#ClimateChange is water change — @AmericanRivers #ActOnClimate #ColoradoRiver #COriver #aridification

From American Rivers (Fay Hartman):

No corner of the globe is spared from the impacts of climate change, including the Southwest and Colorado River Basin.

Lake Mead. Photo credit: Bureau of Reclamation

Join us for Episode 22 of We Are Rivers, Climate Change Part 2: Climate Change is Water Change, where we build upon our knowledge of climate change science to explore changes affecting the already parched American Southwest.

2019 was a wild weather year around the globe with temperatures breaking records and extreme weather events like hurricanes, massive flooding and wildfires impacting communities, people, and ecosystems. No corner of the globe was spared from its impacts, including the Southwest and Colorado River Basin. Join us for Episode 22 of We Are Rivers, which builds on our understanding of the science behind climate change.

The Upper Colorado River Basin had record precipitation during the 2018 – 2019 winter, it was the second highest amount of precipitation recorded since 1900. At the annual Colorado River District Water Seminar, Jeff Lukas with the Western Water Assessment noted that not only did we experience a tremendous amount of precipitation but this winter was the coldest winter since 2010. The cold, wet winter built a significant snowpack in the mountains (130% of average snowpack in the Upper Colorado River Basin). Snowpack is essential for the region as the Colorado River and most other rivers in the region are primarily driven by runoff that melts throughout the spring and summer. Runoff provides rivers with flushing, peak flows and a firm baseline heading into fall. A wet, cold winter was welcome after one of the worst drought years in 2018, and this year’s snowpack pushed the state of Colorado out of a statewide drought conditions for the first time in 20 years.

The American Canal carries water from the Colorado River to farms in California’s Imperial Valley. Photo credit: Adam Dubrowa, FEMA/Wikipedia.

However, winter wasn’t the only season in the record books this year. The Southwest experienced extreme heat and lack of precipitation in the later months of the summer. In his Colorado River District seminar presentation, Jeff Lukas noted that June – August 2019 was the 8th driest year since 1900, with July and August being the 6th warmest. Despite the significant snowpack, the hot summer temps coupled with dry soils and reduced late summer flows resulted in a smaller runoff that might have been anticipated. This year’s runoff was 118% of average at Lee’s Ferry versus the 130% of average snowpack for the Upper Colorado River Basin.

Warmer winter temperatures hold more moisture in the air – in turn, the warmer summer temperatures increase evaporation and dry the region out much faster than in the past. This not only reduces soil moisture but also river flows. Between 2000 and 2014, the Colorado River experienced a 20% reduction in flows when compared to the period of 1906-1999. According to Brad Udall and Jonathan Overpeck, one-third of this reduction is linked to warming temperatures and it’s likely that flows will only continue to decline as temperatures continue to rise.

The Upper Colorado River meanders through the high plateau around Kremmling, Colorado. (Source: Russell Schnitzer, used with permission via the Water Education Foundation)

“Weather whiplash,” a term coined by climatologist Dan Swain, can best describe our new normal in the Colorado River Basin. The whiplash of temperatures, precipitation, and extreme weather attributed to climate change affects all corners of the globe. Regions like the Southwest that are already dry will experience increased vulnerability in the form of higher temperatures, variable precipitation, earlier runoff, more intense wildfires and punctuated flooding events. These events will only intensify over time and will vary depend on the specific location within the region – some areas will get hotter and drier while other will experience more precipitation in the winter months. As Brad Udall says in the podcast, in the Colorado River Basin, climate change is water change.

One thing everyone can do to address the climate crisis is to call your representative and let them know it’s time to take action on climate change! We must reduce greenhouse gases and make our communities and ecosystems more resilient to a changing climate. We need to use more renewable energy sources, improve renewable portfolio standards, ensure regulations are in place to reduce greenhouse gases, and develop new technologies utilizing renewable energies. Let your representatives know that along with slowing global warming (by reducing greenhouse gases), we must adapt to the changes we are already experiencing. This includes protecting and restoring the wetlands, forests, and riverside lands that slow floods and provide clean water is essential to help us adapt to the new normal. Together, we can use water more efficiently and install green infrastructure to decrease polluted runoff, improve air quality, and lower temperatures. Make your voice heard today – do your part.

#Senate candidates — minus @Hickenlooper and @SenCoryGardner —address planet’s peril at Colorado Springs forum — The #ColoradoSprings Gazette #ActOnClimate

Statewide temperature 1895 through 2018 via the Colorado Climate Center.

From The Colorado Springs Gazette (Liz Henderson):

More than 100 people carrying “Agree” and “Disagree” signs came to hear Senate hopefuls’ views on climate change and their solutions during the Planet in Peril forum.

Eight Democrats, Angela Williams, Trish Zornio, Andrew Romanoff, Diana Bray, Lorena Garcia, Michelle Ferrigno Warren, Alice Madden and Stephany Rose Spaulding, and two Unity Party candidates, Joshua Rodriguez and Gary Swing, shared their positions with the audience.

Attendees showed their displeasure with Hickenlooper, who entered the Senate race after dropping out of the Democratic scrum for president, by chanting, “Where is Hick?”

One sign read, “Hey Hiding Hick, our future is at stake!” The Sunrise Movement of Colorado, one of the forum sponsors, said in a tweet that it was disappointed Gardner chose not to attend.

The forum, sponsored by environmental and progressive organizations, focused on addressing climate change through eliminating fracking, reforestation, fostering biodiversity and renewable resources and protecting groundwater.

All of the candidates agreed on the need for immediate climate change action — most used their rebuttal minute to agree with previous speakers. Some rebuked the Trump administration for retreating on environmental protections…

Candidates discussed carbon sequestration, reducing greenhouse gases and training the American workforce to transition to renewable energy jobs.

Seven. Freaking. Hours: CNN bodyslammed America with climate coverage last night. Here’s what happened — Heated #ActOnClimate

Click here to read the inaugural issue of Emily Atkin’s new newsletter, Heated. Here’s an excerpt:

If you’ve followed my work at all for the last six years, you know that I frequently complain about the lack of climate coverage on major television news networks.

So it’d be natural to assume I’d be happy today, the morning after CNN’s epic 7-hour Climate Crisis Town Hall, during which reporters and citizens probed the top 10 Democratic presidential candidates about the potential collapse of human civilization.

Well guess what.

I’m not happy.

I’m…

HEATED! AWWWW YEAAAH THAT’S RIGHT!!! WELCOME TO THE FIRST ISSUE!! *airhorn sounds* (I am so sorry).

Welcome to HEATED, a newsletter for people who are pissed off about the climate crisis. This is a special pre-launch issue for all you wonderful nerds who signed up early. I can hardly believe it, but there are more than 8,000 of us already! Who says people don’t care about climate change??

Daily, Monday through Thursday coverage begins officially on September 9th. If you like it, please forward it a friend—it would mean the world to me…

Now let’s get to it!

It was not so bad, actually.

Maybe this is because I’m a cynical jerk, but I really thought CNN would mess this up.

I’m old enough to remember when the network’s president Jeff Zucker said he intentionally avoided climate coverage because of the public’s “lack of interest” in the subject. And when CNN did cover climate change, it invited deniers on so often that Media Matters deemed the network a “national platform for false balance” on climate. Two years later, Media Matters also reported that CNN aired advertisements for the fossil fuel industry five times more often than climate-related news. And in 2018, there was one week where three separate CNN guests claimed that climate change was a vast conspiracy to enrich climate scientists.

So I was shocked at how productive Wednesday night’s town hall was. The moderator’s questions, for the most part, were tough and in line with the science. The outside questioners the network brought in were youthful, diverse and engaging. Both moderators and candidates called out the fossil fuel industry repeatedly for delaying climate action and spreading misinformation.

And most importantly…

It was a climate accountability bonanza.

On Wednesday night, every single Democratic presidential candidate was asked at least one question that attempted to hold them accountable for controversial decisions they’ve made, or questionable positions they’ve taken regarding the most existential threat of our time.

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