Rain Delay

Much of the East Coast groaned under the weight of yet another winter storm in early February that disrupted transportation and commerce and wore down even the hardiest snowbound souls. But in the meteorological West, the opposite dilemma continued to grind down California residents. A third winter of drought has produced the driest conditions in California since before the appearance of the first Spanish missions. In fact, California is well on its way to breaking 500-year precipitation trend lines. The severity of California’s statewide drought is compounded by drought conditions throughout much of the West and Southwest. A winter snowpack reduced by 80 percent suggests that in the spring, snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains will fail to provide adequate recharge for the diminished Colorado River, the region’s essential water source.

Conditions are so bad that California’s Catholic bishops have called for divine intervention, praying for rain and for the well-being of those most at risk from a water shortage. Voluntary water rationing is leading to brown lawns across the state, cracked riverbeds and spirals of dust in the wind. Once lush farm fields in California’s Central Valley are beginning to resemble desiccated moonscapes.

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California’s good earth produces much of the vegetables and fruits sold in supermarkets all over the United States. As growers abandon crops to the drying conditions, food prices are sure to rise. The impact will not be limited to U.S. consumers, but will be felt around the world as scarcity pushes up prices on food staples. If the drought persists into the summer, tinderbox conditions may lead to wildfires, and dust and heat themselves will become hazards to public health.

Climate researchers report that the current drought is no anomaly; in fact, the cooler and wetter conditions of the last few decades may have been the climatic oddity. Scientists have documented multiple droughts in California over the last 1,000 years. Some lasted as long as 10 or even 20 years in a row. Two mega-droughts lasted 240 and 180 years. The possibility of long-term drought conditions in the region should be a presumption of civic and agricultual policy planning. Unfortunately, as Scott Stine, a professor of geography and environmental studies at California State University, East Bay, recently told The San Jose Mercury News, “We continue to run California as if the longest drought we are ever going to encounter is about seven years.” Californians are “living in a dream world.””

The current drought offers an opportunity, albeit an unforgiving one, to reconsider the limits of human interference with natural forces. State and federal officials will be tempted to subvert nature’s ambitions with emergency interventions and water-sourcing or water-moving projects. One plan includes a 35-mile-long, $25 billion underground tunnel system. These complex and costly efforts are front-loaded with unpredictable ecological hazards of their own. Worst of all, instead of achieving their intended purpose, water sustainability, they may ultimately bring about the opposite, as industry and agricultural interests rush in to exploit any improvement in capacity.

As the November elections approach, Congress has become eager to demonstrate its attentiveness to the California crisis in a legislative bidding war aimed at offering relief to farmers. House proposals, at least, hew to the state’s tradition of water-grabbing. One idea would mean abandoning years of restoration efforts to pump unlimited amounts of water from the Sacramento-San Joaquin delta to the south, neatly pitting fish (and residents reliant on the fishing industry) against farmers and creating another in a series of stopgap measures for dealing with the regional water scarcity. But lack of rain is the underlying problem, and the days of robbing a dried-out Peter to pay off an arid Paul are coming to an end.

Instead of accelerating cycles of human intervention, the more challenging call to stewardship and sustainability demands a more patient and measured consideration of how to best build up local, sustainable water capacity. A more ecologically attuned approach would require changing habits of conservation and rain reclamation and cleaning up polluted ground basins that could “store” water in the communities where it is needed. It would require a reallocation of resources that are now diverted to water-reliant industries, reconsidering the mix of agricultural production in the region and setting limits on population and economic growth. It will mean finding a way to end a futile battle against nature that succeeds in draining fiscal reserves while briefly putting off the day of water-use reckoning.

The Catholic bishops of California asked God in prayer to “open the heavens and let His mercy rain down upon our fields and mountains.” But they also prayerfully implored that political leaders seek the common good “as we learn to care and share God’s gift of water for the good of all.”

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E.Patrick Mosman
3 years 9 months ago
Before proposing or recommending corrective action it is necessary to know the government regulations that provide water for a fish, not the fishing industry and not for farms and humans. "While rationing has been promoted in many communities, and vast areas of farmland have been removed from production, people ought to be asking: Where is the water that should have been saved for a non-rainy day? Answer: Millions of gallons were diverted from human use because of federal regulations intended to help a tiny fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the delta smelt. The smelt is listed as “threatened” under the federal Endangered Species Act, and the feds claim it benefits if less water is available to be pumped south to the San Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles and San Diego. For example, from December 2012 to February 2013 alone, more than 800,000 acre-feet of water that could have been conserved behind dams was allowed to flow to the sea. That water could have provided for the needs of 800,000 families. It could have irrigated 200,000 acres of cropland. This flushing of torrents of water to the sea is a new practice in California, threatening to make not just the current drought, but every future one, far more painful than necessary. The trigger for this destructive new policy was the feds’ 2008 “biological opinion” for the smelt, which essentially said people’s needs for water may not even be considered. Result: The state’s water “treasuries” were raided." Source: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/feb/13/schiff-federal-regulations-leave-california-high-a/#ixzz2tK6G5ea7
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
Millions of gallons for a living thing? We need that water for fracking. 600 wells fracked in a year in CA required 10,000 acre-feet of water at 5M gallons per well. Little more than 1% of what you're talking about, unless, of course, it contaminates some of the fresh water supply. Been known to happen in the fossil fuel industry. It's easy to satirize the preservation of some single species. But what eats the smelt? What eats what eats the smelt? Does the smelt eat something that would spread out of control if it was gone? The bottom line is, CA is overpopulated given its water limitations. Just like New Jersey will spend billions building structures that will fall in the next storm exacerbated by rising sea levels, CA is probably fighting an uphill battle, if melting arctic ice is driving this pattern.
E.Patrick Mosman
3 years 9 months ago
California's Drought Isn't Due To Global Warming, But Politics "California's system of aqueducts and storage tanks was designed long ago to take advantage of rain and mountain runoff from wet years and store it for use in dry years. But it's now inactive — by design. "California's forefathers built a system (of aqueducts and storage facilities) designed to withstand five years of drought," said Nunes. "We have infrastructure dating from the 1960s for transporting water, but by the 1990s the policies had changed," said Valadao. "Environmental special interests managed to dismantle the system by diverting water meant for farms to pet projects, such as saving delta smelt, a baitfish. That move forced the flushing of 3 million acre-feet of water originally slated for the Central Valley into the ocean over the past five years." "That hasn't helped the smelt any. The shutdown has been made worse by the inaction of California's Democrats, who for years have refused to build adequate storage facilities so that rainwater and snowmelt runoff can be stored for use by a growing population during dry years, another element of the earlier system. With no storage, the rain goes wasted." http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/021414-690216-failure-to-use-water-infrastructure-is-destroying-farms.htm?ref=SeeAlso So for for the sake of the smelt and the intransigence of the democrats hundreds of farms are not producing much needed foods and fruits,hundreds if not thousands of jobs are lost, major cities lack sufficient water for their citizens and many farmers fear loss of their family farms while much needed water is "flushed" into the Pacific. "Stupid is as stupid does."
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
12% of normal snowpack was not caused by local politics. Hundred year droughts have occurred in that area so that your five year storage system would be a waste of resources if that is what is occurring. These droughts have occurred in the past without AGW but will AGW exacerbate the problem? This is a question that can only be answered by scientific study. Unfortunately, Republicans only take science seriously when they like what they hear.
E.Patrick Mosman
3 years 9 months ago
Mr Kopack, I seldom respond when the other party resorts to the usual ploy of "ignore the message,attack the messenger." Assume you are in charge of the California water supply and you must decide; A-supply available water so that the smelt can enter the food chain and be eaten by bigger fish or B-supply water to a family farm of 4, with 5 permanent farm/families hands and hires 50-75 temporary help as needed to supply fruits and vegetable to the human food chain. This not not a science question or a political question a factual decision is needed.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
If the drought continues, there won't be any solution to the problem, for the smelts or the farmers. Makes me wonder if the cities of the Southwest will become the Petra's of the future, dried out ruins. At this point, I certainly wouldn't move there. As for your question, I guess I'd go for the farmer. But that's assuming I trust the WAPO as a source of balance and truth in this matter which I don't.
E.Patrick Mosman
3 years 9 months ago
As I don't trust the WAPO either, assume you mean the Washington Post, I seldom if ever use it as a reference. I imagine you would have been wondering if the Mid and South West would be the next Sahara during the 5 year drought known as the Dust Bowl years and the Okies migration to California. Hard to believe but only a few years,1927, before the drought began the same area suffered a period of torrential rain storms that resulted in one of the greatest Mississippi floods in history. Mother Nature was very active before before politicians and their lackey "scientists" discovered that CO2 was the culprit causing "climate change,nee global warming" that could be used to gain control of all ENERGY sources.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
A baseball player is accused of using steroids because he is suddenly hitting more homers. Baseball player says he hit homers before. Applying your climate change logic to the baseball player, he is innocent. Your last sentence implies a conspiracy between scientists and democratic politicians. Both parties are lackeys of the money boys and we know who has the money. Democrats, including Obama, are mostly providing lip service with a few small concessions. You parenthesize scientists and call them lackeys. I hate it when sincere hardworking people are lazily and irresponsibly disparaged.
E.Patrick Mosman
3 years 9 months ago
I am not your research assistant but I would suggest you should read a few of the following: In the year 2000 Dr. Hansen and Tom Karl had a global warming epiphany, and took it upon themselves to rewrite all of US history and produce a warming trend – which no one else had ever seen.”…. “It turned out that the millions of temperature records collected over the previous two hundred years by thousands of individuals, either had to be ignored or adjusted to show warming. Hansen and Karl determined that they could see the past, and that they were smarter and wiser than everyone else in US history. (The fact that they were also global warming activists seeking funding did not in any way bias their corruption of the data set.)” The charts showing the calculated warming can be viewed at the article. http://www.real-science.com/james-hansens-global-warming-epiphany However, in 2007 NASA/GISS temperature data showed the following: * Only 4 of the top 10 warmest years occurred in the past 10 years (1998, 1999, 2006) * Out of the top 10 warmest years half occurred before 1940 * The years 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2004 were cooler than the year 1900 * 1996, just two years before what Al Gore called the hottest year in the history of the planet, was actually cooler than average. * 1921 was the third warmest year in recorded history (behind 1934 and 1998). And then there is the more recent tampering with temperature data. http://notrickszone.com/2012/03/01/data-tamperin-giss-caught-red-handed-manipulaing-data-to-produce-arctic-climate-history-revision/ Another Hansen adjustment, this time the whole country of Iceland was secretly warmed up. http://newsweekly.com.au/article.php?id=5070 Icelandic officials rejected the "adjusted" warmer temperatures out of hand. There is much more if you spend the time and effort to search it out.
JAMES BARRY
3 years 9 months ago
Without any comment on the central causes of the debate, I was struck by one statement that seems inaccurate - perhaps I misunderstood?? "the severity of California’s statewide drought is compounded by drought conditions throughout much of the West and Southwest. A winter snowpack reduced by 80 percent suggests that in the spring, snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains will fail to provide adequate recharge for the diminished Colorado River, the region’s essential water source." But according to http://www.thorntonweather.com/snow-basins.php snowpack levels cross Colorado are above normal as of today's date. The map on that site shows that the low levels are in CA, NM, NV, but high levels in the Mountain West states of CO, UT WY, MT. In very few areas are there levels below 20% of normal.
Kevin Clarke
3 years 9 months ago

James,

Thanks, the statement appears to be in error, looking into it now, but I believe it is a conflation of the conditions in the Sierra Nevada range with Rockies. It is the California range that is experiencing record lows in snowpack.

Kevin Clarke

Anne Chapman
3 years 9 months ago
The bottom line is, CA is overpopulated given its water limitationsreconsidering the mix of agricultural production in the region and setting limits on population and economic growth. I am intrigued that both Mr. Kopacz and the America editors seem to believe that there should be limits on population in the state. So I would like to know how this should be done. Are you and/or the editors suggesting that California adopt a birth limitation policy such as that legislated in China? Or perhaps California should provide all adults with free birth control? Or maybe instead, the editors believe that all immigration from the south (and from Asia too perhaps), both legal and illegal, be stopped? Should California ban companies from hiring new employees from out of state? Perhaps population growth will hit a natural tipping point and people will voluntarily decide to live somewhere else. But, then one must also ask if the assumption is correct at all - is California really overpopulated? Japan is slightly smaller than California in area, but supports a population 3.5 times larger - and it does so without policies to limit economic growth! In fact, Japan seeks to grow its economy, and, right now, it is also trying to figure out ways to encourage more population growth as well, at least from its own citizens (it wants a higher birth rate). If the state decides to restrict water available to agriculture, that could indeed reduce immigration, since most of the labor in the fields is provided by immigrants from Mexico. And they might succeed in reducing economic growth as well - along with the tax revenues that support the functions of the government, of course. And when they redesign the agricultural sector (the one that provides most of the produce to the nation), what will they switch it to - perhaps the wine industry should be limited and some other crops encouraged - but what? Should decidious trees be discouraged and grapevines promoted since the trees use more water than grapes do (plus wine is a high revenue crop bringing lots of money into the state coffers)? Or maybe the big user of water, alfalfa, should be banned - but then what would they feed the livestock? And what will happen to the prices of the agricultural goods that someone has decided uses too much water and so production should be reduced or eliminated? IOW, what are the costs and benefits - what are the trade-offs? The editors also suggest "setting limits on economic growth". I do hope the editors will explain exactly what these limits should be, how they determine the appropriate limits, and describe how would this be accomplished. Fortunately, the storms of a week or so ago brought rainfall totalling 10" or so in the San Francisco area, and over 20" in the Sonoma/Napa areas. There has also been some rain in southern California, but not enough yet. The Sierras received a lot of snow however and so there will be ice and snow melt during the spring. The Arctic ice pack has stopped melting, at least for now, and has been growing, both in area and density, so perhaps that is not "driving" the weather conditions in California. As noted in the article, cycles of prolonged drought are nothing new in California, and the natural cycle of the climate means that both dust and wildfires are also "normal" occurrences. The important thing is to make realistic and rational plans for these regularly occuring weather patterns rather than running off in a panic to embrace the politically correct solution of the moment. Perhaps it makes more sense to limit the amount of water going to golf courses rather than limit water to agricultural crops. I have no idea of the trade-offs that are possible, but I'm sure that there are many possibilties that do not demand draconian measures to cap population or economic growth in the state.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
Meant as a reply to Anne Chapman: People don't usually depopulate an environmentally devastated area by not having children. They do so by either dying in place or migrating. If California's drought is the worst in 160 years, the question is whether it is part of the usual fluctuations, something similar to the 100 year droughts of millennia past, or something new driven by climate change. These questions can only be answered by climatologic study, not by an optical engineer like me or an economist like you. What economists like you can do, if not given to wishful thinking and ignoring of the conclusions of experts in climatology, is to figure out how transitions might be made easier, softening the impact. Of course, if the economic status quo is a god who cannot be tampered with, then we have to see what the much bigger god of physics will do to that god. As for what I would do. About CA, I don't know yet. Should the state and federal governments build dams to store water that may never come? I thought republicans didn't like federal spending except for defense, anyway. I think the government should stop subsidizing building in flood plains and hurricane-prone shorelines. That sort of thing may eventually have to be applied to CA. As for Arctic ice, the trend is downward when looking at the long time series but things fluctuate. Markets are allowed to fluctuate and exhibit trends, but apparently climatologists must show monotonic slopes everywhere to be believed.
Anne Chapman
3 years 9 months ago
Stanley, the point is that people make throw-away comments that imply that there are simplistic solutions to complex problems. The editors are suggesting capping both population growth and economic growth in California as a matter of policy! Yet they provide not a single detail as to how this would be done, and what the trade-offs, costs, and benefits would be. IOW, they are proposing radical programs to address situations that may be nothing more than normal climate patterns, changes which have been part of the earth's history for millions of years. Until more is known and understood, it is common sense to watch and wait while prudently investing in researching and developing a range of contingency plans on a rational basis. Panic leads to huge waste - look at what happened after 9/11. The govt just started throwing billions away to hastily construct "solutions" to dangers they didn't fully understand yet. Huge new bureaucracies arose overnight, duplication of effort is rampant and the intelligence agencies still operate mostly in a stovepipe mode, something the creation of the DNI and DHS were supposed to prevent. What a waste! We are throwing billions at "climate change" also - there are a whole lot of people out there (researchers, universities, govt agencies,"green" companies) etc who are getting a lot of money and it is in their self-interest to continue to promote theories that will keep the cash flowing to them. Most of the dramatic climate changes in the earth's history have not been due to human activity nor could they have been prevented by human programs. The dinosaurs disappeared long before the first human being roamed the earth. The Ice Age came without help from human activity. And the "global warming" that ended the "little ice age" actually led to a flourishing of the planet in multiple ways. But I do agree (and felt this way long before anyone coined the terms "global warming" or "climate change") that it makes little sense to continue to permit building on the floodplains of rivers that flood predictably every decade or so, or on beaches that are subject to erosion. Florida and other states have enacted strict building codes now, so wind damage there should get less as time goes on and more and more of the housing stock is replaced or upgraded to hurricane standards, although floods are still a danger. Similarly, California has strong new codes to mitigate against earthquake damage and fire hazard in newer homes and buildings. It might be reasonable to allow water rates to homeowners etc to rise "naturally" (let the market pricing mechanism work!) since the demand exceeds supply of water in the state, but reasonable manipulation of the regulatory and tax mechanisms can also be employed to discourage excessive non-essential water usage. I have no idea what California has looked into as far as the long-term goes. There is a great deal of work being done in the area of desalinization (quite a few countries interested in this obviously). Have a little faith, Stanley. The human mind is infinitely creative when it comes to solving problems. I am from California and my parents' familes were there very early by California standards (1880s - late in east coast development but early in west coast). I am very familiar with the climate of the state, have lots of old family photos showing what the land looked like a hundred and more years ago, and know that the cycle has always produced droughts, sometimes followed by fires, then often by floods, especially in the mountains. Water conservation has always been an issue in the state and it always will be. Fortunately the recent heavy rains came at a good pace and did not all run off or flood. Every year there are fires in the dry season - fortunately most are handled quickly and don't get out of control. The Santa Anas have always been part of California weather patterns and they are the biggest hazard as far as fire control goes. The "experts" in climatology are not all on the same page either, so careful planning would include the very real possibility that these changes are within the normal range and scarce economic resources (aka MONEY) should not be thrown at perceived problems willy nilly. "As for Arctic ice, the trend is downward when looking at the long time series but things fluctuate." That is the whole point - the climate does fluctuate and spending billions and billions to address short-term fluctations is not a rational use of taxpayer money. It should instead go to researching the broader issues, creating contingency plans, and not waste money on unproven assumptions about longer-term patterns. A number of those who are prominent spokesmen for the current climate change/global warming disaster scenarios are among the same people who told us just as "authoratively" in the 1970s that human activity was going to bring disaster to the earth by causing a new Ice Age that would appear by the end of the 20th century. As an economist, I am well aware of how dead wrong many economic forecasts have been and will continue to be. The world's economy is far too complex to fully capture in even the most sophisticated econometric model. These models help us understand relationships, but are notoriously bad at forecasting the future. I look at all of them with the same scepticism that I look at the current forecasts related to climate change. All of these models (econometric or climate) are useful to increase understanding, but they cannot be relied on to be "infallible". I am not sure what this discussion has to do with Republicans, by the way. You are expressing your opinion and I am expressing mine. I am not a Republican. Nor am I a Democrat.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
Anne, the climate of the past has varied widely, based on a number of parameters, but the main determinants are the level of light flux from the sun, the parameters of the Milankovic cycles (orbital eccentricity, precession of the Earth, wobble of the axis of rotation) and greenhouse gases. Extremes have happened in the past and have been related to these parameters. We know more now about why these things have happened. When I visited the Grand Canyon, the guide pointed to a red layer way down, a layer rich in iron oxide. He asked what caused this. Being the science nerd I am, I answered, oxygen. Cyanobacteria appeared around 2.8B years ago. As a byproduct of photosynthesis, they produced vast amounts of oxygen. For hundreds of millions of years, the oxygen was taken up by iron in the water, and once everything in the ocean that could be oxidized was, it made its way into the thin layer of atmosphere and turned the main greenhouse gas methane CH4 into water and CO2, a much weaker greenhouse gas. Along with the weaker sun, the earth froze from poles to equator. Water vapor by itself was not enough to maintain the temperature. What thawed the earth and saved the future of life? CO2 from vulcanism? 250m years ago, extreme vulcanism and attendant release of CO2 caused acidification of the oceans and global heating. 95% of species disappeared. This shows that a stable climate system CAN, with disturbance of atmospheric gases, go alarmingly out of whack. Now we have a new life form capable of hacking the world, expanding in numbers to 7B, and releasing CO2 into the atmosphere at remarkable rates. There is no doubt that we have reset the thermostat upwards and continue to do so. The earth WILL reach a higher temperature, though it will have superimposed on the curve the natural sloshing back of energy between the atmosphere and ocean. I find most frustrating the argument that scientists are just trying to get money. If they were, they are smart enough to find better, easier ways to do it, and make more. Frankly, I think they are there for the challenge and prestige among peers. Climatology will always be funded anyway, even if there were no such thing as AGW. Thinking of weather forecasting as short term climatology, look at how much tornado deaths have been reduced. The practical use of climatology is to reduce economic risk and save lives. In doing their work, they have determined the greatest risk factor is the change in the CO2 level. The personal slandering and libeling that they have been met with for being the bearer of bad news has been unbelievable. As I told J.R. Cosgrove, people like doctors have to make life altering decisions based on limited knowledge. A friend of mine died from pancreatic cancer in the last year. Even the MRIs and PET scans didn't reveal what the Whipple procedure did, that there was cancer intermixed with arteries they couldn't remove. He took the risk if death based on inexact knowledge. We all do this. We will never have exact knowledge about anything, but sometimes, not to act is to court disaster. As for government limitations on population and such, I think it would not be necessary if citizens had the appreciation of the actual level of risk. It is poorly covered in the media, if at all, and it is not easy to understand. Italians, Japanese and Russians have a decreasing population without Chinese-type draconian measures. The decrease in population is a good thing. But what do you do when immigrants with a high birth rate come in? I think a lot of it has to do with women's rights. Last thing, I want to apologize for laying into you last year on this subject, but I care deeply about this and I sometimes have an anger management problem that has not been helped by debating on several forums and being attacked myself. It is odd that I care since I have no offspring and can live the rest of my life very comfortably no matter what is done with CO2 or the economy. But I do care.
J Cosgrove
3 years 9 months ago
I thought republicans didn't like federal spending except for defense, anyway.
This is nonsense. Even Hayek, an economist who argued against government solutions for most things, advocated a safety net for the unfortunate provided by the government. Conservatives or classical liberals are for intelligent spending by the government not no government. The Tea Party would be ecstatic with the spending levels of the Clinton administration. Clinton said he could not see any reason for higher spending. Here is a link to a recent mini-debate on the climate. It is not about California but about the uncertainty in just what is happening with the climate and whether what we see now is a departure from what happened in the past. http://www.mrctv.org/videos/climate-depots-marc-morano-debates-bill-nye-climate-change My own personal reaction to all this is that because it has been\ politicized so much by the left, they lost all credibility in the debate. If they did not immediately try to use it for political purposes, we may have been much further along on a real consensus on what may be feasible.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
I hope you are not assuming that Clinton is some sort of hero of mine or that, if Clinton did it or said it, I have to accept it as beneficial to the vast majority if the American people. Clinton signed off on the Shafta agreements. Clinton cooperated in the demise of Glass-Steagal and is as responsible as anyone for 2007. I see him as one of the long line of corporate-owned presidents from Reagan to Obama. I'm sure that any spending or tax breaks for the benefit of large corporations will be supported from the republican side and most of the democratic side. I really don't find the Tea Party worth my time discerning what they do or do not believe, but I thank you for the update. One of the things that gravitate me toward the left is that they consider AGW as a serious problem. I cannot take any party seriously whose members say its a hoax and those members aren't admonished by the other members. That being said, Democrats don't have an impressive recent record. I don't know what you want from the climatologists. If you want an estimate of global warming to five significant figures with a confidence level of 99.999%, or some perfect year-by-year graph of how the climate system will move to that new equilibrium point, it won't happen. But the basic boundary conditions have been established. A system that has brought our population up to 7B is being moved out of those boundaries. To me, a considerable risk has been identified, and risk mitigation measures need to be taken, and risk mitigation is best done sooner than later. I will vote for the political party that takes this problem most seriously. I consider it, along with overall environmental destruction, to be the greatest threat to this country and the world it is part of. Doctors, businessmen, everybody is forced to make decisions and take action based on incomplete knowledge without perfect certainty. If they don't, space shuttles crash.
J Cosgrove
3 years 9 months ago
You made an absurd comment. I put it in perspective and one way of doing so is to show that even the Tea Party is not against government spending. Clinton was used as a bench mark only. Comments on this blog are also addressed to other readers as well (including the authors of the articles who I assume read the comments) so they are written in that context. Relative to global warming, you are certainly welcome to express your beliefs and reasons. My education was in science though I never used it directly in any work I did. But one thing for sure there is a consensus on in science is that there is no science that is ever settled. The history of science is the story of one idea being replaced by another. I can point to a consensus among scientists in other areas that is higher than that for global warming and the science behind these consensus is often nonsense. Mainly because science in certain areas has become politicized. So I get rather skeptical of such faith that a certain state is absolutely true especially when there are people and data out there that make it unclear what is happening and a large percentage of its proponents have politicized it. So I would suggest that the editors if they really care about the truth take up the position that the politicization of global warming has got to stop. It will lead to better decisions.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
I think your playing fast and loose with the history and philosophy of science. If we were to become as agnostic as you seem to be about science, we may as well give the whole thing up and replace it with voodoo. What part of the foundation of AGW is up for grabs? Thermodynamics? Spectroscopy? Chemistry? There may be regions of reality where these things don't apply but we don't live there. Science, for the most part, grows and connects phenomena into a coherent whole. Disparate facts eventually come together to form new insights and theories and assumptions become dependable foundation. AGW would be accepted without a burp except that it requires change in lifestyle, threatens the possibility of sacrifice, threatens the need for collective action which is an ideological anathema to many, and threatens the profits of very rich people and powerful corporations, who HAVE politicized the issue. As for myself, I would rather believe the whole thing is a hoax and don't worry, be happy. But as far as I can see, the climatologists have and are doing their homework. They are real scientists doing science. The rest are ankle biters. I applaud America Magazine for bringing these issues and problems to the fore. If a hazy cannabis-like coma is preferable, there's always corporate media. One footnote. Climatologists have been studying the details of the noise on the temperature series. If we ever stabilize this AGW thing, it may improve our long term predictions for long term decisions as are being referenced here.
J Cosgrove
3 years 9 months ago
I think your playing fast and loose with the history and philosophy of science. If we were to become as agnostic as you seem to be about science, we may as well give the whole thing up and replace it with voodoo
I have read and studied both the history of science and the philosophy of science. I have taken several courses in the scientific method in graduate school. So I would not make aspersions.
Stanley Kopacz
3 years 9 months ago
What you've read or studied is apparently irrelevant. Atheists have read the Bible, apparently to little effect. The statements of your previous post, if taken seriously, negate ANY authority in science, ANY time. The round earth itself would be doubtable by your epistemological criteria. Recently, measurements at CERN indicated that neutrinos travelled faster than light. When I discussed it with some young physicists, we unanimousuly agreed that it was nearly certain that there was a flaw in the timing of the experiment. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer, before the measurements could even be reexamined, claimed this showed how the foundations of science could be shaken, and you couldn't trust greenhouse gas theory. Well, it turned out that there was a flaw in the measurement and Einsteinian relativity stood. Young physicists right based on book learning and sticking to well established theory, ideological commentator based on sloppy thinking wrong.
Bruce Snowden
3 years 9 months ago
Maybe this is so boneheaded, giving reason why no one has mentioned it, but what about desalination of sea water piped to crop raisers, as a way to help address California's mounting water supply deficits? If astronauts can technologically turn urine into drinking water, isn't their dependable technology able to turn sea water into water fit for human, animal and plant consumption?
John Arthur
3 years 9 months ago
It's not particularly boneheaded, but not terribly practical either, I'm afraid. There are very serious issues having to do with determining the best method of desalinating sea water here in California. First is where would we get the additional power necessary to remove the salt from the seawater? Our renewable sources are currently insufficient and additional electricity generated via petroleum would probably increase air pollution. Second is, how to put the salt we remove back into the ocean? The residue of the desalination process is many times saltier than the ocean it is returning to and may create some ecological dead zones. For now we need to concentrate on conservation and efficiency, but your prayers are essential, too!
Michael Barberi
3 years 9 months ago
If the editors or anyone else finds the best solution, or an excellent one, among the many solutions that might work, please send them along with an appropriate business or strategic plan to: the governor and legislators of California. In the meantime, I will also pray to God for more rain.

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