First the bad news, from Monday’s report from the United Nations on climate change. 

A global average temperature increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius by 2040 is basically unavoidable at this point, according to hundreds of scientists on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change

For California, that likely means more severe wildfires and drought, which are already pretty terrible. Follow CalMatters’ coverage of the drought on our new page.

Said former Gov. Jerry Brown in response to the report: “The horror is here.”

Now the less bad, but honestly still pretty bad, news: Keeping the temperature rise under 1.5 degrees is possible, but only with “immediate, rapid and large-scale reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.”

A majority of Californians are up for that in theory.

A Public Policy Institute of California poll from July found that three-quarters of Californians — and an equal share of likely voters — support the state’s goal of cutting statewide emissions to 40% of their 1990 levels by the end of this decade.

The question is how. Last year, Gov. Gavin Newsom, noting that cars and trucks produce 40% of the state’s emissions, proposed banning the sale of new gas-powered cars in 2035. 

Only 49% of Californians support that.

In inextricably related news: The Dixie Fire in northern California has now torched nearly half a million acres.

And while climate change is partially to blame for our state’s chronic flammability, forest management is the other culprit. Former President Donald Trump was quick to blame the state for failing to thin its forests, even though the largest woodland landlord in the state is the federal government. But the feds may soon step up their game: In the $1 trillion infrastructure bill wending its way through Congress, more than $3 billion is set aside for forest management and wildfire fighting. 

The Biden administration also recently ordered a pay raise for wildfire fighting crews. No wonder why: The U.S. Forest Service’s firefighting divisions, like employers everywhere, are having a hard time finding people to hire.

The coronavirus bottom line: As of Sunday, California had 3,950,172 confirmed cases (+0.26% from previous day) and 64,318 deaths (+0.01% from previous day), according to state data.

California has administered 44,703,438 vaccine doses, and 63.6% of eligible Californians are fully vaccinated.

Plus: CalMatters regularly updates this pandemic timeline tracking the state’s daily actions. We’re also tracking the state’s coronavirus hospitalizations by county and lawsuits against COVID-19 restrictions.

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1. Vaccine prerequisites

Students walk across campus at California State University East Bay on February 25, 2020. CSU is requiring that all students be vaccinated by Sept. 30. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters
Students walk across campus at California State University East Bay on February 25, 2020. CSU is requiring that all students be vaccinated by Sept. 30. Photo by Anne Wernikoff, CalMatters

On paper, the new California State University policy is simple: All students on campus have to be vaccinated.

But as CalMatters higher ed reporter Mikhail Zinshteyn reports, that’s going to be easier said than done. At many campuses, the systemwide vaccine requirement goes into effect long after the first day of classes, raising the possibility of unvaccinated students mingling around campus for as long as a month. 

That has both students and faculty worried, with some professors threatening to teach by Zoom until the vaccine deadline arrives. The anxiety is particularly acute as the delta variant continues to rip through the state’s unvaccinated population. Over the last two weeks, COVID hospitalizations have almost doubled, Ana B. Ibarra and Barbara Feder Ostrov report for CalMatters.

Cal State East Bay public health professor Andrew Kelly blames CSU leaders for engaging in that most collegiate of vices: procrastination. 

  • Kelly: “Obviously, if the CSU system had changed policies…at the same time the UC system did, there would have been more time for students, faculty, and staff to get vaccinated by the start of the semester.”

With hundreds of campuses across the country introducing their own mandates, a black market for fake vaccine cards has sprouted up. But so far, no major protests. 

Obviously that’s not the case everywhere.

In what might be the most depressing article of the week (yes, it’s only Tuesday, but I’m an optimist), Southern California News Group reporter Beau Yarbrough interviewed people protesting against the state’s vaccine mandate for healthcare workers outside the Riverside Community Hospital. One of the protest’s organizers claimed to be an ICU nurse.

2. No relief

Image via iStock

Back in July, Gov. Newsom was all but begging desperate Californians to apply for rent relief. Since then tens of thousands have. 

But most are still waiting

The state had $5.2 billion in aid from the federal government to help cash-strapped renters stay in their homes. But in a pattern seen across the country, that money hasn’t been getting out the door

What’s the hold up? Consider the laundry list of problems that have regularly beset the state’s pandemic response programs: Faulty websites, confusing application process, language barriers, overwhelmed bureaucracies and people simply not knowing that help is available.

Cities that have opted to run their own programs haven’t fared much better.

In April, the city of Los Angeles was swamped with requests for aid, blew through its allotment and stopped taking applications. It’s not clear when more cash will arrive so tenant advocacy groups are sounding the alarm and urging the city to open a new waitlist, CalMatters Nigel Duara reports.

For the time being, Californians are legally protected from eviction — except for those who aren’t. But that moratorium ends after Sept. 30.

That can’t come soon enough for some. Last week, a group representing the state’s landlords sued the state over the eviction ban. And Monday, developer Geoff Palmer (a major donor to the recall campaign) took the city of Los Angeles to court over its local eviction protections, asking for $100 million in damages.

Meanwhile, the Legislature is stuck on major housing bills. In the new episode of “Gimme Shelter,” co-host Manuela Tobias of CalMatters talks to a former policy aide about why it’s so difficult. 

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CalMatters commentary

CalMatters columnist Dan Walters: Single-payer health care is a virtually impossible goal. Newsom clearly understands that, even if he won’t say it out loud. 

Democrats’ only hope: With future COVID restrictions coming and no viable Democrats on the replacement ballot, the governor’s supporters need to rally behind a write-in candidate, writes Ralph E. Shaffer is professor emeritus of history at Cal Poly Pomona.

Reader feedback: Parents know what’s best for their children, not unions, writes Lance Izumi of the Pacific Research Institute.

Other things worth your time

Potential challenger Rep. Ro Khanna endorses Sen. Alex Padilla // San Francisco Chronicle

Behind the gamble: Newsom wants voters to sit out question 2 on the recall ballot // Los Angeles Times

Prison guard union vows to fight vaccine mandate with “all the tools at its disposal” // Sacramento Bee

Attorney General charges former cop in fatal shooting at Costco // KTLA

Pentagon will require all service members to be vaccinated // Associated Press

How Venice Beach became a microcosm of California’s homelessness crisis // Bloomberg CityLab

Newsom approves parole for murder who buried developmentally disabled man alive // Fresno Bee

Drought-stricken Californians, here’s how to cut you water use // Los Angeles Times

See you tomorrow.

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Ben covers housing policy and previously covered California politics and elections. Prior to these roles at CalMatters, he was a contributing writer for CalMatters reporting on the state's economy and...