism,” as measured by congressional voting data compiled by the League of Conservation Voters.
While members of the U.S. Congress are not directly involved in writing state environmental policy, Frank said, the researchers reasoned that voting records would reflect the orientation of their states.
The researchers looked at the statistics in two different ways. First, to get a broad snapshot view, they performed an analysis across all of the states using 1990 data. By and large, they found that states with higher environmentalism ratings had lower emissions, after controlling for population and other factors.
RANCHO SANTA FE, CALIF. — Drought or no drought, Steve Yuhas resents the idea that it is somehow shameful to be a water hog. If you can pay for it, he argues, you should get your water.
People “should not be forced to live on property with brown lawns, golf on brown courses or apologize for wanting their gardens to be beautiful,” Yuhas fumed recently on social media. “We pay significant property taxes based on where we live,” he added in an interview. “And, no, we’re not all equal when it comes to water.”
Yuhas lives in the ultra-wealthy enclave of Rancho Santa Fe, a bucolic Southern California hamlet of ranches, gated communities and country clubs that guzzles five times more water per capita than the statewide average. In April, after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) called for a 25 percent reduction in water use, consumption in Rancho Santa Fe went up by 9 percent.
But a moment of truth is at hand for Yuhas and his neighbors, and all of California will be watching: On July 1, for the first time in its 92-year history, Rancho Santa Fe will be subject to water rationing.
“It’s no longer a ‘You can only water on these days’ ” situation, said Jessica Parks, spokeswoman for the Santa Fe Irrigation District, which provides water service to Rancho Santa Fe and other parts of San Diego County. “It’s now more of a ‘This is the amount of water you get within this billing period. And if you go over that, there will be high penalties.’ ”
So far, the community’s 3,100 residents have not felt the wrath of the water police. Authorities have issued only three citations for violations of a first round of rather mild water restrictions announced last fall. In a place where the median income is $189,000, where PGA legend Phil Mickelson once requested a separate water meter for his chipping greens, where financier Ralph Whitworth last month paid the Rolling Stones $2 million to play at a local bar, the fine, at $100, was less than intimidating.
All that is about to change, however. Under the new rules, each household will be assigned an essential allotment for basic indoor needs. Any additional usage — sprinklers, fountains, swimming pools — must be slashed by nearly half for the district to meet state-mandated targets.
Residents who exceed their allotment could see their already sky-high water bills triple. And for ultra-wealthy customers undeterred by financial penalties, the district reserves the right to install flow restrictors — quarter-size disks that make it difficult to, say, shower and do a load of laundry at the same time.
In extreme cases, the district could shut off the tap altogether.
The restrictions are among the toughest in the state, and residents of Rancho Santa Fe are feeling aggrieved.
“I think we’re being overly penalized, and we’re certainly being overly scrutinized by the world,” said Gay Butler, an interior designer out for a trail ride on her show horse, Bear. She said her water bill averages about $800 a month.
“It angers me because people aren’t looking at the overall picture,” Butler said. “What are we supposed to do, just have dirt around our house on four acres?”
NOTE: There are “elk” pictured in this video when the narrator is referring to “deer.” This is because the narrator is British and the British word for “elk” is “red deer” or “deer” for short. The scientific report this is based on refers to elk so we wanted to be accurate with the truth of the story.
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” - John Muir
When wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park in the United States after being absent nearly 70 years, the most remarkable “trophic cascade” occurred. What is a trophic cascade and how exactly do wolves change rivers? George Monbiot explains in this movie remix.
Narration from TED: “For more wonder, rewild the world” by George Monbiot. Watch the full talk, here: bit.ly
“Unfoldment, Revealment, Evolution, Exposition, Integration, Arson” by Chris Zabriskie (bit.ly)
This video was edited by Steve Agnos with editorial assistance from Chris Agnos (who also conceived the idea for the video) the brothers behind Sustainable Man.
For any concerns or questions, you may contact us at sustainableman.org
FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the US Copyright Law.
A Texas group is helping prevent hunger and climate change at the same time.
LOS ANGELES — Farmers with rights to California water dating back to the Gold Rush will face sharp cutbacks, the first reduction in their water use since 1977, state officials announced Friday. State officials announced that rights dating to 1903 would be restricted, but said such restrictions will grow as the summer months go on, with the state facing a prolonged drought that shows few signs of easing.
“Demand in our key rivers systems are outstripping supply,” said Caren Trgovcich, the State Water Resources Control Board’s chief deputy director. “Other cuts may be imminent.”
The cut impacts nearly 300 water right holders in the San Joaquin and Sacramento watersheds and delta whose claim to water came after 1903. State officials said that further curtailments are being considered weekly.
The restrictions could cause the widespread fallowing of cropland in areas that have so far been largely exempt from cutbacks. The impact of the cuts are likely to be felt far more broadly than they were in the 1970s, because the state now has more authority and ability to measure how water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is used.
While officials have said for months that water for so-called “senior” rights holders — those at the front of the line — would be curtailed, they had repeatedly put off such a decision amid the cooler and wetter weather of the last several weeks.
Gov. Jerry Brown received repeated and intense criticism after he issued mandatory cuts on urban water use but exempted farmers from the cut. In a normal year, agriculture uses about 80 percent of the water consumed in the state. Farmers in the Central Valley have already had their surface water allotment diminish or erased for the last several years and instead relied on water pumped from the ground.
LOS ANGELES — In the California desert, Joshua tree seedlings are shriveling up and dying before they get the chance to put down strong roots.
The Los Angeles Times reports (lat.ms ) that University of California, Riverside ecologist Cameron Barrows says the current drought has hastened the decline of the species.
Barrows says the hot, dry weather hurts the trees, but the bigger problem is what little rainfall there is evaporates faster.
Joshua Tree National Park has an average precipitation rate of about 4 inches per year, but so far this year only 1.71 inches of rain have fallen.
Scientists predict that the trees will lose 90 percent of their current range in the park by the end of the century if the warmer, drier conditions continue.