“Yeah, But It Rained Just Yesterday!…” (/denier)

At least a little, maybe enough to take the edge off, according to the California Weather Blog. I’m still wishing we could send you Left Coasters some of our overenthusiastic precipitation. Sunday morning, via a Bill McKibben tweet, the NYTimes says “Severe Drought Has U.S. West Fearing Worst”:

LOS ANGELES — The punishing drought that has swept California is now threatening the state’s drinking water supply.

With no sign of rain, 17 rural communities providing water to 40,000 people are in danger of running out within 60 to 120 days. State officials said that the number was likely to rise in the months ahead after the State Water Project, the main municipal water distribution system, announced on Friday that it did not have enough water to supplement the dwindling supplies of local agencies that provide water to an additional 25 million people. It is first time the project has turned off its spigot in its 54-year history…

This latest development has underscored the urgency of a drought that has already produced parched fields, starving livestock, and pockets of smog.

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” said B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley….

Tom Vilsack, secretary of the federal Agriculture Department, said in an interview that his agency’s ability to help farmers absorb the shock, with subsidies to buy food for cattle, had been undercut by the long deadlock in Congress over extending the farm bill, which finally seemed to be resolved last week….

The crisis is unfolding in ways expected and unexpected. Near Sacramento, the low level of streams has brought out prospectors, sifting for flecks of gold in slow-running waters. To the west, the heavy water demand of growers of medical marijuana — six gallons per plant per day during a 150-day period — is drawing down streams where salmon and other endangered fish species spawn…

So I guess the next Denier tactic will be to blame the drought on dope-smoking hippies and/or the return of Governor Moonbeam?

30 replies
  1. 1
    mclaren says:

    As I’ve been warning repeatedly on this very forum since 2005. “Wait till the water riots start in the American Southwest.” The response, predictably, involved accusation of being “off your meds” and “ranting and raving.”

    Meanwhile, here’s a (spoof) anthropology paper about that strange tribe of primitive people know as the Nacirema.

    Explains a lot.

  2. 2
    joel hanes says:

    California is suffering His displeasure because the Dems have the Gov and the Leg firmly in hand, and YHWH is a Republican. Everyone knows that.

  3. 3
    West of the Cascades says:

    So “resolving the deadlock over the Farm Bill” means Congress is appropriating money to pay to feed hungry cows, but not hungry people. Nicely played, assholes.

  4. 4
    max says:

    So I guess the next Denier tactic will be to blame the drought on dope-smoking hippies and/or the return of Governor Moonbeam?

    When a large-breasted blonde woman (with a creamy complexion and a tiny waist and a smaller brain who just lurves her a big ol’ man) wants to smell smoke to get the uh, home fires burnin’, she loves the smell of ALL-MERKIN COAL.

    WHEREAS only a whiny fat gay hippie muslim wymyn married to a dog and born in Zaire who performs abortions for a living hates hydro-carbons – but only in between bouts of drinking the blood of innocent bankers.

    [‘The choice is clear, MURKA!’]

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    But it’s been cold in Washington, D.C. and New York City! With snow! Can’t be any kind of global warming contributing to any of this. The snow proves it.

  6. 6
    meander says:

    It’s a few years old, but this piece in Orion is quite relevant this year: The Colonization of Kern County: A story of oil and water, by Jeremy Miller. Since block quote will certainly not work, everything that follows the next colon is a direct quote from the article:

    While oil has been so plentiful in Kern County that it is hard to avoid stepping in it, water has always been a far scarcer commodity. According to historian William Rintoul, in the 1890s water drawn from wells on the west side of the valley tasted like “poison.” Potable supplies were hauled in by rail from Bakersfield and sold in saloons for a nickel a glass. In the turn-of-the-century oil town of Taft—then known as Moron—a drunken man in a Chinese restaurant knocked over an oil lamp, starting a fire that rapidly swept through town. Historian Wallace Morgan noted that residents had roughly ten gallons on hand to battle the conflagration rampaging through the dry wood facades.

    Indeed, lack of water is the defining quality of the region and begs a simple question: where are the oil companies getting all of theirs?

    …And I was surprised to learn from local water authorities that a good deal of the water for steamflooding comes from the same source that supplies the region’s farms: the Central Valley and State Water Projects. These are California’s vast and highly engineered systems that pipe fresh water hundreds of miles from reservoirs high in the Sierra and the Sacramento–San Joaquin Bay Delta east of San Francisco, through the California Aqueduct, a four-hundred-plus-mile conduit that brings water from the Bay Area to the farms of the Central Valley and some 22 million residents of Southern California.

    In light of the three-year drought that has crippled the region, the fact that prodigious volumes of clean water are being used to dredge up California tar seems akin to digging ditches with antique silverware.

  7. 7
    NotMax says:

    Suppose Keystone building a pipeline for water from northern Canada is out of the question.

  8. 8
    🎂 Martin says:

    The great recession stopped a number of desalination projects from starting. San Diego is 2 years out from theirs being completed. CA should pass legislation prioritizing all water for consumer use, and let Congress get their shit in gear when the produce supply to the rest of the country falls off a cliff.

  9. 9
    jl says:

    The happy bright news I heard this morning (or was it yesterday?) on the radio news was that if we get the rainfall expected over the next 3 weeks or so, California will move from Total Disaster to mere Disaster. Wonderful.

    As I mentinoed in a thread a few days ago, parts of the Central Valley are being pumped dry, and land subsidence is a problem, and that has been a problem that has developed over several non-drought years. So, there would have to be some changes made even without a drought.

    This will be a mess. The unemployment situation in Central Valley will be dire this summer and fall.

    I cross my fingers for a Miracle March, but dare not hope for it. With global warming, this is just the start of a long trend. Apparently the models say our relief will be periodic superstorms after prolonged dry periods. Yippee!

  10. 10
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    So I guess the next Denier tactic will be to blame the drought on dope-smoking hippies and/or the return of Governor Moonbeam?

    Don’t give the cretins ideas.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: The correlation between the 30 to 40 year governor Brown cycle and recent drought cycles is striking.

    But all this physics stuff is just correlation, not causation.

  12. 12
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Yes, I guess the fears of a “snow bowl” in the Meadowlands yesterday were, thanks to Al Gore (who, by the way, is fat, unlike the svelte Chris Christie) groundless and the warm weather that means absolutely nothing in this context, whereas snow in the rest of February is solid proof that there no such thing as Global Climate Change (also, too, ignore heat wave in Alaska, thank you).

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Such a pipeline does not link the Alberta Awl Bidness with the Texass Refinin’ Bidness, therefore it’s out of the question.

    Also, too, would have to cross large mountain ranges, oh dear, oh my.

  14. 14
    trollhattan says:

    @🎂 Martin:

    Very thorny issues with the existing water contracts and such, and the fact that the federal CVP ships more water than the SWP, and the majority of the federal water goes to ag, while the SWP is primarily municipal and industrial.

    But hey, nothing like living through history in the making. Take January 2014 (please).

    The capital city broke record high temperatures on eight days and tied four records, according to the National Weather Service. Another astonishing fact: Daytime high temperatures were above normal every day.

    “We rewrote the history books,” said Brooke Bingaman, a weather service meteorologist in Sacramento. “The fact that we had so many record-breaking phenomena in one month indicates an abnormal situation.”

    January 2014 is now officially Sacramento’s third-driest month – with 0.20 inches of precipitation – since the government began keeping records in 1850. Average rainfall for January is 3.97 inches. That wasn’t surprising considering the city went without rain for 52 days, breaking the previous dry spell record in the rainy season of 44 days from 1976. Sacramento has received a measly 1.95 inches since the water year began July 1, compared with 11.31 inches for a regular season.


  15. 15
    NotMax says:

    @Villago Delenda Est

    It was a tongue-in-cheek comment, but also too, there’s this engineering thing called tunnels….

  16. 16
    trollhattan says:


    Hey, we can do that. Give us the water and we’ll lift it.


  17. 17
    NotMax says:

    California, could you please come pick up your rain?

    The skies opened up here about 30 minutes ago with a crack of thunder, and the downpour is torrential.

  18. 18
    jl says:

    @NotMax: Where are you at? I’ll FedEx some buckets.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    That are waaaaay too expensive for the cheapskate assholes who are the Koch brothers.

    A properly engineered pipeline has all sorts of things (you know, like redundant pumps and double wall construction) that cause MBA trained “efficiency” experts to blanch. Too much cutting into sacred profit for needless environmental and safety concerns. Besides, externalities are problems for the serfs, not the makers.

  20. 20
    JoyfulA says:

    @mclaren: That’s at least 45 years old, because that’s when I first read it.

  21. 21
    jc says:

    May G.Herbert W.Bush rot in hell for that idiotic ‘Moonbeam” putdown. And for sire-ing W Bush. And for the Carlisle Group. And for pardoning Weinberger. And for probably another dozen outrages against this country that we haven’t found out about yet.

  22. 22
    Splitting Image says:


    May G.Herbert W.Bush rot in hell for that idiotic ‘Moonbeam” putdown. And for sire-ing W Bush. And for the Carlisle Group. And for pardoning Weinberger. And for probably another dozen outrages against this country that we haven’t found out about yet.

    Clarence Thomas.

  23. 23
    Sherparick says:

    1. Yes, Fundamentalists & assorted other fanatics in Roman Catholic Church will say the drought is “God’s” punishment for Gay marriage, pot, etc. Although since the areas being hurt are the agricultural portions of California, some of the most conservative parts of the State and also, this view of God using weather machine to wreck misery is, as Mark Twain remarks, not a particularly nice picture of God. http://www.salon.com/2013/09/2.....hated_god/

    2. But I am not sure this particular drought can be attributed to AGW. The science that tells us we are slowly boiling the planet, also tells us California and the western U.S. have had some very long droughts as bad as this one that have lasted decades, even centuries before AGW. http://news.msn.com/in-depth/s.....-200-years. In fact, the 20th century being one of the wettest in California history indicates that the initial period of AGW made California wetter than normal.

    3. Strongest evidence most of us in middle age and even a bit y9ounger can see for AGW is the change in growing seasons, the way the plant zones the seed companies publish creep northward and upward, the advance of insect infestations from the south to north and from lowlands to highlands; and the slow rise of the ocean as glaciers and lakes and inland seas shrink. As a skier, it has been remarkable to see the glaciers of the Alps shrink the last 25 years.

  24. 24
    RSR says:

    I’m calling BS on that six gallons per plant per day for the pot growing. Something’s, pardon the pun, fishy about that number.

    That much water would likely drown a plant (almost any plant) grown in traditional media (soil, soilless mix) and perhaps a hydroponic system might require six gallons of water flow to each plant every, much of the water is being recycled continuously, not replenished on a daily basis. (They’d be throwing away large amounts of expensive plant nutrients if they did not recycle the water in such a system.)

    Didn’t someone on here post an overview of aquaponic farming? Maybe they could respond.

  25. 25
    evinfuilt says:

    @RSR: I figured someone would get to that. Out here in Colorado, most of our pot is grown hydroponically which has very very little water loss. I can’t imagine Californians not using that system, pot is pretty much the perfect plant for that growing medium. Here we’re allowed to grow 12 plants per household, and with hydroponics I doubt I’d need to add a full gallon to the system daily. Maybe every couples days.

  26. 26
    chopper says:


    CA isn’t the only place that allotted and built during a wet period. Look at the Colorado river. Yikes.

  27. 27
    kindness says:

    They can blame the pot growers but every day I commute along the canal that takes N. Cal water to S. Cal and it is full to the brim every single day. It used to vary. Not any longer.

    Most our water goes to Ag. Now I don’t mind that as we are a big Ag state I just expect them to be kind to what they receive and not blow it on dumb stuff. Like any number of crops that really should not be grown in a desert. Hay, cotton come to mind. I figure it’ll only change when they get less and they’ve all been told they won’t be getting what they were promised this year.

    It’s gonna suck, coming to terms with no water. But we have no choice and this will force us to adjust our priorities which we haven’t had to do since the last big drought in the 70’s.

  28. 28
    No One of Consequence says:

    @RSR: I am calling BS on the 6 gal per plant per day. No way. Non-traditional hydroponic where one grows in medium of perlite, vermiculite and spagnum peat moss utilizes I would say around a pint a day on average. Plumbed hydro systems operating on a continuous flow, or a ebb and flow system would likely use 2 to 4 times that. Much of the water loss through evaporation.

    A hydro system that utilizes 6 gal per plant per day has an expensive leak in it…

    Humbolt County certainly knows what they are doing, and grows a bunch, but they are not responsible for the lack of water.

    – NOoC

  29. 29
    HumboldtBlue says:

    To the west, the heavy water demand of growers of medical marijuana — six gallons per plant per day during a 150-day period — is drawing down streams where salmon and other endangered fish species spawn…

    Hahahahahahahahaha … medical marijuana grows … hahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

    The rest of the statement has some truth, but they aint growing weed for medical dispensaries. The fish are being harmed, streams are being sucked dry and with legal and illegal water diversion calling our rivers “rivers” is an insult to rivers anywhere else and some of that is due to illegal grow sites. But the water diversion for the Central Valley and the Bay Area is the biggest concern.

  30. 30
    xian says:

    @jc: Uh, Mike Royko.

    Were you thinking mayhap of “Ozone Man”?

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