NASA satellite imagery comparing California’s snowpack in January 2013 to January 2014. GIF animation created by Rhett A. Butler_Mongabay.com.
If you live in California, snowpack is a pretty crucial part of your existence.
That’s because about a third of the state’s water supply comes from snow that accumulates in the mountains, mostly during the winter months. In fact, California receives roughly half of its entire year’s water supply between December and February alone. Continue reading →
A parched Folsom Lake, at less than 20 percent of capacity (photo courtesy of National Weather Service).
This is not a good time for umbrella merchants in California.
2013 was one of the driest years on record in the state. And January – usually among the wettest months — has failed to provide any relief. With the precipitous drop in reservoir levels, Gov. Jerry Brown recently declared a statewide drought emergency, calling this “perhaps the worst drought California has ever seen since records began being kept about 100 years ago,” Continue reading →
Food. It’s almost as if we like wasting it as much as we enjoy eating it. About a third of all food in the world that’s produced for human consumption (roughly 1.2 billion tons) is lost or wasted, based on United Nations’ estimates — even as millions still suffer from chronic hunger. In the United States, nearly 40 percent of the food supply gets tossed in the garbage, much of it piled in rapidly rising mountains of trash. In his latest cartoon infographic, comic journalist Andy Warner sniffs out an alarmingly rotten issue — one that might make you think twice before tossing that pizza crust. (Click on the link below to view in individual panes.) Continue reading →
Last week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation to create California’s first set of regulations on hydraulic fracturing. The controversial extraction technique, commonly known as fracking, involves the high-pressure injection of water, sand and chemicals into deep shale formations in order to create fractures that release reserves of oil or natural gas.
While fracking operations in the Northeast generally extract natural gas, in California, oil is the big prize. Continue reading →
Click on the fire icons in the interactive map below for updated information about each currently active fire in the U.S. Then zoom in to see the actual perimeter of the fires.
As of Friday, August 9, 36 wildfires were burning in eight western states and Alaska, including six in California and nine new large fires in Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming, according to the National Interagency Fire Center. Already this year, more than 2.5 million acres have gone up in smoke — an area bigger than Yellowstone National Park. And that’s actually a lot smaller than its been at this point in some recent years (last year, almost twice as many acres had burned by early August). Continue reading →
Rampant overfishing in the world’s oceans has led to a dramatic decline in big “predatory” fish populations — the one’s we eat, like tuna and cod – while creating an overabundance of small fish.
That’s according to data from a 2011 regression analysis by scientists at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre, who used more than 200 marine ecosystem models to show evidence that big fish populations dropped by more than two-thirds over the last century. More than half that decline occurred within the last 40 years.
“Overfishing has absolutely had a ‘when cats are away, the mice will play’ effect on our oceans,” said Dr Villy Christensen, who led the study. “By removing the large, predatory species from the ocean, small forage fish have been left to thrive.”
The Nature of Overfishing, a “web aquarium” created by graphic designer Sam Slover, cleverly visualizes this data. Slide the handle at the bottom of the graphic to see what a century of overfishing looks like beneath the surface.
A gas-mask wearing demonstrator during the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. (Associated Press)
Happy Earth Day!
To start, a quick quiz:
1. Who said the following quote:
“Restoring nature to its natural state is a cause beyond party and beyond factions. It has become a common cause of all the people of this country. It is a cause of particular concern to young Americans, because they, more than we, will wreak the grim consequences of our failure to act on programs which are needed now if we are to prevent disaster later.”
2. Which organization contributed the most money and support to the first Earth Day?
(Yup, you guessed it: you gotta read the post to find the answers.)
Last October California began a dramatic overhaul of its severely overcrowded prison system. Assembly Bill 109 – known as realignment – had the objective of shedding more than 30,000 inmates from in-state prisons and significantly cutting the prison budget. At the time the law took effect, there were more than 143,000 inmates behind bars in California’s 33 prisons. That’s almost twice the system’s design capacity. Meanwhile, California’s Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation received about $10 billion a year from the state’s thinning general fund – over 11 percent of last year’s entire spending plan, more than was spent on the University of California and California State University systems combined. Continue reading →
About two-thirds of Californians drink, bathe, brush their teeth, and flush their toilets with water that comes from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. That’s roughly 25 million people who get at least some portion of their hydration from one big triangular watering hole.
But ask most folks what the Delta is, and you’re guaranteed to get a lot of blank stares. One recent poll found that about 4 out 5 people in California had pretty much no idea about it.
It’s pretty easy to take for granted that water magically pours out of the tap when you turn your faucet on. But chances are, that H20 has gone through a pretty serious journey to reach you – and it’s probably worth knowing where it comes from, and how safe the supply is. Continue reading →