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California’s deadly atmospheric river storms

Independent climate news from the OptOut network—fueled by facts, not the oil and gas industry.
California’s deadly atmospheric river storms

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This is the newsletter of OptOut Climate, a program of the OptOut Media Foundation led by Cristian Salazar. OptOut maintains a free news aggregation app for exclusively independent media that's available for Apple and Android devices. Find out more about the app at optout.news.

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Widespread flooding caused by extreme atmospheric river storms has battered coastal communities in California for days, leading to several deaths, threatening homes, and knocking out power for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Climate change is playing no small part in these atmospheric rivers—bands of moisture in the sky that flow from the tropics to North America like waterways—which the National Weather Service has called “debilitating” and “brutal.”

Even as the potent storms generate devastation, they are exposing the economic inequalities in a state that has failed to do enough to prepare for the kinds of extreme weather that has been forecast for years.

The deluge also comes after a prolonged drought and wildfires that have left open sores on the land, leaving communities vulnerable to landslides and dangerous debris caught in fast-moving water flows.

The poorest Californians are expected to suffer the most from the storms, according to CAPITAL & MAIN, which reported that many lower-income residents are at increased flood risk. Cheaper housing has historically been centralized in lower-lying communities.

Floods’ Worst Ravages Will Be Visited Upon California’s Poorest
This week’s torrent compounds the affordable housing crisis.

In Sacramento, “the residents of vast homeless encampments are, somehow, surviving in the brutal storm conditions,” writes Sasha Abramsky for THE NATION. The writer criticizes local and state officials for failing to address the chronic housing issues in the state ahead of the storms. “This is a failure of public policy, of bureaucracies, and of political imagination on a grand scale.”

California Hangs Its Homeless Population Out to Dry
Recent floods have worsened the state’s housing crisis, and the local government’s response is proving woefully inadequate once again.

GRIST examines whether the heavy rains may contain a silver lining by helping to address the state’s climate-induced water crisis. California’s yearslong drought has drained reservoirs, left farmlands unplanted, and put migrant field workers out of jobs.

The nonprofit news organization finds that while the rainfall may help to replenish reservoirs this year, it won’t bring the drought to an end because “surface precipitation is only one pillar supporting the state’s water needs.” The Colorado River remains endangered, and groundwater is scarce.

Will California’s ‘atmospheric river’ storms end the drought?
Heavy rains may refill reservoirs, but they won’t solve the state’s broader water crisis.

HIGH COUNTRY NEWS reports on why atmospheric rivers are important for replenishing water resources, as well as the damage that they can cause.

The power of atmospheric rivers, explained
Back-to-back storms in California threaten lives, homes, and infrastructure — but will also bolster the West’s water supply.
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Gas stoves make kids sick: study

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is considering a ban on gas stoves after a major study found a link between asthma in children and exposure to the burning of fossil fuels in such household appliances.

The stunning findings, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, showed that 12% of childhood asthma cases can be attributed to gas stove use. Natural gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and fine particulate matter.

CITY LIMITS looked at the study as it pertains to New York state, finding that about 19%of cases of asthma could be prevented if the stoves weren’t in the home.

Gas Stoves Contribute to Nearly 19% of NY’s Child Asthma Cases, Analysis Estimates
Advocates say the findings add new urgency to the state’s efforts to transition its energy sources away from fossil fuels, and as environmental groups renew calls for state lawmakers to pass legislation that would ban gas hookups in new construction statewide.
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Debating degrowth

The concept of economic degrowth has been discussed in some climate activist circles as a possible solution to the effects of global warming—the idea being that it may be possible to slow production and consumption to enhance ecological conditions. But to others this idea is nothing but a green dream.

In JACOBIN, the author of Austerity Ecology, Leigh Phillips, discusses his opposition to degrowth strategies. “Degrowth fundamentally misdiagnoses the cause of climate change,” he says, citing how other environmental issues have been overcome in spite of economic growth. He said solutions have come “instead from new technologies and economic planning in the form of regulation and technology policy.”

Degrowth Is Not the Answer to Climate Change
Proponents of degrowth rightly argue that free market capitalism is threatening the planet. But pushing austerity on workers in either the Global South or the Global North is no way to achieve a just, sustainable future.

Maximillian Alvarez, the editor-in-chief of THE REAL NEWS NETWORK, isn’t exactly a proponent of degrowth. But he sees it as “a frame for thinking and acting differently in the present.”

“The planet we share, the only home we’ve ever known, has its limits,” he writes. Read the full discussion here:

Is ‘degrowth’ the answer to the capitalist climate crisis?
“Degrowth” can mean many things. And its real value may be as a framework for thinking and acting differently than in providing a blueprint for the future.
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In Brief

ATMOS examines ways to protect earth’s defenders in the Global South after a deadly decade for environmentalists.

Here’s How We Protect Earth’s Defenders | Atmos
After a deadly decade for environmental activists and defenders of the Earth, The Frontline asks: is there a way out?

Across the country, people are relying on mutual aid organizations to survive climate disasters, PRISM reports.

Mutual aid meets the needs of people affected by climate disasters
In the absence of government support and structures to safeguard against climate chaos, communities across the U.S. rely on mutual aid and solidarity

The West’s salt lakes are disappearing due to climate change and overconsumption, though their survival may lie with Congress, HIGH COUNTRY NEWS reports.

The West’s salt lakes are turning to dust. Can Congress help?
A new research and monitoring program aims to conserve threatened but overlooked saline ecosystems.

Climate Agenda

UN 2023 Water Conference
March 22-24, 2023
New York, NY
More information

2nd World Conference on Climate and Sustainability 2023
October 16-18, 2023
More information

COP 28
November 30, 2023 to December 12, 2023
United Arab Emirates

New York Clean Energy Calendar
Various events

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Hit Me Up!

Thanks for reading OptOut’s climate newsletter! If you have questions, tips, or anything else about our climate program, feel free to email me at cristian@optout.news or message me via Instagram or Twitter at @xtianpublic.

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