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Mountain Forest Changes Threaten Calif. Water Supplies

Mountain Forest Changes Threaten Calif. Water Supplies

Hike high enough up California’s Sierra Nevada and the forest morphs around you. At around 6,000 feet, the dazzling diversity of the lower montane forest, replete with California black oak, ponderosa pine, and incense cedars gives way to more monotonous landscapes of red fir and lodgepole pine. Hike further still and trees eventually disappear alto… Read More

Warming in Europe Raises Risks of Tropical Diseases

Warming in Europe Raises Risks of Tropical Diseases

Add one more horror to the list of awful threats that climate change poses: it could introduce dengue fever in Europe. Dengue fever is already a hazard for 2.5 billion people in humid tropical regions, and 50-100 million people a year are infected by the mosquito-borne disease. It puts 500,000 of them in hospital each year, and kills around 12,000 … Read More

Pests Pose Increasing Risk to Food Security

Pests Pose Increasing Risk to Food Security

Coming soon to a farm near you: just about every possible type of pest that could take advantage of the ripening harvest in the nearby fields. By 2050, according to new research in the journal Global Ecology and Biogeography, those opportunistic viruses, bacteria, fungi, blights, mildews, rusts, beetles, nematodes, flies, mites, spiders and caterpi… Read More

Cut Carbon, Breathe Easier, Live Longer

Cut Carbon, Breathe Easier, Live Longer

What if I offered you an investment that would make us all healthier, save thousands of lives, and pay for itself? It would be hard to turn down a deal like that. According to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, there is such an investment, and it’s called cap and trade—the market-based plan to reduce carbon pollution that i… Read More

Battle Wages for California’s Groundwater Rights

Battle Wages for California’s Groundwater Rights

Grapevines march across wires strung along rolling hills, their little trunks improbably supporting heavy black fruit. Cindy Steinbeck’s family has been farming this land since 1920. They grow Zinfandel, Viognier, Cabernet, Merlot, and Petite Syrah grapes but are best known in this area of Central California for a blend called The Crash, named afte… Read More

What Global Warming Might Mean for Extreme Snowfalls

What Global Warming Might Mean for Extreme Snowfalls

So if the world is warming, that means winters should be less snowy, right? Well, it’s a bit more complicated than that. OK, it’s a lot more complicated. While the average annual snowfall in most parts of the world is indeed expected to decline, the extreme snowfalls — those that hit a place once every 10 or 20 years and can cause major headaches… Read More

Crowdsourced Photos Provide Drought Snapshots

Crowdsourced Photos Provide Drought Snapshots

On May 24, a roiling dust cloud enveloped a desolate stretch of road in Prowers County, a rural county in southeast Colorado. The county and surrounding area had been deeply mired in drought for more than 2 years and the photo bore proof of just what drought looked like to its residents. The short note accompanying the photo added more context: “Ph… Read More

Can Birds Be Protected From Huge Solar Plants?

Can Birds Be Protected From Huge Solar Plants?

You might never have seen an Yuma clapper rail. Fewer than 1,000 are thought to still be sloshing about in cattail-thick marshes from Mexico up to Utah and across to California. But if you were lucky enough to spot one, you might chuckle at its oversized toes. When officials with the National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory saw one of these… Read More