The Stream, January 12, 2022: New Study Issues Grim Forecast For California’s San Joaquin Valley


  • Extreme temperatures in the U.S. last year shattered previous records, a New York Times analysis finds.
  • Flooding in South Africa kills ten and leaves hundreds more homeless.
  • A federal judge allows a lawsuit against an engineering company in Flint, Michigan to proceed.
  • A new project in Gaza will provide drinking water to over one hundred schools.

The forecast for California‘s San Joaquin Valley, one of the country’s leading agricultural centers, is grim.

“Many families in San Joaquin Valley rely on agriculture as their main source of income… Now, climate change is gunning for them. They need all the help they can get.” – Jose Pablo Ortiz-Partida, a climate and water scientist for the Union of Concerned Scientists. A new report found that the average annual temperature in the San Joaquin Valley could increase by four degrees within three decades. The change, which is expected to exacerbate heat waves, drought, and accompanying over-pumping of groundwater, will be felt most severely by poor farming communities in the valley. The researchers recommend a series of proposals designed to mitigate the economic and ecological blow of the temperature increase, such as repurposing land surrounding vulnerable communities for clean industry, wildlife corridors, and more.

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U.S. Extreme Temperature Records Smashed in 2021

Temperatures in the U.S. set more all-time records in 2021 than in any other year since 1994, according to an analysis from The New York Times. Eight percent of all weather stations across the country recorded their highest temperatures on record, many of them associated with the heat wave that ravaged the Pacific Northwest last June and a cold snap in February that left millions of southerners scrambling to find drinking water.

  • Why it matters: Around the world, extreme temperatures are deepening drought and exposing fragile water systems. This summer’s extreme conditions in the American West held major implications for human health, biodiversity, agriculture, food security, supply chains, cities, land use, and the most basic of human rights. In Texas, a deep freeze affected more than one thousand water suppliers, leaving nearly half of the state’s residents scavenging for clean water.

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Flooding near South Africa’s coastal city of East London has left at least ten people dead and hundreds more homeless, Reuters reports. Informal settlements just outside the city were the hardest hit, with hundreds of makeshift homes swept away in the deluge.


A federal judge ruled on Monday that an engineering company may be held liable for harms that arose out of Flint, Michigan’s contaminated water system. The judge wrote that Veolia North America LLC, which was hired to evaluate the city’s water system in 2015, may be sued over recommendations it did or did not make, as it was specifically asked to assess water quality. The firm now faces a lawsuit filed on behalf of four children who were exposed to contaminated water.

On the Radar

Hundreds of thousands in the Gaza Strip will soon gain access to fresh drinking water under a new initiative funded by the United Arab Emirates. The project will provide water desalination units to 125 schools managed by a U.N. refugee agency. In the face of a water and sanitation crisis that has lasted for decades, many families in Gaza currently rely on bottled water shipped on trucks.

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