Led by climate change skeptic ExxonMobil, a collection of oil, gas, and other energy companies has pledged at least $175 million over 10 years to Stanford University to create a Global Climate and Energy Project. One goal of the project will be to help develop renewable energy technologies. Critics say the gift amounts to small change for the companies and is an attempt to shield them from criticism for spewing out so many greenhouse gas emissions each year. Meanwhile, the results of a climate change study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy are in — and they don’t look good. The study, which examined the effects of global warming on water availability in the West, projected significant reductions in the flow and levels of the Colorado, Sacramento, and Columbia rivers in the next 25 to 50 years. Snowpack in the Pacific Northwest’s Cascade Mountains could plummet by more than half. One of the scientists, Tim Barnett of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said, “You’d like there to be some good news in there somewhere, but unfortunately there is not.”