Class Warfare Blog

July 5, 2016

California’s Drought Solved!

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down their reserves of fresh water to the extent that the ground level is sinking because so much water is being withdrawn from underground aquifers.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?

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10 Comments »

  1. Or our other major political party, while mouthing belief and concern for the ‘problem’ … completely in bed with the naked corporate interests that perpetuate the problem … begging the question of which approach is worse: denial or open-eyed greed.

    Comment by Zachary — July 5, 2016 @ 8:35 am | Reply

    • Can’t argue with that. At least one party is trying to screw us subtly.

      On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 8:36 AM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 5, 2016 @ 8:39 am | Reply

      • Not sure being butt-f—-d by the self proclaimed good guys can be subtle …

        Comment by Zachary — July 5, 2016 @ 9:13 am | Reply

  2. … even if it were politically feasible

    Even it were geographically and/or economically feasible, it most likely would never be politically feasible. At least on one side of the aisle.

    Comment by Nan — July 5, 2016 @ 12:09 pm | Reply

    • I think it would depend on how much the water is sold for and whose pockets get lined with that money.

      ;o)

      On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 12:09 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 5, 2016 @ 12:43 pm | Reply

  3. Chaos, yes.

    Comment by john zande — July 5, 2016 @ 12:55 pm | Reply

    • And with the weather come changes in insect populations, often bearing surprises (Africanized bees, mosquitoes with new viri, etc.). We haven’t even seen the whole tip of the iceberg yet, if one is allowed to mangle a perfectly good metaphor.

      On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 12:55 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 5, 2016 @ 1:10 pm | Reply

      • To true. Imagine the carnage when the tropical diseases reach southern Europe, for example.

        Comment by john zande — July 5, 2016 @ 2:04 pm | Reply

  4. It is physically possible: one pipeline with a diameter of 12 meters pumping water at 12 meters per second will carry about 40 million acre-feet of water in a year.
    It could’ve been economically feasible – using the estimates of how much it would cost to build Trump’s border wall times the factor of 5, such pipeline could cost about 50-100 billion, but at the price of water I’m paying in the water-rich Northeast, the pipeline could carry 10-30 billions worth of water and may actually pay for itself in a few years. However, it seems California water prices may be about a third of ours, so even if a pipeline is built, the pipeline water price could be high enough that the farmers and towns may find it much cheaper to continue pumping whatever groundwater they have left – which means that they will ask for the pipeline when it’s already too late.

    Comment by List of X — July 5, 2016 @ 1:23 pm | Reply

    • Hint: I wasn’t really suggesting it as a viable alternative. I, rather prefer us to live in harmony with the local ecology. If you live in a desert, don’t build frickin’ golf courses! Just a suggestion.

      On Tue, Jul 5, 2016 at 1:23 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 5, 2016 @ 1:27 pm | Reply


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