California’s snowpack at just 6 percent of normal


Good thing climate change is all hooey, or this would be really worrying…

Yea, Fox News told me that this is all just alarmist talk and the 40 billion dollar a year agriculture economy in CA will be fine if the environmentalists will just let the market handle it. Oh, and USA, USA!

Around here, we don’t take the snow tires off until May. So far this winter, M Moncton’s gotten 477.90 cm of snow (188 inches). And there’s a ‘Special weather statement’ for Moncton and Southeast New Brunswick - Significant (15cm) snowfall possible on Saturday along with freezing rain.

I think I know where your snowpack’s gone, eh.

I’m in no way a climate change skeptic, but there’s lots of historical evidence that the last 200 or so years in California have been uncharacteristically wet, and that these sorts of droughts are probably actually much closer to the post-Ice Age average.

Look on the bright side, they’ll have plenty of gasoline to bring in water by truck!

I listened to a long NPR piece on water conservation, and it infuriated me because it focused entirely on residential use, which is a fraction of agricultural. Until they unravel the system of contracts and entitlements for practically free water to grow thirsty crops in a desert, they’re screwed. The distribution system is sinfully lossy and wasteful, and they have ignored much of the water saving technology developed by Israel. Why bother? They basically had free water. But to talk about desalination plants while farms still spray water into the dry desert air is insane.

As for the agricultural economy, the cheap water has enabled CA to produce crops cheaper than places with plenty of water but a shorter growing season and/or less days of sun. If it had to contract there’s plenty of farmland east of the Mississippi going fallow because they were undermined by cheaper crops from CA. But one thing our political parties agree on is subsidizing farmers, even the supposed Libertarians and Conservatives.

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I don’t know enough about water use to have an informed opinion about the efficacy or fairness of restricting use. Regardless, it doesn’t seem like people out west are cutting back much. I always assumed we subsidized farmers to ensure that we had the land and means to feed ourselves if things ever went terribly wrong, but I never looked into it much.

I’m not sure that investing in the rest of our breadbasket is wise. A few years ago I remember driving through the middle–you know, that part between Pennsylvania and California–and seeing farmers watering their cows. Their cows. Apparently the poor beasts were just dropping dead in the heat and parched landscape. The image is seared into my brain. Here’s a recent drought map of the US. Pretty grim stuff, and the middle doesn’t look too promising. My farming experience is non-existent, but east of the Mississippi doesn’t look all that arable, if I’m reading this right. We’re facing a multifaceted, complex problem. Thank God we have serious people in positions of leadership to shepherd us through.

What I will say about Cali that can’t be said about a lot of those middle states is that California pays its way. The graphic is old data, but I don’t think things have changed that much. For a long time the people of California have been bankrolling a lot of these red states in the middle, and east of the Mississippi, while those folks act against their interests and elect leaders based on red-meat social issues. To coin a phrase, you reap what you sow.

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