Good news for the world; bad news for California?

Today in the LA Times, Jay Famiglietti, a scientist who oversees the data gathered by the pair of gravity-measuring satellites known as GRACE, and who as a result has as good an understanding as anyone of California's groundwater supplies, revealed that California has but one year left of water:

As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.
It's true: heck, I'm going tomorrow morning to a rain song ceremony. Doing what little I can. Yes, I'm ready and willing to ration, and may well have to — just hope I can help keep the trees on this lot alive and give them a chance at another winter. Seems impossibly far off at this moment. 
On a brighter and unexpected note, for the first time in forty years, the Energy Information Agency reported that the levels of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere did not rise last year. This is a real sign of hope, and probably reflects China's determination to stop burning ever more coal. 

Somebody tapped the brakes.

Carbon dioxide emissions from the world’s energy producers stalled in 2014, the first time in 40 years of measurement that the level did not increase during a period of economic expansion, according to preliminary estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The research suggests that efforts to counteract climate change by reducing carbon emissions and promoting energy efficiency could be working, said Fatih Birol, the agency’s chief economist and incoming executive director. “This is definitely good news,” he said.

Dr. Birol noted that many nations have promoted energy efficiency and low-carbon energy sources like hydroelectric, solar, wind and nuclear power. China, he noted, has worked to reduce carbon emissions as part of an intensive effort to limit environmental damage from economic development. That China appears to be successfully moving down that path, he said, portends well for the deal struck with the United States in November. China committed in that agreement to turning around its growth in carbon emissions by 2030, or earlier if possible, while increasing the share of non-fossil fuels in energy production to 20 percent of its menu.

Andrew Freedman of Climate Central posted an encouraging chart: this could be big news.


Doesn't mean the story has a happy ending, as Mashable makes clear, but if we can grow the world economy without growing emissions; well, that's a , start. 

Published by Kit Stolz

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

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