Thursday, February 13, 2014

Move Along, Nothing To See

(Cartoon by Tom Toles, published 2/10/14 in the Washington Post.  Click on image to enlarge.)

We've gotten a little rain here in Southern California over the past week.  More importantly, Northern California got more rain and even some snow in the Sierras.  Of course, we didn't get nearly enough to take us out of drought conditions, and it is doubtful we will any time soon.

Michael Hiltzig had an interesting column in Sunday's L.A. Times which addresses the various issues presented by our climate.

Last week a clutch of Republican members of Congress from California agricultural counties arranged (with the connivance of House Speaker John Boehner) to pass a bill overriding mandates to keep water flowing in the state's rivers in favor of increasing supplies to farmers. They sounded the tired old cry about "putting families over fish," as though there aren't families in California dependent on healthy fisheries, too, and as though the water transfer in question would relieve what is shaping up as a record drought year.

The measure is opposed by Gov. Jerry Brown, state water officials and Democrats in both houses of Congress. It's nothing but a sop to credulous farm voters in the districts of Reps. David Valadao, Kevin McCarthy and Devin Nunes, its sponsors. It doesn't create a single drop of water, despite ridiculous claims that it will "solve California's water crisis" (Nunes), and abrogates jealously guarded states' rights over water allocations to boot.

Yet while this posturing was going on in Washington, the drought in California was growing worse and solutions more elusive. Even if it's relieved by the wet spell we've seen in recent days continuing through the rest of the wet season, it's a harbinger of more extremes to come, thanks to climate change. 

The most important factor in meeting the crisis is a recognition that California has made some bad choices in the past that would not be made today, knowing what we know about the likely trajectory of statewide water supply. We would plant fewer permanent crops like nut trees, and make fewer commitments of firm water to housing project developers.

Some of these decisions will have to be undone in the near term, some will be undone by the implacable economics of residential development and agriculture, and some we will have to live with for decades more. Fatuous political posturing to give some groups of users priority over others is a waste of time, and one thing we have less of every dry day is time. [Emphasis added]

I hate to say this, but this is one time I think Hiltzig's pessimism is well taken.  Not only are there no easy answers, at this point there appears to be no answers at all.  We are simply going to have to live with extreme conservation measures, backed by stiff sanctions, higher food prices as there is less water for the agricultural regions of the state, and more unemployment because fewer farm workers will have jobs.

About all we can reasonably do is issue fewer development permits and plant fewer water-using plants such as grass and flowers in those homes currently here.

We don't have such a bright future here, and that not-so-bright future extends to more than just California.

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Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

The Future's Uncertain, And The End Is Always Near

- The Doors

12:25 PM  

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