Episode 6, full transcript

WARREN: Episode Six. When Lightning Strikes. 

Mike: So I'm an avid mountain climber, and I've climbed all over and I've been involved with a lot of close calls. I had a helicopter crash on a rescue. I’ve been caught in an avalanche, and I’ve been struck by lightning three times.

WARREN: That is Mike Gauthier. He’s a mountaineer and all-around badass. He doesn’t mean “struck by lightning three different times.” They struck all at once.

Mike: And so the story goes. We were climbing the Grand Teton highest peak in Wyoming. And we left early morning and late afternoon thundershowers are pretty common in that mountain range. But we were pre-dawn. We were up on the route as the sun was coming up pretty high and basically a storm had rolled in. And it didn't seem that bad. It was August. And, you know, and I'm like, “OK, it's snowing, but it's not like negative 20.” We kept climbing up the mountain. And it's a steep technical climb. Anyway, the weather got so bad that it’s whiteout conditions. It was blowing and we were at 13,500 feet. So 200 feet from the summit, and suddenly as I pull up to a ledge, I’m looking at my climbing partner Fletcher -- probably eight feet away -- and suddenly it’s like we’re in a lightbulb and the light came on. And, there’s bolts radiating between us. And the lightning bolt didn’t hit me on the head. It actually hit the rock -- the gigantic rock -- right behind me and radiated out. And, it lifted me off my feet and his eyes grew like silver dollars and our third buddy Dave who was down the rope, he started screaming, “I’ve been hit! I’ve been hit!” And we pull him up. And my first thing was we took out all of the metal equipment. And we crawled into a cleft to get away from -- because the wind was blowing 40 miles an hour and it’s blowing snow and graupel. After about ten minutes after the strike, I thought, “well, maybe it's just -- again, it's just bad weather. We're going to survive bad weather.” I'm not afraid of bad weather. Remotely. And so I actually got up and I was like trying to get the inner mojo going. And I was like, “bring it on!” And I crawl back from the cleft and then suddenly another strike hit and you could -- burning hair. You could literally smell the burning hair and you could see sparks. And then it turns out, by the way, the worst place to go when you're being struck by lightning is into a tight space because then you're like a filament in a lightbulb. So it arced. It actually was easier to arc between us. And that's when we got to the burn holes on us. And so and within another ten minutes, a third strike had hit us. And we were basically, at that point, cowering. There was nothing we could do. We couldn't go anywhere. But then, lo and behold, the weather cleared. It was 11:00 in the morning. So that was a really early storm. And I insisted that we get to the summit and get the hell out of there. And that's what we did. 

Warren: You still went to the summit?

Mike: I was that close, I wasn't going to give up. And at that point, the weather was clear. So there's no reason to go down yet. So, yes, I forced onto the summit, and we made it. And none of us have been back. We may go back one day and visit. 

WARREN: Hit by lightning three times. Three times. And Mike still made it to the top of the mountain. And, while he can laugh about it now, he told us later that he was scared. Like, scared-for-his-life scared. But, this isn’t a story about fear. It’s about perseverance -- facing down challenges like climate change. And, Mike brings this perseverance to his current job in a place far away from the snowy mountains of Wyoming. 


He’s the Superintendent of the Mojave National Preserve. A place dramatically impacted by changes in the weather.

I’m Warren Olney and this is In Our Backyard. Part six in our series about the local impacts of climate change in Southern California.


Let’s take a look at the desert.

You know, it’s one of California’s most precious assets. Mountains surrounding majestic valleys full of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else in the world. 

It’s a delicate ecosystem full of hardy species who have learned to survive extreme weather. But like everywhere else, climate change is throwing desert life out of balance. 

Not only do California’s deserts feel some of the earliest impacts of climate change, they’re also being asked to carry another, very heavy burden. They’re home now to a growing green power industry, where wind and solar farms are now dotting the landscape. We’re going to hear about that in a minute. But, first, here’s some background on the Mojave Preserve. 

Mike: So we have close to 700,000 acres of wilderness, which is huge. That's nearly the size of Yosemite National Park. 


Mike: When you’re in the heart of this preserve, when you walk to the top of Tabletop or you go to Wild Mesa Butte, or you climb Park Mountain or New York mountain, you will feel that you are really in a vast wilderness in a really pristine area. And yet there's been human activity all over it and there's been human activity for 10,000, 15,000 years. But it's very, it's very beautiful and it's very remote and the dark skies are still real here. You can see the stars at night. 

WARREN: Human activity for tens of thousands of years. And more recently the Mojave hosted a lot of activities that have taken their toll. Mining and cattle-grazing, included. But, a lot of those practices were scaled back when President Bill Clinton set aside 1.6 million acres of this delicate landscape for protection. 

Mike: In 1994, it was created with the California Desert Protection Act. There were a lot of conservation agencies, recreation groups, and those that use the land like mining, grazing and those sorts of groups that came together and looked at sort of a holistic approach to desert management, desert protection. There was some amount of pushback on that idea. It didn't happen immediately. That was a process of over 25 years to create the Preserve itself. And we have a little bit more of a conservation theme clearly, and a preservation theme. 

WARREN: But now, climate change is making that harder in the Mojave Preserve than in many other places. So what does that mean on the ground for the rangers?

Debra: Our policy, and this comes back to National Park Service policy. Our policy says that we do not intervene in natural events. 

WARREN: Debra Hughson is Chief of Science and Stewardship for the Mojave National Preserve. 

Debra: So if there’s a landslide in Rocky Mountain National Park or if there's an avalanche in Rainier, I mean, that's a natural process. We don't get involved to do anything about that. But when there are unacceptable changes on the landscape because of human activity, then our policy does give us the option to intervene.

WARREN: We’ll talk about these interventions in just a minute, but the changes in the weather are no surprise for desert veterans, like Hughson. 

Debra: It’s really interesting because things are happening as the models predicted about 20 years ago that indicated the precipitation in the Mojave was going to be in a steadily drying trend over the next several centuries. And that's exactly what we've seen. We are in a drought that's almost almost unheard of in the last millennia here right now in southern California. And then another paper indicated that even though the mean in precipitation is decreasing, the variability around that mean is increasing. And so this is actually a climate change hotspot because of the annual variability in precipitation. You get really, really super wet years. And then you wind up with the drought that we're in right now where we get no rain at all. 

WARREN: “Variability.” That means one rainy season’s not like the last one, and the one after that may be different still. And even when it does rain, it’s not always good for the desert. 

Debra: So there's two kinds of rainfall. A winter front will be a broad front that covers a very large area. It'll be cloudy for several days or a week. And rain is kind of a steady drizzle. And what happens is that that tends to soak in over a very large area and provide a lot of soil moisture. Then, what happens in the summertime is that you get these cumulus buildups, these thunderhead buildups that are very localized and very intense. But it rains there like several inches in an afternoon, in a few hours. And what happens to that water is it goes roaring down the arroyos, causing erosion and sedimentation and changes the face of the landscape. And that doesn't do the plants any good because it's basically there and gone. It doesn't soak in.

Warren: So it sounds to me as if climate change has caused variability rather than some sort of steady move in one direction or another. 

Debra: You know, that's the interesting thing. And that's very much in line with my experience is that it's not the change in the average. You know, you talk about, “well, climate change is going to be one point five degrees C on average. And, it’s only a degree. What's the big deal?” But what gets you are the extremes. 

WARREN: Extremes. Unusual in a desert? Isn’t it always a place of extremes?

Debra: What does it matter? It's already a desert. It's already a wasteland. I hear that a lot from my father. So a desert in general is defined as an area that receives less than 10 inches annually of precipitation. But 10 inches is quite a lot in this environment for a lot of a lot of species. And so the preserve being in the confluence of three desert types, the Great Basin, the Sonoran, and the Mojave Desert. We have an incredible diversity of plants. We have almost a thousand species of vascular plants and about 140, 150 species of rare plants. There's plants in the Mojave Preserve that are found nowhere else in the world. There's a species of Prunus out in the Lanfair Valley that maybe 3,000 individuals exist in the whole wide world and only in Mojave Preserve because we have enough precipitation to keep them alive. 

WARREN: Now you wouldn’t know from just driving by, or even as a daily visitor, but compared to some other deserts around the world, the Mojave is a jungle.

Debra: Back when we could still travel, I wanted to see the driest desert in the world, which is the Atacama Desert. And so my sister and I went to Iquique, Chile, where the average annual precipitation is on the order of a few millimeters a year and has the longest record on the planet for absolutely no precipitation ever recorded. And there's nothing there. There's nothing there. It's just bare rock. It's like the moon. It's like, it's like Mars. There's nothing growing. And so I think that's the difference is what we have now is the beautiful, relatively lush eastern Mojave Desert with a thousand species of vascular plants and rare plants found nowhere else in the world. And where we're headed is towards the Atacama. 

WARREN: And, these changing weather patterns can be deadly in the desert. A devastating example is last year’s Cima Dome Fire in the Mojave Preserve.

Debra: So this last year when the Dome Fire happened, it was kind of an odd spring. It was very dry. And then late in the spring, into April, it just started raining and the rain just was crazy for a couple of weeks. And of course, the plants responded. And then we had all of the growth of the annuals, the perennials, all the fine fuel load, all the shrubs, everything we're doing wonderfully. And then we had a very hot, hot summer. And it wasn't a crazy monsoon season. All it took was a single lightning strike. Forty three thousand acres of Joshua Trees gone. 

WARREN: About 1.3 million Joshua trees were burned in that fire. And when catastrophic events like that happen, the impacts are felt across the entire ecosystem. Here’s Drew Kaiser, he’s a botanist at the Preserve. 

Drew: So Joshua Trees are a keystone species. The habitat that they occupy, there are multiple animals that rely on them. Birds for nesting sites. They have a special relationship with the Yucca moth, which is the only thing that will pollinate them. 

WARREN: So it’s important to know that creatures that escaped the flames are still affected by it. And let’s get back to the Joshua Trees. Here’s something you might not have known, they aren’t really trees at all. They’re a kind of Yucca in the agave family. And they’re an icon of the California desert.   

Drew: These are different from a lot of the other yucca because they form these trunks, essentially. And so how you think of a tree, kind of having a big trunk and then branching out as it gets taller. Yeah, and just kind of getting all loosey goosey with it, you know, kind of reaching up to the sky. But then also almost like, like they're dancing. 

WARREN: Well, when the fire broke out, it was a dance of death. And Drew, he had to watch his beloved Joshua Trees go up in flames. 

Drew: It was really heartbreaking. Yeah. I wasn't on the front lines. I was kind of watching remotely and then getting updates from everyone. And, yeah, just wringing my hands, losing sleep, you know, thinking about what I'm going to do. I’m just, just one person here. But, yeah, the Joshua trees throughout most of their range are going to be affected by increasing temperatures, increasing drought. And, you know, we're going to get this big contraction of the, of the range of the species. 

WARREN: But, as the stakes rise for environments like the Mojave, the changing desert has something special to offer. 

Mike: Climate change is obviously affecting the whole Mojave Desert, and with that comes trade-offs and so one example that people may not think about, but as we develop alternative energy -- say solar or wind farms -- that's going to have to come on land somewhere. 

WARREN: And, the Mojave, it’s just right for these types of alternative energy projects with a unique combination of special qualities. First, it’s one of two places on Earth with the world’s highest “solar radiance.” That’s the output of energy that comes from the Sun. Then, there’s that geographic location. The Mojave isclose to where tens of millions of people live. Places now desperately needing alternative sources of energy.  

Already there are nine solar farms in the Mojave, including Ivanpah, the world’s largest and there will likely be many more to come. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan covers 10.8 million acres of publicly-owned desert in seven California counties. Signed by Barack Obama in 2016, it’s part of a larger effort to go green that’s already made a lot of progress in this state. 

Here are some numbers to think about. At the turn of the century, 11% of energy in California came from renewable sources. Twenty years later, it’s now 34%. With the Conservation Plan in place, it could get to 60% by 2030 and 100 percent by 2045. 

But, as we heard Mike suggest, there are trade-offs. 

Mike: It's a brave new world where we're learning. And you can't make decisions in a vacuum. There's always consequences for every action in nature. 

WARREN: So what’s good for tens of millions of people crowded into vast urban landscapes is not so good for the desert just over the mountains. 

Mike: If we develop, say, a solar farm or a solar array or a wind farm somewhere, well, that could be impacting a habitat to, say, desert tortoise or Joshua trees. 

WARREN: Now, the impacts are already showing up. In the case of solar farms, entire swaths of land have been mowed over to install thost panels, that’s killing native cacti and other desert scrub in the process. And when that the flora disappears, the animals don’t have food to eat. What’s more, the solar fields disrupt habitat and migration patterns. So, in short, unique species -- some already on the brink of extinction -- can be threatened when we build green energy in the desert without taking their needs into account. Now, here’s a prime example -- it’s the desert tortoise. Here again, the Mojave’s chief scientist, Debra Hughson.

Debra: So the desert tortoise is not doing very well at all. Fish and Wildlife Service started line distance sampling about 12 years ago, I think, to monitor these things in a statistically sound sample design range-wide over the recovery units. So what they do is they mock these random transects and make observations off the, off the centerline. And from that you can calculate the density of desert tortoise per area. And then there's a sort of a threshold density below which the species no longer becomes viable. In other words, there's not enough of them there that they can find each other and propagate and continue the population and throughout the Mojave Desert, I believe that there are only two where the population is stable. All of the rest of them are declining and a frightening number of them are actually below that threshold density. 

WARREN: In the past, a lot of tortoises died during the construction of some solar farm projects. Trucks run over them, their burrows were destroyed, hurting a species that’s seen its population decline by ninety percent just since 1950. Nowadays, those projects take the threatened tortoise into account -- they plan to move them from their burrows during construction with the bulldozers moving through, and could help them survive. But, solar farms aren’t the only challenges for this threatened species.

Debra: Biologists like to use the phrase death by a thousand cuts. And so with the tortoise, there are a lot of threats, climate change being one of them. And again, a big part of that is loss of water sources. 

WARREN: Scientists tell us California’s facing the worst drought in 1,200 years. And, that might well be turning into a permanent feature, which puts the entire desert at risk, including the tortoise. 

Debra: A desert tortoise is said to be able to survive if it can drink at least once a year. But what happens if it can't drink once a year. Can it go two years? Three years? Probably not. The continued loss of precipitation has been a real impact on the tortoise, as well as their forage plants. If it doesn't rain, then the forage plants don't grow and so they don't have any resources at all. Then, of course, habitat fragmentation plays into this. A big problem that we have in the Preserve is just simply getting hit by vehicles. 

WARREN: So you got solar farms. You’ve got your drought. Add onto that mining and military maneuvers, urban encroachment. All of those are to blame for what the tortoise is facing now. And when a keystone species like the tortoise is knocked out, the effects reverberate throughout the entire ecosystem. Seeds aren’t dispersed. Burrows aren’t built, leaving other animals exposed to the heat. And all of that damages an already fragile lifecycle in the desert. 

Debra: But yeah, I guess. I guess. What do you do? 

WARREN: Well, Debra and other Mojave Preserve staff members have already answered that question with projects big and small. Neal Darby is a Wildlife Biologist in the Preserve.  

Neal: In the desert it’s very difficult because things are so harsh and driven by precipitation. When I go out and do some restoration work, so I want to go out and restore some habitat for desert tortoises. I find that if I can create more micro-sites, you know, something where I create undulating surface soils, so ridges and depressions and plant, vertical mulch. So I take dead plants and establish them in these ridges and depression to protect them from the wind and provide shade. 

WARREN: The purpose of Neal’s microsites? Trapping the water that otherwise will inevitably evaporate in the heat. 

Neal: We can utilize what little moisture we are getting to help try to establish the forage plants and natural vegetation cover that the animals need. And, you know, sometimes all it takes is just that little bit of shade and the water can persist just enough for certain plants to hang in there. 

WARREN: Plants aren’t the only creatures in need of water. Neal and park rangers also fill up outdoor water basins called “guzzlers” so various animals can drink. The guzzlers were originally used by game hunters a century ago, and they were grandfathered in when the Preserve was established. Now, of course, the rangers are affected by the drought and rising temperatures too. 

Neal: I've experienced it. I've experienced heat exhaustion out trying to track bighorn sheep and its 110. And eventually you have to stop. You have to stop and get in the shade, rest and drink plenty of water and it takes a lot more safety precaution on our part because we’re becoming more exposed. I got to keep stressing to our crews, you need to plan your day, work early in the mornings. Get inside during the day, carry plenty of water, so it certainly -- it’s added a great safety component to our work to make sure that people aren't overdoing it.

WARREN: That’s heavy duty. But, as you’ve heard, the plants and the animals out in the desert are worth what it takes to preserve them. Along with the microsites, there are other, bigger projects in the works.

Julie: Oh is that a baby. 

Gabby: It’s a baby. 

Julie: Oh my God. It’s slightly larger...

WARREN: That’s our producer, Julie Carli. She went out to the Ivanpah Desert Tortoise Research Facility in the Mojave Preserve. From the outside, she reports it looks like an office building next to a tiny prison with barbed wire gates and heavy netting. They keep predators, especially ravens, away from the tiny babies. She made friends with a very shy baby tortoise. 

Julie: So this guy is like under some sort of trunk. And he was there and he was having a good time and then he turned away and walked away. He said, “I hate you people. Go away.” 

WARREN: Julie was hardly alone. Susanna Mann and Gabby Barnas were there, too. Wildlife technicians using science to raise baby tortoises. The process is called headstarting. And, here’s Gabby, she has the basics. 

Gabby: So this project has come a long way where when it started, well we know that head starting is a usually a good technique to get through that initial phase of like really high mortality for juveniles to kind of skip that phase so that you can release them so they're going to survive better. But then it became a question of what's the best way to headstart them. And so it started with raising them outdoors in a protected space. And then it was raising them in an outdoor protected space with supplemental food and supplemental water, and then eventually morphed into, well, if you raise them inside, then they're even more protected and they can grow longer and faster. And so it's just been like fine tuning the method of how do you raise them so that they're ready to survive but then also cost-efficient and just doesn't take forever. 

WARREN: Susanna has a research project of her own. 

Susanna: The main part of it is I released two different groups of tortoises. One group that were combo reward, which combo is they were raised inside for one year here and then we put them outside in the outdoor enclosures for one year. So they’re two-year-olds combo-reared. And then I also released a group of one-year-olds that had been raised here indoors. So I'm mostly looking at to see if that second year outside is really even needed. Currently the combo-reared technique is the most efficient and they survive really well, but if we can definitively say that the second year is not needed, then we could even cut down costs or create more efficiency with cranking out more tortoises. 

WARREN: Now fine tuning the process is nothing new. Since the headstarting project in Mojave first started over a decade ago, the lead researcher Tracey Tuberville and her colleagues Kurt Buhlman and Brian Todd, they’ve all been busy refining the program. 

Tracey: So the purpose of headstarting, really, it can be multi-faceted. So the first is really protecting them from predators and environmental temperature extremes. But you can also manipulate their growth rates. And so we see them almost double in size during their first year. We call them the size of a five or six-year-old wild juvenile tortoise. So we're protecting them from predators, getting animals to a larger size faster and then releasing them into the wild when they would hopefully be more resistant to predation and desiccation.

WARREN: This headstarting program is a much needed intervention since fewer than five out of 100 young tortoises will survive long enough to grow up. 

Tracey: So we have produced over 600 hatchlings and we've released over 300 of them into the wild. And we're currently tracking about 150 of those juveniles. This past Fall, we finally decided we could not continue tracking every turtle that we had released and had survived. So we're tracking 150 of them and we have a pipeline of over 250 animals that are ready for release in subsequent years. 

WARREN: Two hundred and fifty. Doesn’t sound like a lot. But, with only about 100,000 tortoises left in the wild right now, that is major progress.

Warren: Why do people care about the tortoises, given all of the other things that they have to worry about when they're out in the Mojave Desert? 

Tracey: That's always a really challenging question. Of course, tortoises are near and dear to my heart. They are federally protected for one, but they are also just of their own accord, a very important part of the ecosystem. Their burrows provide important habitat for lots of other species, some of which are rare. They also, because they are herbivores and moving about the landscape, they can also help be dispersers of seeds, but they're also just an iconic species of the desert. And I think most people who meet a tortoise are fascinated by them. They don't bite. They're very curious. You know, they're very innocuous, and I always think even hatchlings look like little old people as soon as they're hatched out. So people, I think, are drawn to this charismatic species and my colleague, and he's also my husband -- Kurt Buhlmann -- always likes to say people either love turtles or they don't know yet that they love them. You'd be hard pressed to find people that just did not like turtles.

WARREN: Well, I’ll buy that. I’m a lover of tortoises. But, here’s the kind of question reporters just have to ask. Since the heat and drought and fire will persist as climate change increases, aren’t we just setting them up to die? Well, that brings up back to those micro-sites and other projects that Neal Darby is working on. 

Neal: We have an anthropogenic influence that’s driving everything out here, and so I think. I'm not trying to stop things from adapting and shifting, but what I'm trying to do is slow that anthropogenic change down. So that the animals have time to adapt. I mean, when things happen suddenly, you don't have time, you can’t adjust to that. But if we can slow it down enough it allows the animals to adapt, move, shift their range, so forth, then nature will be resilient. 

WARREN: So the microsites help the tortoises in the wild catch up, while sexually mature ones are released from the headstarting program. But the rangers aren’t just focused on the tortoises. Remember the 43,000 acres of Joshua Trees killed by the Cima Dome Fire of 2020? Mojave Preserve botanist Drew Kaiser, and others we’ve talked to are taking serious measures to intervene on their behalf. 

Drew: We are actively planning the restoration right now. I have a few people and we're going to be going out doing some baseline monitoring and we'll be continuing to look at the vegetation’s response. 

WARREN: Part of the process has been making sure that non-native grasses don’t start to sprout in the Preserve. As we discussed in our wildfire episode, they displace the native, fire-resistant species and that  can make fires more intense. But there was also a bit of luck involved. 

Drew: 2018 there was actually really good Joshua Tree bloom that year. Just hundreds of thousands of Joshua Trees blooming all on the Mojave Preserve. And so during that time we actually collected a bunch of seed and kind of opportunistic and we kind of had thoughts to plant Joshua trees in certain disturbed areas, you know, like human-caused fires and cattle-grazing areas. And then the Dome fire happened. And so now we're kind of switching course with these trees that we were going to be planting in other areas and are going to be planting them in the interior of the burn to kind of help jump start reforestation of Cima Dome.

WARREN: For the last few years, the seedlings have been growing at a nearby nursery.

Drew: So right now we have about 1,500 Joshua trees that are being grown for us there, about two to three years old. And we're going to be growing probably about like 3,000 more. And with this restoration project. We're not necessarily trying to replant every tree. What we're trying to do is provide a seed source for the really hot burn areas where we aren't expecting to see Joshua Trees come in from the outside for, you know, a hundred years or so.

WARREN: The idea of setting nature aside so it can take its course goes back to our first episode. Early conservationists, including ancestors of mine, thought of nature as separate from human beings -- available for us to use for whatever we need, or to leave alone “just as it is”. The Native Californians who got here long before we did had a different relationship -- you and nature are not separate, you’re part of each other.

Now, human-caused climate change has given us no choice but to increase human intervention. And, that isn’t just happening in the Mojave Preserve. All over the country, rangers are updating management practices as the world heats up. New guidance just handed down by the National Park Service directs park managers to act as stewards over a radical transformation: choose what can be saved, assess what can be relocated, and prepare for entire species to vanish. For example, research predicts the iconic Joshua Tree could disappear from the nearby Joshua Tree National Park by the end of this century. 

Debra: We're ephemeral beings on this landscape and we're here to make sure that it's as good or better status when we leave it as to when we took over. It's a, it's a constant struggle. It's a constant struggle. In another way, you might have you might feel sort of like the Texans felt who were defending the Alamo. You might feel like it's a losing battle at times. 

Warren: You said you might feel like it's a losing battle, and yet you keep going.

Debra: I can't let myself give up. Even if few, even if the future is completely dark, completely grim, and a lot of climate models and other other things suggest that it might be, I can't use that as an excuse to give up. It's just not possible.

Warren: Why not? 

Debra: I guess the same reason why the, the soldiers at the Alamo didn't give up. You fight to the end. 

WARREN: Debra herself, she’s an example of someone devoted to a cause despite insurmountable odds. And then there’s Mike, who persevered after a near-death experience: indomitable resilience. And Drew and Tracey. Everybody you’ve heard from in this series -- taking care of our backyard -- as best they can. That’s some comfort to me as I think about what’s to come for my own children and grandchildren. I hope you take some comfort too. 

In this series, you’ve heard about pollution, heat, drought, wildfires, and sea level rise, not with the false promise of heading them off, but emphasizing the urgent need to act now for mitigation, adaptation, and damage control.

For me, this series has meant a change. Letting people tell their own stories… and I’ve learned a lot of lessons -- sometimes uncomfortable ones -- but I have to listen and so do you. The weather is not going to give us a choice. 

We ignored Climate Change for so long that it’s now too late to prevent it, but it’s not too late to help prevent it from being worse than it needs to be.

As we publish our final episode for now, we’d love to hear from you. There’s always a lot to learn. Leave a comment on Apple Podcasts, or send me an email Warren.Olney@kcrw.org. I will always be glad to hear from you.  

In Our Backyard it’s an original series from Inside Voices Media. You can find out more about Inside Voices at InsideVoicesMedia.com

It’s hosted by me, Warren Olney.

Our producer is Julie Carli.

This series was edited by Gary Scott.

With fact-checking by Alec Cowan.

Sound engineering by JC Swiatek.

And Katie McMurran is our sound designer.

This series was made possible through the generous support of Climate Resolve, it addresses global climate change with local action. Learn more about Climate Resolve at climate resolve.org.

Special thanks to Sean Hecht. He took his time to talk through every episode and encouraged our reporting the whole way through. 

David Colgan and Alison Hewitt from UCLA’s Institute of the Environment and Sustainability for helping us contact experts throughout the series. And, William Boyd from the Institute for his legal expertise on energy policy. 

And, thanks to the many, many experts and advocates who spoke with us along the way.