The Razor’s Edge of A Warming World — GQ Magazine

CO2 at Mauna Loa. Credit: NOAA

Click the link to read the article on the GQ website (Emily Atkin AND Caitlin Looby). Here’s an excerpt:

This reality is one that all of the earth’s inhabitants are now grappling with: If we want to preserve the places we love, we have to focus on moving away from fossil fuels immediately. The latest United Nations climate report, released in February, made it clear that irreversible destruction can no longer be avoided. The question is no longer “How can we fix climate change?” It’s “How much irreversible planetary damage are we willing to accept in order to continue extracting and burning fossil fuels?”


The hottest temperature ever recorded on the planet, 56.7 degrees Celsius (134 degrees Fahrenheit), was in California’s Death Valley. But Jacobabad, in Pakistan’s Sindh province, might be the world’s hottest—and perhaps the most unlivable—city. Summer temperatures routinely exceed 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit); according to a recent study, Jacobabad—which has a population of 190,000 and a surrounding district of 1 million—is one of two cities on earth where temperatures and humidity levels have reached a point at which the human body can no longer cool itself, and has done so on four separate occasions…

Coral reefs are vital to both human societies and the ocean’s ecosystem—they protect shorelines from storm surges and erosion, and serve as nurseries for marine life. They’re also frighteningly imperiled by warming waters, which produce conditions that turn them a ghostly white and expose them to a blanket of algae. That’s what Kim Cobb saw one day in 2016 when she swam up to the reef in the central Pacific’s Line Island chain that she’d been studying for 18 years. A heat wave had killed or bleached 95 percent of the corals…

Last July, Julie Johnson walked around her vineyard in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena. The grapevines looked exhausted, and the nearby land was scarred by wildfires. But it was hardly shocking: The western U.S. is in the midst of a mega-drought, the worst in over a millennium. California’s 2020 wildfire season burned 42 percent of the land in Napa County. And now warmer temperatures are changing the soil, and the wine itself…

The roughly 15,000 Inuit who inhabit Qikiqtaaluk—also known as the Baffin Region, an area mostly composed of Arctic islands between Greenland and the Canadian mainland—are known for their resilience. In 2019, the Canadian government formally apologized for years of traumatic colonial practices, including forced relocation and the separation of parents and children. But now the Qikiqtani are facing a different threat. They depend on sea ice for hunting seals—a tradition that serves important economic and cultural functions. That ice is now deteriorating across Baffin Bay, including the area around Qikiqtarjuaq, an island home to just under 600 people. Locals acknowledge that reduced and less stable sea ice has made hunting more difficult…

One of the ski regions most affected by climate change is the Italian Alps, where some 200 resorts have already shuttered. And that trend could soon get worse: One study forecasts that with 1.5 degrees of warming, Italy would see about 750,000 fewer overnight stays each winter, and about 1.25 million fewer stays in a 2-degree scenario…

With temperatures that regularly reach minus 40 degrees Celsius, Yakutsk, in eastern Siberia, is known as the coldest city in the world. Like much of the surrounding Yakutia region, the city sits atop the permafrost, a layer of soil that traditionally remains frozen year-round. But the permafrost here has begun to thaw, setting in motion a potentially catastrophic sinking. “The difference between 1.5 degrees Celsius and 2 degrees Celsius, for this kind of permafrost, is the difference between life and death,” says Vladimir Romanovsky, a geophysicist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, who has studied the Yakutian permafrost. Particularly concerning, Romanovsky says, is the type of permafrost found in Yakutia, which contains abnormally large amounts of ice. “If it’s a huge amount of ice, then all this foundation will turn into a lake,” he says. “Imagine if it’s on a slope.”


Stretching across southern Africa, the Miombo Woodlands—named after the umbrella-shaped miombo trees—are home to elephants, lions, leopards, spotted hyenas, buffalo, antelope, and giraffes. But it’s becoming a less hospitable habitat: Rainfall is now more sporadic and intense, while the shifting climate threatens to increase wildfires and imperil a number of the region’s charismatic megafauna, like the critically endangered black rhinoceros, already long threatened by poaching…

The world’s islands are, of course, under threat from rising sea levels, but many of those same places face another peril exacerbated by climate change: hurricanes. That danger was made shockingly clear in 2017, when a pair of hurricanes tore through Antigua and Barbuda days apart; Irma damaged 81 percent of Barbuda’s buildings. “Our region was decimated by Irma and Maria,” Gaston Browne, the country’s prime minister, tells GQ.

The latest Confluence Newsletter for April 2022 is hot off the presses from @CWCB_DNR

Rancher Bryan Bernal irrigates a field that depends on Colorado River water near Loma, Colo. Credit: William Woody

Click the link to read the newsletter on the Colorado Water Conservation Board website. Here’s an excerpt:

Colorado Water Conservation Board to Focus on Water Resilience within the State as Demand Management Investigation Paused

In March, the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB) decided to pause its Demand Management Feasibility Investigation in Colorado. Demand Management is the concept of temporary, voluntary, and compensated reductions in the consumptive use of water in the Colorado River Basin. Colorado has been a leader among the Upper Basin States in the feasibility investigation, gathering information from Colorado water users, stakeholders, and the public since 2019, and developing a Roadmap for answering questions in the future. CWCB stands ready to continue its investigation when more information becomes available from the ongoing feasibility investigations in the other Upper Basin States. All Upper Basin States would need to agree to a program if it is to be established, and any such program would depend upon a storage pool in Lake Powell, which could only be used to ensure ongoing Compact compliance. This pause provides an opportunity for CWCB to focus on what can be done in the more immediate future within Colorado. CWCB will consider a full range of mechanisms that would not be dependent on other states or the broader Colorado River System and could be implemented by and within Colorado, with the purpose of protecting Colorado’s water users through increased hydrologic shortage and variability.

Californians urged to save #water as state faces dismal #snowpack in Sierra Nevada — The Los Angeles Times

Credit: California Department of Water Resources

Click the link to read the article on the Los Angeles Times website (Ian James). Here’s an excerpt:

The mountain snowpack, as measured by snow sensors across the Sierras, now stands at just 38% of the long-term average. State officials stood on bare ground at a snow survey site in the mountains on Friday, saying the paltry snowpack reflects the state’s accelerating water challenges with climate change…

The levels of most of California’s biggest reservoirs, from Shasta Lake to San Luis Reservoir, measure far below average…

Gov. Gavin Newsom this week issued an order for urban water suppliers to implement more aggressive conservation measures, requiring them to activate “Level 2” of their local drought contingency plans to prepare for shortages. Water deliveries have also been cut back for many farming areas in the state this year. Nemeth said those cutbacks are expected to lead to more farmland being left dry and unplanted.

Warmer temperatures brought on by climate change have been making droughts more intense in California and across the West. Scientists have found that the extreme dryness since 2000 in the West, from Montana to northern Mexico, now ranks as the driest 22-year period in at least 1,200 years and has been worsened by the heating of the planet. The past three years have been among California’s driest on record.

West Drought Monitor map March 29, 2022.

Upper #SanJuanRiver #snowpack report (April 3, 2022) — The #PagosaSprings Sun #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

Click the link to read the article on the Pagosa Springs Sun website (Josh Pike):

Snowpack report

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Water and Climate Center’s snowpack report, the Wolf Creek summit, at 11,000 feet of elevation, had 34.0 inches of snow water equivalent as of 10 a.m. on Wednes- day, March 30. That amount is up 0.2 inches from the snow water equivalent depth of 33.8 inches reported Wednesday, March 23. The Wolf Creek summit is at 121 percent of the March 30 snowpack median.

The San Miguel, Dolores, Animas and San Juan river basins were at 93 percent of the March 30 median in terms of snowpack.

San Juan Water Conservancy District and Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District discuss future of Dry Gulch Reservoir — The #PagosaSprings Sun #SanJuanRiver

View to the south into the snaking West Fork of the San Juan River as seen from US 160, halfway up to the summit of Wolf Creek Pass. By User:Erikvoss, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Click the link to read the article on the Pagosa Springs Sun website (Josh Pike). Here’s an excerpt:

At their March 10 joint meeting, the boards of the San Juan Water Conservancy District (SJWCD) and Pagosa Area Water and Sanitation District (PAWSD) discussed the future of the Dry Gulch reservoir.

The meeting opened with SJWCD board president Al Pfister providing an update on the organization’s activities related to Dry Gulch.

“We haven’t really … done a lot of work in the past two years,” Pfister said.

He continued to explain that SJWCD had unanimously voted to hire Wilson Water Group to perform a water needs assessment study at its meeting earlier in the day. This study will cost $15,000 and will be completed over a three- month period. The study will examine the mu- nicipal, agricultural, industrial, environmental and recreational water needs of the community and assess how these needs are likely to change in the future given the population increases the county has recently experienced…

Secrist provided an update on SJWCD’s work with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) to potentially nominate the Dry Gulch site to be a state park site. According to Secrist, this process began in the summer of 2021 when Secrist was approached by CPW representatives about the possibility of locating a state park at the Dry Gulch site…He explained that the state park application would need to be submitted by June 1 and that CPW is interested in creating the park whether or not the site contains a reservoir.

University of #Denver Water Law Review Symposium, April 14-15, 2022: 100 Years of the #ColoradoRiver Compact: Flowing into a New Era #COriver #aridification

Colorado River headwaters tributary in Rocky Mountain National Park photo via Greg Hobbs.

Click the link to register for the symposium.

Here’s the release:

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law is home to the Water Law Review, the premier water law journal in the nation. This year, the annual Water Law Review symposium will celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the Colorado River Compact, a document designed to guide seven western states and Mexico in allocating and sharing water from the river.

Water is a precious resource, and the Colorado River is becoming more important than ever before due to climate change and growth of western cities putting pressure on an over-allocated resource. To learn from history, the symposium will first discuss what went into drafting the Compact 100 years ago. As a foundation for panel discussions, we will have a hydrology report to learn the state of the river and the status of this precious resource. Colorado River professionals will then come together from each of the basin states, Mexico, and the Tribes to discuss how the Compact has affected each of their communities, and how we can continue to work together to share a diminishing resource.

From the 2018 Tribal Water Study, this graphic shows the location of the 29 federally-recognized tribes in the Colorado River Basin. Map credit: USBR

We have created a unique opportunity to hear perspectives from such distinguished speakers, including our keynote speaker: Tanya Trujillo, the Assistance Secretary for Water and Science at the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Our panel speakers include:

▪ William Philpott, Associate Professor of History, University of Denver
▪ Michelle Garrison, Senior Water Resource Specialist, Colorado Water Conservation Board
▪ Terry Goddard, Attorney, President of the Central Arizona Project, Former Arizona Attorney General
▪ Peter Fleming, General Counsel, Colorado River District
▪ Daniel Galindo, Deputy Director of the Colorado River Mexican Section of the International Boundary
Water Commission
▪ Peter Ortego, General Counsel for Ute Mountain Ute
▪ Puoy Premsrirut, Attorney, Chairwoman of the Colorado River Commission of Nevada
▪ Rolf Schmidt-Petersen, Director, New Mexico Interstate Stream Commission
▪ Gene Shawcroft, Utah Colorado River Commissioner
▪ Chris Brown, Wyoming Senior Assistant Attorney General
▪ Philip Womble, Fellow, Stanford Law School; Postdoctoral Fellow, Woods Institute for the
Environment, Stanford University
▪ James Eklund, Founder of Eklund Hanlon, LLC, Former director of the Colorado Water Conservation
Board, Former Colorado River Commissioner for Colorado
▪ Amy Ostdiek, Section Chief of Interstate, Federal, and Water Information Section, Colorado Water
Conservation Board
▪ Celene Hawkins, Colorado and Colorado River Tribal Engagement Program Director
▪ Christopher Harris, Executive Director, Colorado River Board of California

The event is April 14th and 15th at the University of Denver. All Pertinent details can be found on our website. Registration ends midnight on Sunday April 10th.

For any questions, please reach out to Andie Hall at or Andrea Thomas at