Over the past few weeks, California has gone from extreme drought to unrelenting flooding, experiencing a form of “whiplash” that its governor said is “proof that the climate crisis is real.”
BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA.- Gov. Gavin Newsom, who declared a state of emergency for the state last week in response to a succession of storms fueled by atmospheric rivers of moisture, connected the dots Tuesday between climate change and the storms that have so far been blamed in the deaths of at least 17 people and are expected to result in damages of close to $1 billion.
Megadroughts. Wildfires. Historic floods and atmospheric rivers.— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) January 11, 2023
This whiplash weather is not an anomaly.
California is proof that the climate crisis is real and we have to take it seriously. pic.twitter.com/XWd35aWOOj
The sudden juxtaposition from the worst drought in state in 1,200 years to the third rainiest 15-day period on record, behind storms that befell California in 1862 and 1866, has left many Americans wondering how climate change can be blamed for both seemingly contradictory events.
Peter Gleick, a climate scientist and the founder of the Pacific Institute in Oakland, Calif., told Yahoo News that while it will take time to assess how the current storms in the state have been influenced by climate change, the switch from one extreme to another is consistent with global warming.
“We don’t know until we’ve looked at the data exactly how climate change is influencing these storms that are now hitting California, but we do know that all weather today is influenced by human-caused climate change,” Gleick said. “We have ideas for how the current events are being influenced by climate change. We understand the mechanisms, but it’s often weeks or even months afterward before we can look at the data and see exactly what happened.”