ONE AUGUST AFTERNOON IN 2010, Michael Mann was opening mail in his office at Penn State University when a dusting of white powder emerged from an envelope. At first he thought it was his imagination. “I figured maybe it’s just an old dingy envelope or something,” Mann recalled. His next thought: anthrax.
The Global Climate Action Summit that wrapped recently in San Francisco was trumpeted as a “subnational” approach to climate change solutions, a riposte to the regressive environmental policies of the Trump administration. For three days, delegates from diverse international municipalities, provinces, states and corporations discussed ways to cut carbon emissions and mitigate global warming.
Posted on September 26, 2018 - 12:52pm
When Mt. Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in 1991, it spewed millions of tons of sulfur dioxide into the atmosphere. For nearly two years, that sunlight-blocking plume acted as a sort of volcanic “umbrella,” cooling the Earth by almost 1 degree Fahrenheit. As climate change increasingly alters our lifestyles and embeds itself into our collective consciousness, geoengineering—in this case, humans playing volcano to replicate this cooling event—became a fascinating idea.
Posted on August 24, 2018 - 5:07pm
Water managers and hydrologists are a mite worried. The good news is that the recent cold storms dumped a lot of new snow in the Sierra. That will help keep reservoirs charged and Californians adequately hydrated through the coming year. But there’s a literal dark cloud counterbalancing that silver lining—a massive “atmospheric river,” aka the Pineapple Express, now poised to wallop California.
Posted on March 20, 2018 - 3:46pm
UC Berkeley researchers have cautioned for some time that climate change-driven sea level rise will inundate much of the Bay Area’s low-lying regions, but a new study indicates the threat is particularly acute for landfill developments such as Treasure Island and Foster City.
Posted on March 7, 2018 - 11:08am
California’s Lost Coast isn’t that hard to find—just drive south on a narrow, twisting road from the Humboldt County town of Ferndale. The landscape is extreme in its beauty, wending across ridge top meadows that plunge eastward to forested gorges and roll to the cobalt blue Pacific to the west. The route skirts miles of deserted beach where the only sound is the lapping of gentle surf and the cries of seabirds, and finally tracks through Petrolia, a tiny settlement on the Mattole River.
Posted on February 13, 2018 - 5:26pm
Strategies to deal with climate change have focused largely on reducing emissions of CO2 and other planet-warming compounds from industry, transportation and agriculture. The news isn’t particularly heartening on that front. After three years of leveling off, CO2 levels are expected to rise by two percent by the end of 2017, due largely to increased coal-burning in China.
Posted on November 30, 2017 - 4:24pm
Richard Muller is a Berkeley physics professor, senior scientist at Berkeley Lab, and founder of the group Berkeley Earth, a non-profit established to systematically address the concerns of climate change skeptics. (Muller considers himself a converted skeptic.) He is the author of numerous books including The Instant Physicist and most recently Now: The Physics of Time.
Posted on October 31, 2017 - 1:19pm
Hurricane Harvey was declared a Category 4 storm late this past Friday, was downgraded to a tropical storm on Saturday, and is officially the most extreme rain event in U.S. history.
Posted on August 29, 2017 - 4:50pm
The calving of an iceberg the size of Delaware from the Antarctica Peninsula’s Larsen C ice shelf made a lot of waves, raising concerns that it might directly contribute to sea level rise or portend a sudden acceleration in the melting of the continent’s gigantic ice cap. But the event pointed to neither scenario, says UC Berkeley Professor of Ocean, Earth, and Climate Science Kurt Cuffey.
Posted on July 17, 2017 - 10:40am
The Sacramento Valley came within a skosh of true catastrophe this winter when both the main and emergency spillways at Oroville Dam on the Feather River eroded due to high water releases necessitated by torrential rains. State officials ordered an evacuation of 200,000 residents in communities below the dam, and for a few days the possibility of a 30-foot-wall of water scouring the Sacramento Valley from Oroville to the Delta was very real indeed.
Posted on July 11, 2017 - 10:52am
Donald Trump’s recent withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement was predictable given his unrelenting attacks on the “hoax” of climate change, and the response was predictably negative, save from his fiercely partisan base.
Posted on June 12, 2017 - 4:23pm
One of the best ways to flaunt your Earth-hugging bona fides these days is to buy an electric car. It shows you’re willing to put your money—a lot of your money—where your mouth is, assuming your mouth spends a fair amount of time declaiming on global warming, atmospheric carbon emissions, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and the sinister intentions of the global hydrocarbon extraction cabal. Buying a Tesla demonstrates you’re doing your part to keep our planet cool and green.
Posted on May 2, 2017 - 4:58pm
In celebration of Earth Week, we’ve rounded up the best of Cal in environmental news this week.
Living for the City
The remote locations of tech company campuses have provided certain benefits for employees and a creepy setting for every techpocalypse novel and film EVER, but they also have their drawbacks, as a recent UC Berkeley study concludes.
Posted on April 20, 2017 - 4:31pm