Today is Friday. Welcome to Equilibrium, a newsletter tracking the intensifying global battle for a sustainable future. Subscribe here.
California Congressman Adam Gray (D) has asked for an explanation of how the state has “lost” about 228 billion gallons of water, enough to fill more than 345,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools, according to ABC7 in San Francisco.
Gray asked state auditors to investigate the California Department of Water Resources and the State Water Control Board to investigate discrepancies in California and local agencies’ forecasts of water runoff in California, ABC7 reported.
“We can’t get back the lost water, but we can certainly take steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” Gray said.
In response, the Department of Water Resources told ABC7 that the agency “has invested millions of dollars in new forecasting tools and established new partnerships with local, state and federal agencies to coordinate all of our resources”, It added that managing drought requires a concerted effort by all parties.
Today, we’re going to explore another water issue that challenges much of the West — new findings suggest that extreme rainfall events following wildfires could more than double by the end of the 21st century. Then we’ll look at the fight between Florida Republicans and Disney over a controversial education bill.
For Equilibrium, we are Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin. Please send tips or feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Post-wildfire rainfall to double by end of century: study
Post-wildfire extreme rainfall events — on the rise due to climate change — in western U.S. states could more than double by the end of the 21st century and pose a serious threat to human life, a new study finds.
This confluence of severe weather could wreak havoc on the surrounding landscape, endangering not only plants and animals but also the people and communities who live nearby, scientists warned in a Science Advances article on Friday.
Why is this combination so disruptive? When such precipitation floods an area that has just experienced a fire, the soil can’t easily hold water — leading to major damage such as mudslides, mudslides and flash floods, the authors said.
Greenhouse gas emissions make things worse: The authors found that by 2100, if Americans continued to emit excess greenhouse gases, extreme rainfall would be eight times more likely to occur within a year of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest.
In California, the rate of such consecutive extreme events will more than double.
“Critical Threat”: “Given the devastation wrought by such events, this is very concerning,” lead author Danielle Touma, a postdoctoral fellow at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), said in a statement.
The National Science Research Center in Boulder, Colorado, was in the footprint of the non-seasonal “NCAR fire” that rocked the region last weekend but caused no casualties.
“Obviously, we need to better understand the risks, as this poses a significant threat to people and infrastructure,” Touma added.
“Extreme rainfall events following fires”
While scientists have recognized a link between climate change and increased wildfires in the West, and a separate link between climate change and extreme rainfall, the convergence of “post-fire extreme rainfall events” was surprising, Touma said.
Touma and her colleagues said that to conduct their study, they used advanced computer models of past and future climate scenarios, as well as indices of weather variables that play a role in wildfire risk.
Multi-year combined risks remain: The authors observed that after a fire, the risk of mudslides can persist for three to five years, while the risk of flash floods can persist for five to eight years, as it takes time for vegetation to regenerate.
While it is difficult to predict heavy rainfall in burnt areas, such storm systems could also have devastating effects, scientists have warned.
Some examples of these effects? For example, in Montecito, California, a mudslide following a fire in 2018 killed 23 people and caused extensive property damage, according to the study.
Meanwhile, the authors note that heavy rains in Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon last year led to massive mudslides in the just-burned area — trapping more than 100 people and shutting down parts of nearby highways for weeks.
What conclusions did the author draw? Across the West, they found that more than half of extreme wildfire events in a year are accompanied by such rainfall.
They also found that more than 90 percent of extreme fire events in their three key regions (Colorado, California, and the Pacific Northwest) will have at least three extreme rainfall events within five years.
Climate change plays a central role: A key factor in the convergence of extreme fire and rainfall events is climate change — and its propensity to outpace the seasonality of these weather events, according to the authors.
For example, they explain that Colorado and the Pacific Northwest are now seeing more extreme rainfall in the early fall, approaching the May-September fire peak.
A key gap is closing: “The gap between fire and rain seasons is getting shorter,” Touma said. “One disaster season is happening another disaster.”
To read the full story, click here.
🎧 tune into rise, now available as a podcast. This is politics – no screaming.
Disney faces internal and external pressure in Florida
Disney, one of Florida’s largest employers, is under growing pressure over its positioning of the state’s new law restricting the teaching of gender identity in elementary classrooms.
As the law was enacted on Monday, Disney called for “repeal by the legislature or dismissal in court,” and emphasized the company’s “commitment to supporting national and state organizations working to make it happen.”
Disney’s announcement represents a big shift: According to The Hollywood Reporter, there have been tense meetings between Disney employees over the past few weeks over concerns about the bill and its corporate leadership.
The company had donated $12,000 to the bill’s main sponsor, Newsweek reported, and had refused to oppose it until this week — but mounting pressure from employees prompted it to make a public statement.
How does it relate to sustainability? A big part of social sustainability is studying how business decisions affect workers, and the Disney case raises questions about corporate governance.
Republicans in Florida are threatening to rescind Disney’s special status — which allows independent management of Disney’s Orland-area theme park — after the entertainment giant broke the law this week.
In this case, Disney’s latest response — which many LGBT critics say is too late — illustrates the difficult calculation between the company’s long-standing support for the bill’s authors and its increasingly vocal employees.
The pressure is especially acute given Disney’s growing pressure on employees to relocate to the company’s headquarters in Orlando, The Verge reports.
What Republicans are saying: DeSantis said Tuesday of the new law that Disney “doesn’t appear to have had a problem getting it passed,” Deadline reported.
“If it was an insult, why didn’t they say it in the first place?” he added.
A growing problem facing businesses
Similar bills are gaining popularity in Republican-led states, meaning Disney won’t be the last company to see a clash between its employees and political leaders over conservative-backed legislation.
What does this bill say? A key element, according to the New York Times, is to ban gender and sexuality education through third grade and limit it to “age-appropriate” material for all other students.
The Tallahassee Democrat noted that critics say the highly subjective language allows school districts to use it as a means of injunction or censorship for children of all ages.
“We won’t bend our knees”: According to the Tallahassee Democrats, Republicans described the opposition as a California company trying to hard-arm the state government.
State Rep. Spencer Roach (R) announced Wednesday that he is in talks to rescind the special administrative district that allows Disney World to exist as a mid-state, Democrats reported.
“If Disney wants to embrace the awakening ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County [Fla.],” Roach wrote.
Is this a big deal? huge. “It’s going to be a disaster for Disney,” said Florida-based political analyst Jim Clark. “One of the reasons they came here in the mid-’60s was that the legislature promised they could have self-government.”
Expect more of these controversies: Many Republican-led state legislatures have reportedly seized on “parental choice” in gender and sex education, with 15 states having similar bills.
follow up friday
U.S. allocates $420 million for state water infrastructure projects
- California Governor Gavin Newsom has decided to step up water conservation measures as the drought worsens. The U.S. Department of the Interior announced Thursday that it will invest $420 million in other drought-affected states including New Mexico, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, according to the Associated Press. water supply projects.
White House invokes Defense Production Act over EV battery materials
Supply disruptions in Shanghai are getting worse – threatening wider disruptions
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