Climate change dominates Tahoe summit talks


By Kathryn Reed

INCLINE VILLAGE – Under skies as clear as the near shore, nearly 700 people gathered Monday at Sand Harbor for what was essentially a bipartisan rally to keep protecting Lake Tahoe.

Former Vice President Al Gore returned to the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit after having launched the initial one in 1997 with then President Bill Clinton.

Former Vice President talks climate change Aug. 19 at the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit. Photo/Kathryn Reed

Former Vice President Al Gore talks climate change Aug. 19 at the Lake Tahoe Environmental Summit. Photo/Kathryn Reed

While speaker after speaker touted how the lake is clearer – having improved 11 feet since the first summit – what was not addressed was the near shore. Much of Tahoe’s shoreline is murky. And the smoke in the air from the American Fire that is 30 miles away was adding to the degradation as particles filtered down.

Sudeep Chandra, professor at UNR, was on Capitol Public Radio the morning of the summit. He spoke of how clarity is measured in the middle of the lake, not at the water’s edge.

He told CPR the health of the near shore has declined dramatically in the last 15 years.

“We are also talking about the dramatic loss of biodiversity at the bottom of the lake,” Chandra told CPR. “It could be an early warning sign for the overall health of the lake.”

He added, “We don’t have good monitoring for the near shore.”

Chandra told the radio station there has been a 72 percent decline of all native species on the bottom of Lake Tahoe. Reasons are related to climate change, less light coming through and more invasive species in the lake.

Climate and biological related projects are planned to get a better handle on the near shore problems.

He and others believe climate change is here to stay. And Gore believes it can be stopped.

“Today we will put 90 million tons of global warming pollution into the atmosphere as though it’s an open sewer,” Gore told the audience of nearly 700. (Usually a couple hundred people attend these summits.) “Here in Lake Tahoe an increase in air temperature means more precipitation that falls as rain and not snow. Snowsports are threatened. Ski resorts all over the world are threatened.”

He noted that the centerpiece of Lake Tahoe’s economy is tourism and that without snow and a pristine lake, that economy evaporates along with the snow and clarity.

Scientists predict the air temperature in the basin could increase by as much as 10 degrees in this century.

Gore said as temps increase in the West the number of wildfires will dramatically rise.

“Eleven states are fighting 35 gigantic fires as we meet here today,” he said.

While Gore said Tahoe should invite the world for a summit to show what it is doing, he never offered solutions for global warming. Nor did anyone else.

What the senators and governors from California and Nevada all pledged was to work together and keep spending money for the sake of Lake Tahoe. Nearly $2 billion has been spent in 15 years on projects to improve Lake Tahoe’s clarity, with another $415 million sought through the Lake Tahoe Restoration Act.


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Comments (16)
  1. A.B. says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Algore is a hypocrite, flying into the area on his private jet.

  2. instagator says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    I don’t know how anyone could take Al Gore seriously, what a fraud

  3. Lisa says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Fine…disregard Gore, but listen to the UNR Professor. Your dislike of Gore doesn’t make the facts go away.

  4. dumbfounded says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Hypocrisy is an interesting word… George H. W. Bush ran as the “environmental president”. I think it is safe to say that many politicians could be called hypocrites very easily. The title doesn’t belong to just one man, woman or party.

  5. Mamba says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Out of 700 people, there were only 4 African-Americans at the Summit; perhaps we could open a dialogue on the exclusion of people of color in the Sierra Nevada Mtns. and in Lake Tahoe specifically.

  6. CJ McCoy says - Posted: August 20, 2013


    What facts?

  7. Marlene @ tahoe says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    I can’t believe any thinking person could pay ANY attention to this fraud (Gore) and American Sell out.
    How many ligitamate scientists have been ignored and discredited in the name of this Geo-political SCAM?
    Just because the latest generation has been indoctrinated in the latest lingo: Sustainable, green, enviro-Consciousness, etc., etc., doesn’t mean a $ sign needs to be attached to it as in carbon credits like this schister Gore invented!! or the phoney Co’s supported like Solyndra, 123 Electric, and such, that syphened off billions of taxpayer dollars, all in the name of GREEN energy that were all political paybacks.
    Yes, lets always take care to be responsible and non-wasteful, non-abusing of our resources on an individual and family basis but to create this stigma that what has brought us to the world of technological advances, that has saved lives and created efficiencies never before imagined, as polluting or bad, is so wrong minded. It is the perpetual corruption/greed/ of men that run governm’ts that is the problem. As long as there is the ability of one human to dominate another, create regime’s to enslave the weak, create phoney laws to regulate and control, we will always have struggles and dissention.
    To pay homage to the likes of the ‘Gore’s’ of the world, just shows how mislead or uneducated people are to REAL FACTS of the natural world and how credance is given to fads and glossy wrappings that are empty of any value.

  8. Squawllywood says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Al Gore is a fraud, plain & simple.

    Yes, the climate is changing; in fact, it has been changing since the beginning of time on earth!

    To insinuate that mankind can alter the climate or it’s trajectory is simply absurd, especially coming from a fraud like Al Gore.

  9. cosa pescado says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    ‘The climate has always been changing’ is the laziest argument one can make.

    Marlene, you have no facts and can’t differentiate between weather and climate. Completely uninformed, and yet you keep writing.

  10. CJ McCoy says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    cosa pescedo,

    what facts? where are the facts?

  11. Dogula says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Interesting observation, Mamba. I noticed that too. But I also noticed that other than government officials and security people, the crowd was all local. Which means the percentage of people of color was pretty accurately representative of the population here. Do you want to start artificially importing Black people here just to make a point?
    The people who live here and have enough free time and money to pay attention to matters beyond bare subsistence (like environment & politics) are overwhelmingly White. Just a fact up in most mountain communities in America.

  12. CJ McCoy says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    Hey Lisa and casa pescedo,,,, where are your facts?

    You two seem lost to the “slave” thinking of your leaders, hucksters like ol’ Al Gore and you are unable to respond with any facts…

    what’s up with that?

  13. callmejohnson says - Posted: August 20, 2013

    I want to say something nice about Gore.
    I believe he has lost some of his grotesque belly fat.
    There I said it.

  14. tahoedad says - Posted: August 21, 2013

    I applaud Al Gore for devoting his life to trying to turn the tide on climate change, when he could be kicking it by a golf course. Anyone who cares about the future for our children and grandchildren ought to be doing the same. If your child was seriously ill, and you took him or her to 100 specialists, and 97 said “take immediate action or she may die” and 3 said “don’t worry about it,” what would be the responsible decision?

    That’s what we’re facing with climate change. Marlene et al, the truth is that 97% of climate scientists agree that climate change is caused by human activities:

    There is a long list of scientific organizations listed there, with clear statements such as this from the American Meteorological Association:

    “It is clear from extensive scientific evidence that the dominant cause of the rapid change in climate of the past half century is human-induced increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide (CO2), chlorofluorocarbons, methane, and nitrous oxide.” (2012)”

    Here more about the scientific consensus on climate change:

    Here’s a consensus statement from scientists on climate change:

    Here are some facts about the impact of climate change at Lake Tahoe and in California from two scientific reports recently released:

    From the “State of the Lake Report” issued last week by the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (

    • Annual average surface temperature in 2012 was 52.8 degrees Fahrenheit, the highest ever recorded for Lake Tahoe.

    • Snow has decreased as a fraction of total precipitation, from an average of 51 percent in 1910 to 36 percent in 2012.

    • A continued long-term trend of fewer days with below-freezing temperatures caused snowmelt to peak on May 4, 2012, earlier than historical conditions

    From a report issued 8.8.13 on climate change impacts in California based on research activities carried out by state and federal agencies, universities, and other research institutions:

    Temperatures: The state’s high, low and average temperatures are all rising, and extreme heat events also have increased in duration and frequency. The rate of warming has accelerated since the mid-1970s, and night time (minimum) temperatures have increased almost twice as fast as maximum (daytime) temperatures.

    Wildfires: The number of acres burned by wildfires has been increasing since 1950. The size, severity, duration and frequency of wildfires are greatly influenced by climate. The three largest fire years on record in California occurred in the last decade, and annual acreage burned since 2000 is almost twice that for the 1950-2000 period.

    Water: Spring snowmelt runoff has decreased, indicating warmer winter temperatures and more precipitation falling as rain rather than snow. Earlier and decreased runoff can reduce water supplies, even when overall rainfall remains the same. This trend could mean less water available for agriculture, the environment and a growing population.

    Coast and Ocean: A number of indicators reflect physical and biological changes in the ocean, impacting a range of marine species, including sea lions, seabirds and salmon. And data for Monterey Bay shows increased carbon dioxide levels in coastal waters, which can harm shell-forming organisms and have impacts throughout the marine food chain.

    Species Migration: Certain plants and animals have responded to habitat changes influenced by warming. For example, conifer forests in the Sierra Nevada have been moving upslope and certain small mammals in Yosemite National Park have moved to higher elevations compared to the early 1900s.

  15. Jason says - Posted: August 21, 2013

    Marlene, you are absolutely correct. When Hollywood gave this clown an Academy award for a cut and paste propaganda video, which includes photos from the disaster movie “The Day After Tomorrow”; it was suddenly evident how many Americans can’t discern whats real from what is made up. These same Americans can’t understand they are being scammed; and most importantly, they don’t ask questions! Seriously, people all you have to do is follow the money trail. To be taken seriously The original data that scientists used to “show” climate change must be used in a second (at the very least) controlled study and produce the same results. Hasn’t been done!

  16. John A says - Posted: August 22, 2013

    With TRPA’s approval of big corporate high density recreational development near the lake what’s the point of spending Billions more for Tahoe’s protection ? ( Edgewood Lodge on the Golf Course and Friday’s Station- 250 acres, Heavenly Vail Resorts- 165 acres, and possibly North Star – 250 acres )
    Seems kinda hypocritical for an agency who’s charter is to protect the lake.