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Faye Flam

Global Warming Is Testing California’s Innovative Spirit

To beat its climate whiplash, the Golden State must rely on two points of pride: ingenuity and love of nature.

We’re going to have to adapt.

We’re going to have to adapt.

Photographer: Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images

Can California adapt to both too much and too little water? Preparing for a future with either flooding or drought would be hard enough, but it’s worse to lurch between the two. And the latest deluge won’t even officially end the drought.

The scientific term for California’s weather problem is climate whiplash, which is getting worse in a warming world. But the state is adapting by summoning its famous powers of innovation, turning to a new form of water management known as green infrastructure: restoring nature preserves and using strategically placed ponds and trees to mitigate the damage.