Fear and Loathing For California

http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2009-02/44863794.jpgGuest post by Steven Goddard

On the same day when President Obama and Prime Minister Brown separately warned of imminent economic catastrophe, the new US Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu issued a different catastrophe warning.   The LA Times quoted him saying “I don’t think the American public has gripped in its gut what could happen,” he said. “We’re looking at a scenario where there’s no more agriculture in California.” And, he added, “I don’t actually see how they can keep their cities going” either.

This is a terrifying warning of drought, coming from a cabinet level official whom the LA Times describes as “not a climate scientist.”  And perhaps a little surprising, since it was only two winters ago when the “world’s leading climate scientist” Dr. James Hansen, forecast a “Super El Niño” with severe flooding for California.  Dr. Hansen has also warned of a return to wet El Niño conditions during the current year or so.

One of the commonly made claims from the AGW camp is that global warming is causing more El Niño events. Roger Pielke Sr. just did a web log on this topic.

El Niño Impacts: Weaker In The Past, Stronger In The Future?

“What about the future of El Niño? According to NCAR senior scientist Kevin Trenberth, ENSO’s impacts may be enhanced by human-produced climate change. El Niños have been unusually frequent since the mid- 1970s.

El Niño is famous for bringing copious amounts of rain and snow to California.  I have spent several El Niño winters in the Bay Area where Dr. Chu lives, including the big one in 1998 when the rain was nearly continuous for months.  Living Redwood trees were sliding across Highway 17 in the Santa Cruz mountains.  I remember a wonderful weekend in LA in February, 2005 during their second wettest winter on record when they received six inches of rain in three days.  It didn’t stop pouring for five seconds the entire weekend.  According to NOAA:

(LA 2005) had its 2nd wettest rainfall season since records began in 1877 and the wettest season in 121 years. Over 37 inches of rain (37.25) fell downtown, just failing to reach the record 38.18 inches set during the 1883-1884 rainfall season. Average wet season rainfall for LA is 15.14 inches, making the 2004-2005 season 246% wetter than the 1971-2000 normal.

Snowfall in the Sierras is also normally high during El Niño years.  Below is a graph of Lake Tahoe snowfall from 1918-2008 – official data taken from here. Not much of a trend, except to note that the Dust Bowl in the 1930s was dry, as Steinbeck and the Okies observed.  

From: this spreadsheet El Niño years bring lots of water to the cities, farms and reservoirs, and allow for periods of high agricultural productivity.  So I am not sure what it is that we are supposed to be terrified of – famously dry La Niña years in California, or famously wet El Niño years caused by “global warming?”  The official horror story morphs so fast, it is often difficult to keep up.  Reading Steinbeck, one might get the impression that dry periods are part of the normal climate cycle in California, rather than a recent invention caused by the burning of fossil fuels.  President Roosevelt said at the time – “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.“Heavy rain and snow is forecast for California today.

Perhaps we now have the “Chu Effect” working in concert with the Gore Effect?

http://www.weatherstreet.com/data/SPC_024.jpg

From weatherstreet.com

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Ya gotta hand it to California governmental bodies. Knowing for years that the lakes are dry or drying up, knowing that the Sierra snowpack is less than normal, knowing that the Colorado River flow is much less than years past, knowing that Lake Mead and Lake Powell are way below the full mark, these governments block construction of desalination plants at every turn.
One (count em, ONE) has been approved recently (late in 2008), in Carlsbad near San Diego. It will not produce fresh water until 2011, per the company’s website.
Another one sits idle, mothballed, in Santa Barbara.
A few more are in various stages of environmental review.
People get cranky when they get thirsty. There is a reason wars were fought over water in the Wild West.
Meanwhile, farms are not planting this year. No water, so why bother?
California’s state water page may be found here.
There is a spiffy section on Climate Change, and another on Drought.
Roger E. Sowell
Marina del Rey, California (where it is indeed raining tonight)

J.Hansford.

Cooling is now Global warming…. It would seem ‘eh?
Is there no argument that can’t be won by a Molecule of carbon dioxide? : (

David Corcoran

off topic, but has anybody seen this? Snow kills 6 Moroccan children:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/7872831.stm

Aussie John

So what caused the 1883-1884 wettest ever recorded rainfall season?

Bob D

It’s actually a very clever policy – announce separate contradicting prophecies at different times, by different people. When later it either gets dry or floods, the masses will only remember that there was a prediction covering this event.

Graeme Rodaughan

Somewhat OT as reported on ICECAP and linked to below http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/02/save_the_children_from_global.html
Is it possible to go for a “AGW is not science, is religeon, and should not be taught in classrooms” and bring it too a court of law where it would actually have to prove it was in fact science?

redneck

Perhaps the reason Dr Chu and Dr Hansen can’t keep there stories straight is because they have been dipping into the ether. As Dr Hunter S. Thompson wrote in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: “There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible and depraved than a man in the depths of an ether binge.”

US Energy Secretary Dr. Steven Chu appears to be simply re-cycling an identical story (with appropriate name changes) about our western state which one of Australia’s infamous climate criers issued a couple of years ago.
I know the economy is bad over there in the US; but surely you could spring a dollar or two hiring creative writers with original scripts?

HasItBeen4YearsYet?

Steven Chu.
He’s the guy that told people to paint their roofs white to save energy,…..
http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/12/steven-chu-vs-sane-homeowner.html
…despite the fact that more energy is consumed in the winter to heat than in Summer to cool,…
http://www.carboncommentary.com/2008/02/20/76
…and so what might be saved in the Summer would be lost several fold over in the Winter.
In fact, that idea is so idiotic and poorly thought out that I wonder if what he won his Nobel prize for was really his own idea, or if he just had some really bright grad students who’s ideas he, eh, borrowed? (Also, in some of the tapes I’ve seen him in, he look like he’s plastered, slurring his words and not really making a lot of sense. It makes me wonder how much further he could run his car if he put his corn into it’s tank instead of his.)

Denis Hopkins

Have these people no sense of history? Is everything caused by human activity? How arrogant is it to assume that?
Humans do impact on the world in various ways… Passenger pigeon etc. But we have reached a point where anything and everything seems to be attributed to human activity!
The more this goes on the less the public will believe any of it.

Robert Bateman

He has a severe case of Hockey Stick Fever.
With records only going back to 1877 (the man is also NOT very resourceful)
officially, he’s in a poor position to be yo-yoing the El La Ninao pom poms.
The story of the 49’ers and the weather patterns that follow, along the meticulous snow & rain records kept by a very prominent 1st reservoir in California history (still standing folks) that fed the No. Blumefield Ditch and all the other hydraulic mining co’s of the era escapes poor Chu.
The man needs to do his homework before opening his yap about my State.
There was a very long dry spell in Calif, but it’s clearly off Chu’s radar, and it does NOT fit any patterns seen currently.

Robert Bateman

Maybe if Tweedlee Gore and Tweedlee Chu keep running thier mouths we’ll get enough rain to fill the Reservoirs in the No. State and restore the Glaciers that the Modern Maximum has melted.

HasItBeen4YearsYet?

UPDATE…
One tape where he appears a bit snookered..

You don’t suppose that’s why he thinks 3degC is equivalent to 11degF? (it’s 5.4degF) And the IPCC has backed down considerably on it’s claim of a 3degC change in average global temperature, whatever that is.

Ed Zuiderwijk

Didn’t the Governor of California two years ago declare an emergency in the grape growing regions because of snow and frost damaging the vines?
The thing with burocrats pontificating about the climate is that, because they generally don’t have a clue about scientific matters, they just repeat what they are being told. They clearly need better advisors.
I wish these people stopped insulting my intelligence ….

Rhys Jaggar

1. I think Dr Chu will find that increasing frequencies of El Ninos is associated with the warm phase of the PDO, which we have just exited from, hence the smart bets now would be on 30 years of more La Ninas.
2. There is therefore indeed the possibility of droughts ahead in California, due to La Ninas, not El Ninos. However, as this has happened before and humankind survived in California, perhaps they will do so again?
3. One wonders whether Dr Chu is angling for a job at Kleiner Perkin Caufield and Byers in a couple of years, who are no doubt delighted that he is talking up the need for new clean tech companies and products in their region?
4. Perhaps the answer is a series of transitory canals for water shovelling around the country? After all, with any weather, it seems to chuck it down somewhere. Washington State might have too much in the years ahead and Tennessee can ship it to Florida, perhaps?

Question for Chu… I was wondering where the science is that projects such a statement, and exactly which scenario this is? What are the physical mechanisms behind such an effect and what sort of driver level and feedback is present to produce such an effect? How long will the effect last? Hmmm?
I want a job where I could just make stuff up and get paid for it. I’m creative!
If it gets too cold in California instead, will it be known as the “Ha-Chu” effect?

Robert Bateman

Every day in California is a State of Emergency.
The light bulbs at the top are all screwed in backwards.
Can we borrow Dave Archibald for a few years to come over here and straighten these quarks out?

Rob R

Bob D,
In option trading terms I think the tactic is defined as a straddle.

Mike McMillan

HasItBeen4YearsYet? (00:24:39) :
UPDATE…
One tape where he appears a bit snookered.. . . .
You don’t suppose that’s why he thinks 3degC is equivalent to 11degF? (it’s 5.4degF)

I suggest you recalculate that. Dr Chu has a PhD, after all.
But seriously,
HasItBeen4YearsYet? (00:10:42) :
Steven Chu.
He’s the guy that told people to paint their roofs white to save energy, despite the fact that more energy is consumed in the winter to heat than in summer to cool . . . and so what might be saved in the Summer would be lost several fold over in the Winter.

Actually, Dr Chu has a point. If you don’t mind ruining those expensive hi-relief 40 yr shingles, painting them white will save energy. Wintertime insolation is much less than summertime, and lasts less than half the day, that is, the roof will spend much less time reflecting/absorbing in the light than it will radiating IR in darkness. The white paint will radiate less than a darker roof.
And I understand that whitewash does an even better job than latex.

John Philip

And perhaps a little surprising, since it was only two winters ago when the “world’s leading climate scientist” Dr. James Hansen, forecast a “Super El Niño”
Correction: That prediction only appeared in a draft document, and Hansen removed it from the final report actually released to the public.
I am sure you would not wish to perpetuate a falsehood just because it reflects badly on Dr Hansen.

Brooklyn Red Leg

Gah! This is like some mass form of cognitive dissonance. Does anyone think for a moment that he believes this screed?

Since it was mentioned…. I follow the data for Lake Powell and check it on a regular basis.
http://graphs.water-data.com/lakepowell/
http://snowpack.water-data.com/uppercolorado/index.php
The also have a searchable data base.
http://lakepowell.water-data.com/index2.php
Last year the lakes gained quite a bit…. then the decision was made to do a massive discharge (both Powell and Mead). It seems some fish downstream wanted to wash their teeth real well or something.

Richard Heg

It could be worse you could live in Washington:
“Antarctic bulge could flood Washington DC ”
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16545-antarctic-bulge-could-flood-washington-dc.html

Whilst in the dry continent of Australia: So much water is spilling out of the Burdekin Falls dam in north Queensland that it would fill Sydney Harbour every five hours and there are fears more rain could cause widespread flooding in the region.
Queensland’s Natural Resources and Water Minister, Craig Wallace, says the Burdekin could end up under water.

Weatherzone: Massive dam overflow threatens further N Qld flooding

B Kerr

Aussie John (23:50:53) :
So what caused the 1883-1884 wettest ever recorded rainfall season?
I do not know what dates constitute the 1883-1884 rainfall season.
But Krakatoa erupted August 26–27, 1883.
Just a thought.

bobby b

“So what caused the 1883-1884 wettest ever recorded rainfall season?”
– – – – –
The high amount of precipitation that was recorded that year.

Oldjim

I don’t know what you are worried about – it looks like the East Coast is going to be completely flooded due to a water bulge http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16545-antarctic-bulge-could-flood-washington-dc.html?DCMP=OTC-rss&nsref=online-news

mikiwud

[post deleted]
mikiwud, I don’t think you intentionally meant to be racist, but I have no choice except to interpret your post that way and I’m sorry, it is not acceptable behavior for this blog. Think about what you wrote.
~ charles the moderator going to bed on the west coast.

Lance

(sarc)Hooray for whitewashing the planet, he’s a freaking genius , and we should out law any kind of heat absorption.
First matter of business in the new world, the sun must go, we’re heating double the warmth and remember it’s for the children. (sarc/)
Keep saying that to yourselves, as you make our kids play for your retirement in wasteful big $$$ green energy investments over a non existant pollution scam.
Yeah, my kids, so bring it on, the population with only take so much BS. :i

Lance

” Well only take so much BS”
Sorry 🙂

HasItBeen4YearsYet? (00:10:42) :
Steven Chu.
He’s the guy that told people to paint their roofs white to save energy,…..
http://motls.blogspot.com/2008/12/steven-chu-vs-sane-homeowner.html
…despite the fact that more energy is consumed in the winter to heat than in Summer to cool,…
http://www.carboncommentary.com/2008/02/20/76
…and so what might be saved in the Summer would be lost several fold over in the Winter.

Sorry HasItBeen4YearsYet, but your physics is wrong. White reduces both emission and absorption of radiation, black increases both. So a white house will absorb less energy from the hotter outside in summer, and reduce radiation from the hotter inside in winter. It is perfectly sensible advice.

E.M.Smith

THE problem in California is that we build as many houses as we can within the available water supply in the best, wettest, years then wonder why there is a water ‘shortage’ due to ‘drought’ the other 80%+ of the time…
Oh Well…
BTW, the comment about Cities just shows he can’t do math. About 5% of all the water in California goes to cities. The rest goes to farms, washing trout teeth, whatever. You can run the cities at full water in the worst drought around and not notice it. Similarly, we can stop all water use in every city, send everyone to New Orleans, and it would not make any difference worth mention to the farmers of the state.
The whole “don’t flush for #1” et. al. is just ginned up for political reasons. For ‘sharing’ and ‘creating awareness’…
Of course, the thing that really frosts my shorts is the point made earlier. We could have all the water anyone could ever need at about the present rate for city water, technically… if only you could get a desalinization plant completed… Plenty planned and some started. Then the protests, red tape, et. al. begin…
Protests? Who would protest? Well, stop the water and you stop the housing, industry, people, etc… It is not accidental that water and oil are under attack.
(Shades of Dr. Strangelove! They are attacking our Precious Fluids!)

They don’t do themselves any favors using scare tactics like that.
The public are not buying it as you can see at this news poll.
http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/

Jack Simmons

Looks like about 1 out of 4 are falling for the hysteria.
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/issues2/articles/23_fear_global_warming_will_end_world_soon

Nearly one-out-of-four voters (23%) say it is at least somewhat likely that global warming will destroy human civilization within the next century. Five percent (5%) say it’s very likely.
A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 66% say it’s not likely that civilization will be destroyed by the year 2100. That includes 27% who say it is not at all likely.

We have water, America:
Dam may go underwater…

It should also be kept in mind that since the last California drought in the 1980’s, the state’s population has grown ~50%. That means 50% more people competing for a relatively static and unpredictable water supply. Unfortunately, Cali’s state government seems more concerned with outlawing plastic shopping bags than planning for the future.
But do not be alarmed, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has formulated a plan, which he explains in detail here: click

Rigel

I view California in a very poor light. They spend there citizens money on vast, pointless and wasteful ways. Yet on things that matter, they block private enterprise and seem to expect to be subsidized by other states – examples oil, water, electricity – basic things. California is socialist and anti-capitalist.
I hate to seem harsh, but frankly, I would not shed too many tears if California dried up and blew away, or fell into the sea or simply left the United States. California does significantly more harm to the US than the benefits it provides.
California and it’s citizens are completely expendable to the health and well being of the United States, in fact, it would be desirable for it to go away.

Graeme Rodaughan

Suprisingly CSIRO and the MSM in Australia have just blamed “Drought” on Indian Ocean Currents.
Not a CO2 molecule in sight.
http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25014927-11949,00.html
Also check out the vote on ABC Radio website WebPoll…
http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/
Somehow the option “Global Warming is a Myth” was included? – and it’s in front???

TJA

There is a reason that no great civilization ever arose in North America. It’s not because the Indians couldn’t do it, there were a few abortive attempts. It is because the climate lacks the required long term stability.
The US of A will eventually discover this. It will be blamed on GW.

MarkW

“I know the economy is bad over there in the US; but surely you could spring a dollar or two hiring creative writers with original scripts?”
—————–
I hear that there are a lot of out of work Hollywood writers. They are used to making things up, and making it sound good.

MarkW

“…despite the fact that more energy is consumed in the winter to heat than in Summer to cool,…”
In the summer, the highest energy consumption comes when the sun is highest in the sky.
In the winter, the highest energy consumption occurs when the sun isn’t shinning at all.
In addition, the sun doesn’t shine much in the winter for much of the US.
On top of that, for much of the country, roofs are covered by snow for a significant fraction of the winter, so it doesn’t matter what color you paint it.

Both Roger Sewell and I independently tackled the California water situation a few days ago.
My main point – we don’t have to wait for fifty or a hundred years for the water crisis…it’s already here!. In a nut shell, the state has not expanded its water infrastructure or storage capabilities since the 1950’s, due in part to resistance from the very powerful environmental lobby. We have overexerted our use of natural aquifers and, here in the San Joaquin Valley, an area roughly the size of Tennessee, the wells tapping into them are drying up. Because conservation has been the catch all / be all solution to every problem in the state, we have not built new dams or other water storage facilities to meet the demands of a population that has increased five fold since the fifties. Anyway, Here is the blog post I wrote.
PS. Google “flex alert” and learn it well. For some reason, other states admire what California gas done with its energy policy, which mirrors their water policy. Conserve to the point of near starvation during high demand. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for conservation, but that can only get you so far.

old construction worker

E.M.Smith (02:39:56)
‘Of course, the thing that really frosts my shorts is the point made earlier. We could have all the water anyone could ever need at about the present rate for city water, technically… if only you could get a desalinization plant completed… Plenty planned and some started. Then the protests, red tape, et. al. begin… ‘
You left out lawsuits.
And people wonder why business is moving out of California and the U.S..

California does significantly more harm to the US than the benefits it provides.
I guess you like high food and produce prices, as nearly 25 % of the U.S. farm output is from California. The place is not the problem here, it’s the people in power.

Steven Goddard

There is no question that the population centers of California face several serious threats, including their water supply. Obsessing about CO2 is an unfortunate distraction that diverts attention away from any intelligent remedial actions.
An interesting story from the LA Times in 2005
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-earthquake08sep08,1,2126004.story?coll=la-util-news-local
U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Lucy Jones remembers attending an emergency training session in August 2001 with the Federal Emergency Management Agency that discussed the three most likely catastrophes to strike the United States.
First on the list was a terrorist attack in New York. Second was a super-strength hurricane hitting New Orleans. Third was a major earthquake on the San Andreas fault.

JP

Much of California is a desert not fit for rattlesnakes. Thanks to the ingenuity of Man, some 20 million people live in a very arid warm place. We would not be having this conversation if California had the population of Iowa. Water is the main resource for any civilization. That is why it is not temperature but precipitation we should be worried about. Desalination plants appear to be the only recourse for California. A long period of La Ninas spell nothing but trouble for the Desert Southwest.
El Ninos usually don’t spell drought for California, as unusually strong Pacific storms result in abundent winter time rains storms, as well as high level snows.

STAFFAN LINDSTROEM

Graeme Rodaughan… Not only just in front…at present some 91 % think
GW is a myth…Question was : Is the heat wave in Australia caused by GW?
No and yes each 4,5 % approx. … Is it a UCSPA??? [United Coordinated Sceptic
Poll Attack] … Other weather and climate-related polls:
…At what point should sporting events be called off due to heat
39C 65%
41C 21,7%
44C or above (Aussies are tough, aren’t they??) 13,4%
and lastly:
Obama’s greatest challenge?
Economy: 57,7%
Rebuilding US international status 22,0%
Climate change 8,1%
And this people voted for[?] Rudd and Company…
or not so many real Australians care for ABC AU net polls??

BTW. Water has always been a hot topic in California – Water Wars
I’m not sure where this 95 % farm use vs. 5 % residential figure came from. I suspect the usage gap is not nearly that wide. This map shows water usage in California divided by county, and includes swimming pools, tap water and agricultural inputs. The counties with higher water consumption average at about 280 to 300 gallons per day, while those counties that use the least average 150 to 180 GPD.

Steve Fox

‘HasItBeen4YearsYet? (00:10:42) :
Steven Chu.
He’s the guy that told people to paint their roofs white to save energy,…..’
That’s just in the spring. In the fall, you paint the roof black. Then in the spring you paint it white. Then in the fall, you paint it black again. C’mon guys, you’re just not thinking GREEN…
er… black. er…white.
Oh heck.

hunter

This is a cheap and sleazy diversion. California, lock stepped with the AGW fear mantra, is bankrupt. They cannot pay tax refunds owed to the workers of California. California employees are getting sent home with no pay.
Their parks are closing.
But, by golly, they are installing gigawatts of tax payer funded solar panels, at only severalX the cost of real power plants.
AGW is doing to our formerly greatest state what AGW did to the food markets last year: causing havoc and suffering.
And AGW hype is well on the way to destroying NASA and man in space, as well.
AGW is not like believing in UFO’s UFO belief is stupid but basically harmless. AGW’s dark side is that its promoters demand, and are getting, control of the public square and the public purse. Chu, Lovelock, Gore, Hansen, are selling death. In California they are starting to reap just that.