Posts

California’s 2018 wildfires cost the US economy $148.5 billion


Highlights

  • According to Nature Sustainability, the 2018 wildfires resulted in a $148.5 billion economic loss for the United States
  • At the peak of the Camp Fire in November, nearly 40% of the state’s population was breathing air deemed unhealthy or worse and an estimated 3,652 people died from air pollution
  • About $88.6 billion was lost from indirect economic impacts from the fires nationwide
  • Within the state, Sacramento County suffered the greatest losses even though they didn’t experience any fires 
  • Climate change is an issue that affects the health, safety, and financial well-being of Americans throughout the nation

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement policies for massive greenhouse gas emissions reductions and begin a drawdown of carbon from the atmosphere within ten years. With 9 of 15 global tipping points now active, what we do today can either unleash an inhospitable hothouse Earth or secure a safe climate well into the future. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://earther.gizmodo.com/californias-hellish-2018-wildfires-cost-the-u-s-econom-1845824226

Insurance companies abandoning California at a faster rate, as wildfires wreak havoc

by Dale Kasler, Sacramento Bee


Highlights

  • Deputy Insurance Commissioner Bryant Henley announced that insurance companies have dropped many Californians in the Sierra foothills after the 2017 and 2018 wildfire season resulted in losses of $25 billion for those companies
  • 42,088 homeowners were sent non-renewal in the foothill counties in 2019 and had to purchase replacement coverage at double or triple their original insurance costs, many on the California FAIR Plan
  • Enrollees of the California FAIR Plan, the state’s “insurer of last resort,” jumped from 140,000 in 2018 to over 200,000 this August
  • Industry officials say climate change and other factors are making increasingly large swaths of California almost uninsurable and affordable insurance will be less easy to obtain as fire seasons intensify 

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/fires/article246561448.html

The climate science behind this year’s wildfires and powerful storms

by Scott Pelley, 60 Minutes


Highlights

  • In 1988, NASA scientist James Hansen discovered that man made climate change would lead to a global rise in temperatures by the year 2020
  • “Career fires” or fire events that firefighters would likely only see once in their career, can typically burn up to 50,000 acres and are happening yearly in California
  • Though Hansen predicted climate changes three decades ago, he hoped that governments would have taken action:

“Well, if we don’t change anything, then we’re going to continue to see more and more of these extreme regional events because the physics is quite simple. As you add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, you increase the heating of the surface. So, at the times and places where it’s dry you get more extreme droughts. The fire seasons become longer. The fires burn hotter. But at the times and places where it’s wet, you get more evaporation of the water. And you get warmer, moist air, which provides greater rainfall. And it’s the fuel for storms.”

  • Many serious climate change effects such as mega-drought and melting ice sheets are occurring at a faster rate than what scientists previously predicted 
  • Hanson believes the best way to stop climate change would be to reduce all emissions to zero in order to allow the ocean and forests to sequester excess carbon
  • Another method Hanson suggests is taxing fossil fuels in order to make clean alternatives more cost-effective

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/western-wilfires-record-temperatures-california-60-minutes-2020-10-04/

California fires: Climate hellscape science warned us of is here

by The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board, The Los Angeles Times


Highlights

  • The west coast of the United States is currently experiencing the climate catastrophe scientists have been warning the world about for decades
  • Around 2 million acres of land have burned in California from this year’s early fire season
  • Though some fires were accidentally started by people, climate change contributed to the conditions that have dried out the land and made it so flammable
  • This year there have been 40,000 wildfires in the US before the end of August, compared to 33,600 in 2019 within the same time frame
  • An average of 6.9 million acres have burned each year since 2000, with an annual average of 71,300 wildfires
  • Fires are not the only looming threat during the climate crisis: coasting flooding may affect nearly 300 million people globally, while an estimated 40% of Americans will experience the effects of sea-level rise
  • To combat the worst effects of the climate crisis, the world needs to end its reliance on burning fossil fuels, stop building in fire-prone areas, and start planning for rising sea levels

The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California Campaign includes accelerating timelines for climate action to be more in line with the current science and the reality on the ground. Endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform today. 

As forests burn, the carbon stored in those trees is lost. Funding and programs for soil sequestration are needed to achieve net negative emissions by pulling carbon from the atmosphere and storing it safely in soils– where it won’t go up in smoke. 


Read More: https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2020-09-09/wildfires-record-temperatures-hellscape-climate-change-greenland-rising-seas

A climate-driven transformation of wildfires around the globe

by Michael Kodas, Inside Climate News


Highlights

  • Climate change is increasing the severity and size of wildfires across the globe
  • Fires in Colorado burned over 200,000 acres, while fires in California burned an area the size of Rhode Island
  • These Western US fires were predicted by Federal wildfire forecasters due to the trend of low moisture and warm weather
  • New research suggests that fires in California will more than double in the coming decades due to manmade climate change 
  • The marine layer of fog that typically adds moisture to California’s redwood trees has declined by a third, adding to the trees flammability 
  • Colorado has not experienced the monsoon that usually drenches and cools the Southwest, leading the state to become even drier and hotter
  • The western part of the state that is experiencing the most fires has also seen a 2-degree Celsius increase since 1895, twice the global average increase

Scientists are increasingly warning that to avoid catastrophic impacts from climate change, the world’s governments must implement massive reductions of warming emissions and begin a drawdown of greenhouse gases (GHG) from the atmosphere over the decade ahead.  For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://insideclimatenews.org/news/22082020/california-colorado-wildfires-climate-change-global-transformation

How local energy providers are ensuring energy resilience

by Sarah Golden, GreenBiz


Highlights

  • California’s Community Choice Agencies (CCAs) are providing ratepayers with energy resilience programs for the upcoming fire season
  • Four Northern California CCAs, East Bay Community Energy, MCE (Marin Community Energy), Peninsula Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Clean Energy, have recently announced solar plus battery storage projects in their territories 
  • CCAs have implemented these solar and storage programs before their investor-owned utility counterparts, such as PG&E or SoCal Edison 
    • This may be due to the fact that CCAs focus on the communities in their territories and have no responsibilities to shareholders
    • Big utilities are addressing resiliency on the whole electrical grid as opposed to smaller communities 
  • Creating resilience programs takes time, as plans, solicitations, applications, and negotiation processes take many months 

Community Choice Energy can be one of the most powerful ways to accelerate the transition from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources, and The Climate Center is working to spread it throughout California for a climate-safe future


Read More: https://www.greenbiz.com/article/how-local-energy-providers-are-ensuring-energy-resilience

How wildfires make COVID more dangerous

by Julia Rosen, The New York Times


Highlights

  • With wildfire season fast approaching, concerns about fire smoke as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic are rising
  • Scientists worry that wildfire smoke will have effects for months as a recent study in Montana showed that smoky summers led to more severe flu seasons the following winter
  • People who contract COVID while also inhaling smoky air from fires could experience more severe effects of the coronavirus
  • Preparing for smoke beforehand will help prevent some respiratory effects:
    • Using new filters in your home or purchase a portable air filter
    • Using N95 respirator masks for smoke instead of cloth masks
    • Take advantage of windy days where the smoke temporarily clears to get some fresh air

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/08/climate/wildfires-smoke-covid-coronavirus.html

Good news for The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience program

by Ellie Cohen

The last few weeks have brought good news related to The Climate Center’s Community Energy Resilience program, part of The Climate Center’s Climate-Safe California campaign.

On April 29th, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued a Proposed Decision in its microgrid proceeding which included recommendations The Climate Center had filed with the CPUC. The Proposed Decision directs utilities to provide information and assist local governments in developing energy resilience projects. Final CPUC approval — expected in June – should make it easier for local governments to access the utility data they need to engage in Community Energy Resilience planning.

On May 14th, Governor Newsom issued his updated budget proposal for the upcoming FY 2020-2021 fiscal year.  Notwithstanding severe state budget cutbacks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governor’s latest budget proposal retained $50M in funding for community energy resilience which The Climate Center and Partners have been advocating for.  The Climate Center and Partners will continue to urge State leaders to retain these funds in the final budget.

On May 28th  the California Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee passed SB 1215, legislation to promote the development of microgrids.

The Climate Center is hosting multiple upcoming energy resilience events, including a May 29th webinar as well as a Community Energy Resilience webinar series to provide practical information regarding the immediate need to keep critical facilities powered during the upcoming fire season as well as the long-term opportunities to simultaneously advance local resilience and climate goals.

There remains a huge amount of work ahead in our effort to transform California’s electricity system to becoming clean, affordable, reliable, equitable, and safe – and we have seen some promising forward progress in recent weeks.

If you would like to support our efforts, click here.

California virus war slams into its other crisis: wildfires

By David R Baker and Mark Chediak, Bloomberg Green


Highlights

Social distancing and stay at home mandates have made preparing for wildfire season harder, limiting tree trimming, controlled burns, and powerline maintenance.

  • Though California may suffer another severe fire season, the U.S. Forest Service has suspended in-person training for firefighters
  • In the State budget Governor Gavin Newsom called for $129 million for new fire-related positions as well as wildfire forecasting center. But an updated budget, reflecting coronavirus realities, is expected by mid-May. Money budgeted for fire prevention might be spent instead on efforts to fight the virus and restart California’s economy
  • As of April 23, 58% of the state was abnormally dry, compared to 6% a year ago and 36% of the state is currently experiencing drought, further fueling the next wildfire season
  • So far this year PG&E has trimmed or chopped down trees along 573 miles of power lines in order to minimize fire vulnerability 
  • Southern California Edison plans to install 700 miles of insulated power lines this year and is now trying to schedule any necessary power interruptions for night time or early morning to minimize the impact on at-home workers 

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. 


Read more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-28/california-s-virus-war-collides-with-its-other-crisis-wildfires?sref=ABTRBDIh

Climate change increasing fire weather days in California; emissions reductions can reverse this

from Environmental Research Letters


Highlights

As the state gets warmer every year due to the effects of climate change, California’s wildfire season is being fueled by offshore winds, dry vegetation, and drought. These fires result in public health risks from smoke and can result in long term energy shutoffs. 

  • Fire Causes
    • Human exposure and vulnerability to fires is due to the encroachment on wildlands for urban and suburban development 
    • Fire suppression in areas that historically experienced low-intensity fires has led to the accumulation of “fuels” that ultimately promote bigger, intense fires
    • The state’s five warmest years on record occurred in 2014-2018, with autumn temperatures rising and precipitation falling
    • Rising temperatures, declining snowpack, and year-round lack of rain are extending the state’s fire season and will continue to do so
    • Though climate change is fueling fire season, over 80% of fires during autumn in California are human-caused
  • Smoke from these wildfires are causing schools and businesses to close to mitigate exposure to dangerous air pollution
  • The climate model analyses in this report suggest that continued climate change will increase the number of days with extreme fire weather by the end of this century
  • However, meeting climate goals set by the Paris Agreement will curb the increase of fire days

Increased air pollution from fires and fossil fuel emissions makes all of us more vulnerable to the current COVID-19 pandemic. With community energy resilience we can ensure that our power is clean and not further contributing to emissions in our communities. For a safe and healthy future for all, endorse the Climate-Safe California Platform to implement scalable solutions that can reverse the climate crisis.


Read more: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/ab83a7