Fighting Drought Through Technology

From earlier blog posts you may be able to tell that I am deeply invested in the current severe drought in my home state of California. However, this is not just affecting us out here in the Golden State. Throughout the Midwest and Texas, many states are facing drought conditions as a result of climate change. While the big picture solution would be to reduce emissions to combat climate change, there are products being introduced that allow us to conserve water and ease the burden on our reserves.

Lake Oroville in California is currently at just 32 percent of its total capacity of 3,537,577 acre feet.

Lake Oroville in California is currently at just 32 percent of its total capacity of 3,537,577 acre feet.

Luka is a product that easily attaches to any shower head and has the potential to conserve hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per shower if deployed across the country. It allows you to shut off the water while you are shampooing, shaving, etc. without having to turn off the water and turn it back on to find the right temperature (and temperature adjustment wastes water as well). This simply kills the flow with any easy push, and you can restart the flow by pulling it back. Please check out their Kickstarter campaign at the link below and get on board with this product that can revolutionize an activity that hasn’t changed much over the last century. 

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“What Climate Change Would Actually Look Like”

The video is a great visual representation of what many monuments and places on the East Coast would actually look like if sea level rose by 5 feet, 12 feet, and 25 feet.


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Seven States That Are Running Out of Water


“California’s Central Valley—prime agricultural land—is being hit the hardest by the state-wide drought which could cause catastrophic losses to crops and food supply.”

Seven states from the West Coast to the Midwest have been facing drought conditions that are causing them to run out of water. The state coming in at #1 is California, with 100% of the state in what is classified as ‘severe drought’. This is especially problematic given the wildfires that have been sweeping the southern part of the state, and the dry conditions are likely to fuel further fires. The drought levels are defined in the following ways:

1. Severe drought: characterized by crop loss, frequent water shortages, and mandatory water use restrictions

2. Extreme drought: characterized by major crop and pasture losses, as well as widespread water shortages

3. Exceptional drought: crop and pasture loss is widespread, and shortages of well and reservoir water can lead to water emergencies

California and Oklahoma contain areas that are considered to be in ‘exceptional drought,’ while all of the states have areas with ‘severe drought’. Here is a breakdown of the states that are running out of water, from worst to not-as-bad-but-still-bad:

1. California

2. Nevada

3. New Mexico

4. Kansas

5. Arizona

6. Oklahoma

7. Texas

As climate change continues to worsen, and a lack of action on the part of individuals continues, we can expect more states to be running out of water in the future.

See more details here:

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“This Is Your Country With 10 Feet Of Sea Level Rise”

How Vulnerable is Your Neighborhood? A new interactive map has been released which demonstrates how the United States would look if climate change and sea level rise continue at the predicted rate. 12.3 million people who live by the coasts would be impacted, and great American cities would slip into the sea. As the article states,”…the new research on West Antarctic Ice Sheet decay — and the amount of humanity in the restless ocean’s way — point to unrelenting centuries of defense, retreat, and reimagination of life along our coasts.”

Click the link to find out how your city would be affected:

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Climate Change: No Longer a “Problem for Future Generations”

Drought in California

Drought in California

The end is not near, it’s here. The U.S. Global Change Research Program released a report that analyzes the present impacts of climate change across the United States. It examines regional and sectoral data, as well as the implications for infrastructure, agriculture, human health, and access to water.

Here are the highlights:

1. On the coasts, sea level rise is already contributing to increased flooding during high tides and storms, the report notes. And in the West, conditions are getting hotter and drier, and the snowpack is melting earlier in the year, extending wildfire season.

2. Average U.S. temperatures have increased 1.3 degrees to 1.9 degrees Fahrenheit (depending on the part of the country) since people began keeping records in 1895, and much of that warming has come in recent decades. 

3. The length of time between the last spring frost and the first fall frost also has increased across the U.S. The average time between frosts in the Southwest increased by 19 days in the years 1991 to 2012, compared with the average from 1901 to 1960.

4. The number of days where temperatures top 100 degrees is predicted to increase in the future. Extreme heat can cause more heart, lung and kidney problems, especially among the poor, sick and elderly. 

5. They have linked to climate change to an increase in major precipitation events. In the Northeast, for example, there has been a 71 percent increase in storms that would classify as “very heavy” -– in the top 1 percent — from 1958 to 2012.

All in all, it is becoming more and more clear that this is not a problem for our children, or our children’s children. Reports like these make policymakers and consumers more conscious of the current situation, and more informed when it comes to making decisions about our consumption going forward. Infrastructure will need to be rebuilt for the future, instead of the current infrastructure that was modern 50 years ago. People may finally be waking up to the reality of the situation, and action can finally be taken before we pass the point of no return.

Do you think that we will be able to change course before it is too late? Leave a comment below!

Full article:

U.S. Global Research Program:

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Useful Tips for Wasting Less Food

In case you were wondering how you can waste less food (and money!), here are some useful tips in honor of Earth Day! We can all do our part to make sure we are consuming what we need, and not wasting what we don’t.

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Climate Change & Us

This week representatives from 100 different governments will be meeting as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Japan. The purpose of the meeting is to develop a report to demonstrate to world leaders just how bad the issue of climate change has become, and the repercussions for us (meaning humans). The effects of climate change on humans will be dire and global, causing our existing ills to become much worse. It is more than just rising sea levels and general warming of the planet. The panel predicts the following harms as a result of increased climate change.

1. VIOLENCE: For the first time, the panel is emphasizing the nuanced link between conflict and warming temperatures. Participating scientists say warming won’t cause wars, but it will add a destabilizing factor that will make existing threats worse.

2. FOOD: Global food prices will rise between 3 and 84 percent by 2050 because of warmer temperatures and changes in rain patterns. Hotspots of hunger may emerge in cities.

3. WATER: About one-third of the world’s population will see groundwater supplies drop by more than 10 percent by 2080, when compared with 1980 levels. For every degree of warming, more of the world will have significantly less water available.

4. HEALTH: Major increases in health problems are likely, with more illnesses and injury from heat waves and fires and more food and water-borne diseases. But the report also notes that warming’s effects on health is relatively small compared with other problems, like poverty.

5. WEALTH: Many of the poor will get poorer. Economic growth and poverty reduction will slow down. If temperatures rise high enough, the world’s overall income may start to go down, by as much as 2 percent, but that’s difficult to forecast.

The main take away is that this is already beginning to happen. From the severe drought in California, to superstorms like Sandy in October 2012, these events are only going to become more frequent and more lethal. This is not some problem that distant generations are going to have to deal with, it’s already started happening. The only question that remains is how bad are we going to allow things to get before we take serious action to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Full article:

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Overpopulation & Climate Change

One cannot consider climate change without discussing the impacts of overpopulation. While it is important for individuals to reduce their carbon footprint as much as possible, it will have little effect if the global population continues to grow at an exponential rate. Consider the following statistics:

World Population

Year Reached

Time to add 1 billion

1 billion


2 billion


123 years

3 billion


33 years

4 billion


14 years

5 billion


13 years

6 billion


12 years

7 billion


12 years

8 billion

2024 (expected)

13 years

As you can see, the time between when we add the next billion people has grown progressively shorter, and we passed the 7 billion marker on Halloween in 2011. The most recent UN statistics estimate that we will hit 8 billion people in the spring of 2024. While it took all of human history until approximately 1800 to reach 1 billion people, we have started adding on billions at an alarming rate.

Consumption is a key driver of climate change, and as we continue to become overpopulated, consumption will only increase. What do you think? Leave a comment below!

For more information on overpopulation and climate change:

For more information on the population statistics:

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World’s Largest Solar Power Plant Opens in Mojave Desert

On Thursday, February 13, 2014, the world’s largest solar-thermal power complex, called the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, officially opened. Sitting along the California-Nevada border, it stretches across approximately 5 square miles and contains roughly 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors. With a $2.2 billion price tag, the complex is actually made up of three separate energy units (owned by NRG Energy Inc., Google, and BrightSource Energy). It can generate enough electricity to power 140,000 homes, and is regarded by some as “a dawn of a new era in power generation in the United States”. It uses technology known as solar-thermal, by which “nearly 350,000 computer-controlled mirrors roughly the size of a garage door reflect sunlight to boilers atop 459-foot towers. The sun’s power is used to heat water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam, which drives turbines to create electricity”.

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

The Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System

Though it has yet to be more cost effective than electricity generated by natural gas, coal, or nuclear power, it is a positive step in the right direction in terms of more sustainable energy production. The plant is also positive for Californians, who must obtain a third of their energy from renewable sources by 2020. Solar power may not be the cheapest or most adaptable renewable energy source, but when it comes to generating electricity in sun-soaked areas of our country, it is a good alternative to fossil fuels.

What do you think about the future of solar power? Leave a comment below!

Full article:

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Drought in California- No End in Sight

For those of you outside of California, it may be easy to overlook the fact that California has been in such a severe drought that it won’t even be mitigated by the heavy rainfall that we have received in recent weeks. San Francisco has only seen 5.85 inches of rain since July 1, 2013, and Los Angeles has only seen 1.2 inches of rain. Lake Tahoe has seen one of the driest winters in recent years with very little snowpack compared to more normal years. California Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency last month. The worst part- the storms that are currently hitting the coast won’t even make a dent in the drought. The image below, Folsom Lake in Northern California, shows just how bad the drought has become.


Images of Folsom Lake, a reservoir in Northern California, show the severity of the state’s drought. The photo at left, taken on July 20, 2011, show the lake at 97 percent of total capacity and 130 percent of its historical average for that date. The photo at right shows the lake on Jan. 16, 2014, when it was at 17 percent of capacity and 35 percent of its historical average.

This is bad news for more than just those of us in the great state of California. The area hit the hardest has been the Central Valley, a major agricultural area. California alone produced $44.7 billion worth of agricultural products in 2012, with everything from fruits to livestock. You can attach a monetary value to the drought in terms of lost production. Farmers are having to choose between letting their crops die and paying high prices for irrigation. In turn, food prices for certain items may increase or we could face shortages of the crops that are primarily grown in the Central Valley. Unless we take real steps to reduce water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, we can expect more extreme droughts in the future.

For more information on the drought:

Image from:

Agricultural statistics from:

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