The State of California uses about 42 million acre-feet of water (1 acre-foot = the volume of water of a one square mile container, 1 foot high) annually. At least it did in 2010 and this is significantly less than it used in 2005 and I suspect it is more than is being used now as my former home state is in the throes of an epic drought.
As most of you know, fresh water is created daily via the water cycle (water evaporates from everywhere, especially the oceans, leaving its salts behind, and then falls as fresh water rain, snow, etc.) with the fresh water that pools up or sinks into the ground is a tiny fraction of all of the Earth’s water. We need fresh water to survive: for drinking, agriculture, and myriad other purposes.
California is drawing down their reserves of fresh water to the extent that the ground level is sinking because so much water is being withdrawn from underground aquifers. So, where could all of California’s fresh water resupplies gone?
Eureka, I have found it!
The water level in Lake Michigan, on which shores I now live, is four feet higher than it was a year ago. I can confirm this because paths along its beaches are now under water that we walked just last year. Lake Michigan has a surface area of about 22,400 square miles, which is 14.34 million acres, so four feet of water piled on top would necessarily be 57 million acre-feet of water. This is more than California uses in a year.
We didn’t seem to have an abnormal year of precipitation but the drainage basins for the Great Lakes are huge and, well, water flows downhill.
“The key point about climate change is that we cannot predict those new patterns.”
One of the things we can expect more of as the climate changes is displacements of weather patterns: less rainfall here, more rainfall there, etc. Obviously building a pipeline from Lake Michigan to the California water system isn’t a solution, even if it were politically feasible.
The scary thing about “climate change” is we still have no way to predict “local effects,” namely the kinds of things we are desperate to know. One of the oldest archives of scientific information in the U.S. or anywhere, really, is weather data. It is also one of the largest data archives, going back centuries, it is possibly only rivaled by the amount of data we know about the stars. (No, not the Kardashians, sheesh.) We have been collecting such weather data because there were patterns that could be used to make predictions. If you think this is nonsense look up the history of the Farmer’s Almanac. The weather predictions in the Farmer’s Almanac have been used by farmers for the last two centuries to determine the kinds of crops they would plant and the timing of those plantings. While not hugely accurate, those weather predictions were better than nothing and many farmers swore by them (and occasionally at them, of course).
Climate change is a gigantic monkey wrench thrown into those data. All of the old patterns will become useless as new patterns exert themselves with, again, the key point about climate change is that we cannot predict those new patterns, certainly not the patterns during whatever transition period exists between the old and the new.
I wished they would have named climate change “weather chaos,” instead. It would have told people what to expect.
What we didn’t expect is one of our major political parties to be comprised entirely of politicians saying “Pish posh, all of that science hooey; what do climate scientists know? It is all just a plot to get more grants to do research.” WTF?