Photo: Eric Thayer for The New York Times
California is one of America’s marvels. By moving vast quantities of water and suppressing wildfires for decades, the state has transformed its arid and mountainous landscape into the richest, most populous and bounteous place in the nation.
But now, those same feats have given California a new and unwelcome category of superlatives.
This year is the state’s worst wildfire season on record. That follows its hottest August on record; a punishing drought that lasted from 2011 to last year; and one of its worst flood emergencies on record three years ago, when heavy rains caused the state’s highest dam to nearly fail, forcing more than 180,000 people to flee.
The same manufactured landscapes that have enabled California’s tremendous growth, building the state into a $3 trillion economy that is home to one in 10 Americans, have also left it more exposed to climate shocks, experts say.
And those shocks will only get worse.
“There’s sort of this sense that we can bend the world to our will,” said Kristina Dahl, a senior climate scientist in San Francisco for the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Climate change is exposing the vulnerabilities in the […]