Here’s what happened in Las Vegas, Nevada: Climate change is making water increasingly scarce, so under a new Nevada law, grass must go. “When we look at outdoor water use in southern Nevada, long-distance landscaping is the largest water use, and that’s grass,” said Bronson Mack of the Las Vegas Water Authority.
So far this year, the city has cleared about 4 million square feet of grass on public property because thirsty green parkways are something they can no longer afford. “The grass you see behind me isn’t long in this world,” Mack told reporter Tracy Smith. “In fact, over the next few months to a year, the grass will be completely phased out and replaced with drip-irrigated trees and plants.”
Every drop of water counts. So water waste investigators (also known as water police) patrol communities, noting who waters when, and how much water goes down the drain.
After 22 summers, climate change has become more difficult to deny, choking beaches, whether in extremely dry Nevada or in the algae-infested Caribbean. Or Kentucky, where too much water created a tragedy that is still unfolding.
But there still seems to be someone who can convince that climate change has become a climate emergency.
A group of scientists last springThe protest did not take action. “We’re going to lose everything, we’re not kidding,” said one protester, Dr Peter Calmes. “We didn’t lie, we didn’t exaggerate. It’s too bad, everyone.”
Smith asked Calmes: “Do you feel like you’re sitting on all this science and you’re trying to share it with the world and no one’s listening?”
“That’s exactly how I feel, yes,” he replied.
As a NASA scientist and father of two, Calmes says we should be scared about the climate right now. “I think if your house is on fire, you get adrenaline, you panic, and it saves your life because you get out of the house and you put the fire out.”
“So, do you want people to be afraid of this?”
“I Do Want to freak people out, yeah. I don’t think people freak out. The public doesn’t have enough urgency about it. “
First and foremost, Kalmus wants people to know what the world will look like this coming summer.
“If this summer is this hot, what will next summer be like?” Smith asked.
“In general, it’s an upward trend,” he replied. “In 20 years, we’re looking back at the summer of 2022, and we wish we had this good. We wish it was so cool. That’s no exaggeration.”
For the most part, the scientific community supports him: Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change “Basically the last sentence of our position, and the word is grim,” said Sarah Burch, the report’s lead author.
The bad news from the IPCC report, she told Smith, is that “we cannot currently limit warming to below 2 degrees. That’s the limit we set, and scientists tell us it’s important because it’s the best way to help us avoid climate change.” bad influence.”
So what does two degrees of warming mean? We asked Neil deGrasse Tyson to list it for us: “How far is the ice age 20,000 years ago? 8 degrees colder. 8 degrees colder and we have an ice age, glaciers all the way to the central United States of America.”
“So even half a degree makes a big difference?” Smith asked.
“What is half a degree to you or me in your life? Two degrees, who cares? Earth, it matters. It matters,” Tyson said. “It’s 8 degrees colder and the glacier reaches St. Louis. It’s 2 degrees warmer and we’re losing our coastline. Lift it up a bit, I don’t even want to see it.”
“If the ice caps melt, how high can the water rise?”
“Starting with the ice sheet. The water level of the ocean will rise and reach the left elbow of the Statue of Liberty — that’s the left arm where she’s holding the document,” Tyson said. “I don’t even want to think about that.”
Astrophysicist Tyson has written some of his cosmic insights into an upcoming book, Star Messenger: A Cosmic Perspective of Civilization (Henry Holt and Co.), saying that the future of our planet may be written in the stars—or at least in our planetary neighbors.
Tyson said: “Did you know that Venus is basically as big as Earth and has the same surface gravity as Earth? It might turn out the same as Earth, but something bad is happening on Venus. They have a runaway greenhouse effect. It’s 900° Fahrenheit on Venus. I did the math on this: You can cook a 16-inch pepperoni pizza in three seconds on a windowsill, okay? Is it any good? Maybe!
“However, I wonder what knobs nature has turned out there, because it would be bad if we turned the same knobs artificially on Earth. That doesn’t bode well for the future of life on Earth, especially For the civilizations built on it, our climate has been relatively stable for the past 10,000 years.”
The thing is, even as more and more people think we’re headed for disaster (and polls seem to suggest they are), the key is actually to act quickly.
Smith asked Sarah Birch, “Simply put, do we know what we need to do?”
“Of course,” she replied. “We know we need to move electricity from coal and highly polluting fossil fuels to solar and wind. We know what we need to do to our buildings to make them more efficient. We need to insulate them, we need to heat them with heat pumps , instead of gas, coal and oil. We need to use clean electricity and switch to electric vehicles.
“So. We have a list of really practical solutions that we know will work. But now accelerating adoption is the trick. That’s the challenge.”
Congress is gradually enacting legislation to provide billions of dollars in tax incentives for clean energy and more.
But for now, we’ve learned to adapt — and in Nevada, that doesn’t just mean pulling weeds.
Lake Mead, one of the region’s main water sources, is drying up at an unprecedented rate. The white “bathtub ring” shows how much.
Some inlet pipes carrying water downstream have been extended above waterline. But if the lake drops too low to flow downstream, or becomes what they call a “dead pool,” the folks in southern Nevada have a plan: They build a low-lake-level pumping station near a past water source. edge. Huge pipes connect to a new inlet at the very bottom of Lake Mead, almost a drain, so they’ll be able to keep pumping until the last drop.
Smith asked John Enzminger, director of the water authority, “Can you foresee this, do you have to do something?”
“Of course,” he replied. “We didn’t need a crystal ball to know we needed to be prepared to protect our communities.”
While scientists can see the worst-case scenario ahead, they can also see the way forward. Smith asked Birch why she still had hope.
“The flip side of the coin is that we’ve also seen evidence of real, sustained reductions in greenhouse gas emissions over the past 10 years,” she replied. “So, that tells me we have a roadmap. We have the technology, the policies and the actions and we need to get where we want to go.”
“We just need to follow the roadmap?”
“That’s right. And go faster! Go faster down that road.”
Tyson added: “We’re all one race, human. I think we can all come together to solve problems without killing ourselves.”
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Story produced by John Damerio. Editor: Steven Taylor.