What moved Obama to act on climate change: the disappearance of the CA snowpack

According to a great story in the Washington Post by veteran environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin, this is the image that shocked Obama in February, and moved him to act to slow climate change, in spite of opposition in Congress.

Missing in action: the California snowpack, on which tens of millions of us depend. 


Eilperin writes:  

The satellite images viewed by President Obama before a meeting with eight Western governors were stark, showing how snowpack in California’s mountains had shrunk by 86 percent in a single year.

“It was a ‘Houston, we have a problem’ moment,” recalled White House counselor John D. Podesta, one of two aides who briefed the president that February day. Obama mentioned the images several times as he warned the governors that political leaders had no choice but to cope with global warming’s impact.

Hence today's Presidential focus on the release of the third National Assessment (of climate change) an 800-page report, broken down by regions, which I will try to unpack, at least in part, for California in days and weeks to come.

Feel strangely nostalgic about it, as the first reporting I did on climate change came around the first assessment, released for California eleven years ago. Was a lot less accessible than the latest version, which has some powerful graphs, well-introduced. 

Here's an example: a chart of frost-free days, indicative of heat stress in our region. 


Note: This is not a projection of future impacts. Speaking of impacts, off tomorrow to a California water conference: Will be interesting to hear the talk about the impacts of climate change from managers and experts — if they don't already take it for granted. 

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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