Climate Change and California’s Drought

Climate Change and California’s Drought

Take an aerial tour of one of California’s drought-stricken landscapes in this clip from Years of Living Dangerously.


6 - 12+


Civics, Geography, Social Studies

In this video, Don Cheadle takes an aerial tour of one of California’s drought-stricken landscapes—a disappearing reservoir called Folsom Lake. Flying with him is Felicia Marcus, the state’s top water official, who explains that four years of drought and no snowpack in the Sierra Nevada mountains have severely depleted the reservoir, one of the state’s main water supplies.

“This is absolutely what our future looks like under climate change,” Marcus states.

Find more of this story in the episode titled “Uprooted,” part of the National Geographic Channel’s Years of Living Dangerously series.

Fast Fact

California, and most western states, rely heavily on snowpack each winter to resupply surface water streams and lakes. Lack of winter storms and warmer temperatures results in low snowmelt levels and depleted water supplies.

Fast Fact

In 2016, California took the lead among U.S. states in addressing climate change by extending legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Targeting both power plants and vehicles, the state committed to the goal of curbing carbon emissions to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. Laws passed in 2006 had already set targets to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020.

Fast Fact

Together, California Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, and former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, took a message about fighting climate change to the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in Paris in 2015. Brown also helped design an effort urging leaders of states, cities, and provinces around the world to commit to standards beyond what national leaders would adopt.

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Anne Haywood, Mountain to Sea Education,
Terrell Smith,
Lockheed Martin, Lockheed Martin
Funded by
National Geographic Channel, National Geographic Channel
Sarah Appleton, National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

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