California’s Drought

These are dry times for the Golden State. Explore California's historic drought in this multimedia series.

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How Much Precious California Water Did You Just Eat? Find the Water Footprint of Your Food

Courtesy LA Times

Courtesy LA Times

CORRECTION: This article originally stated that soy milk was the most water-intensive drink. The  value, as initially listed by the LA Times, was for the soybean ingredient, not the actual final soy milk product. Soy milk actually has a smaller water footprint than most other processed drinks.

Looking to minimize your water footprint at the dinner table? How about a wholesome meal of eggs, carrots, potatoes and beer?

Nutritious and downright water efficient (although perhaps not age-appropriate for the whole family).  Continue reading

How Much Water Do Californians Use and What Does 25 Percent Less Look Like?

Photo courtesy of NASA

Photo courtesy of NASA

Feeling a bit dry lately? It’s not just your imagination.

California is mired in its fourth year of historic drought, with snowpack in the Sierra Nevada — which supplies about a third of the state’s water — at 6 percent of the long-term April average. Continue reading

Getting Hot in Here: The Beat of California’s Four-Year Drought

Drought infographicFlorida might not like to talk about climate change, but here in drought-stricken California, the topic’s not so taboo. Mired in year four of the worst drought on record, Californians are witnessing the climate literally change before their eyes. As the state nears the end of one of the warmest, driest winters on record, with Sierra snowpack and statewide reservoir water levels at alarming lows, the evidence is pretty hard to ignore.

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Why California’s Drought is America’s Problem

Despite a few recent downpours, California remains stuck in one of the most severe statewide droughts on record.

But it’s far from just California’s problem. The state produces a huge percentage of the nation’s agriculture — nearly half of all fruits, vegetables and nuts, by some estimates. And that requires a massive amount of water: farms here use about 80 percent of the state’s developed water supply.

Much is riding on the upcoming rainy season. Because if not enough water remains valuable for farmers to adequately irrigate their land, the impact will likely be felt far beyond the state’s borders.
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Burned Out: Why Western Wildfires Have Gotten Bigger, Hotter and More Out of Control [Comic]

The 2014 fire season was predicted to be a doozy, and so far it hasn’t failed to disappoint. Prolonged drought conditions throughout the West, felt particularly hard across the Golden State, have resulted in a string of large, destructive and extremely costly blazes, charring huge swaths of forest in Northern California and the Northwest and leaving local and federal fire prevention agencies dangerously strapped for staffing, funding and resources. As of September 4, over 38,000 fires had been reported since the beginning of 2014, burning more than 2.7 million acres, according to the National Interagency Fire Center.

Why has fire season gotten so much longer, more dangerous and increasingly expensive? Comic journalist Andy Warner explains the heated history. Continue reading

What Does Climate Change in California Look Like? [Infographic]

Includes infographic
California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

California Environmental Protection Agency (full-size graphic below)

Be it torrential rains or severe droughts, huge wildfires or rising sea-levels, every corner of the United States has been — and will continue to be — impacted by the effects of human-induced climate change.

That’s the scenario presented last week by a team of scientists who described a series of sweeping environmental changes of near biblical proportions.

The government report, known as the National Climate Assessment, notes that many of these changes have resulted from an average temperature increase of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over the last century. It warns that U.S. temperatures could increase by more than 10 degrees by the end of this century if carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase. Continue reading

Rationing the Rain: How California Distributes Its Water in Dry Times

Includes cartoon infographic

Distributing enough water to everyone has never been an easy task in perennially thirsty California. But making sure that residents, farms and the environment are all sufficiently hydrated becomes a particularly difficult balancing act during prolonged periods of drought. Simply put, there’s just not enough to go around. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner — whose last piece focused on California agriculture — explains the complicated math of water distribution in the Golden State. View below as a slideshow or full graphic.  Continue reading

Parched Produce: California Agriculture in a State of Drought

Includes cartoon infographic

These are bone dry times for California. Even with the recent rains, the state is still mired in one of its worst droughts in recorded history. And that spells trouble for the vast agriculture industry here. Cartoon journalist Andy Warner explains. View it as a slideshow or in full-length format below. Continue reading