The Obvious Failures of Climate Science That Mainstream Media Ignores

Guest Post by Bob Tisdale –

The National Science Foundation press release Cause of California drought linked to climate change found its way into the mainstream media, with science reporters around the globe adding their hype. That press release is based on the recently published study Swain et al. (2014) “The Extraordinary California Drought of 2013/2014: Character, Context and the Role of Climate Change”, which can be found in the Special Supplement to the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS report)Vol. 95, No. 9, September 2014, Explaining Extreme Events of 2013 From A Climate Perspective.

I’ll publish a few comments about Swain et al. (2014) in a few days. But this post is not about that paper.


As I was reading Anthony Watts excellent post about Swain et al. (2014), Claim: Cause of California drought linked to climate change – not one mention of ENSO or El Niño, a number of reoccurring thoughts replayed, thoughts that have struck me numerous times as the Western States drought unfolded last year and intensified this year.

Was California prepared for a drought?

Obviously, California was not prepared for a drought this intense, and the impacts of that lack of preparedness on California residents will grow much worse if the drought continues.

Why wasn’t California prepared for a short-term (multiyear) drought this intense?

The realistic blame should be the focus of climate science in general under the direction of the IPCC. In the opening paragraph of the IPCC’s History webpage, they state (my boldface and caps):

Today the IPCC’s role is as defined in Principles Governing IPCC Work, “…to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of HUMAN-INDUCED climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

The fact that the IPCC has focused all of their efforts on “understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change” is very important. The IPCC has never realistically tried to determine if natural factors could have caused most of the warming the Earth has experienced over the past century. For decades, they’ve worn blinders that blocked their views of everything other than the possible impacts of carbon dioxide. The role of the IPCC has always been to prepare reports that support the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions caused by the burning of fossil fuels. As a result, that’s where all of the research money goes. The decision to only study human-induced global warming is a political choice, not a scientific one. In efforts to justify agendas, politicians around the world jumped on the climate change stump and funded computer model-based studies of human-induced global warming…to the tune of billions of dollars annually.

Because of that political agenda, the latest and greatest climate models still cannot simulate the basic underlying processes that govern the naturally occurring, coupled ocean-atmosphere processes like ENSO (El Niños and La Niñas), like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation…processes that have strong influences on temperature and precipitation in west coast states. So there is no possible way climate models, as they exist today, could forecast what precipitation might be like in the future there. And that basic problem will persist until there is a redirection of climate-research funding. Yes, funding. Research follows the money.

What value do climate model-based studies provide?


The paper Pierce et al. (2013) The Key Role of Heavy Precipitation Events in Climate Model Disagreements of Future Annual Precipitation Changes in California provides an overview of why the climate models have no value when it comes to forecasts like California drought. In their abstract Pierce et al. write (my boldface and caps):

Of the 25 downscaled model projections examined here, 21 agree that precipitation frequency will DECREASE by the 2060s, with a mean reduction of 6–14 days yr−1. This reduces California’s mean annual precipitation by about 5.7%. Partly offsetting this, 16 of the 25 projections agree that daily precipitation intensity will INCREASE, which accounts for a model average 5.3% increase in annual precipitation. Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter.

[Hat tip to blogger “Jimbo” on the WUWT thread Claim: Cause of California drought linked to climate change – not one mention of ENSO or El Niño.]

So some climate models say that daily precipitation intensity will increase and others say it will decrease. In other words, the climate science community is clueless about what the future might bring for west coast precipitation.

Some might say that climatologists for the State of California and other west coast states have been hampered by climate science. It’s tough to make recommendations to state and local governments for long-term planning when the climate science community provides them with nothing to work with.

Is California prepared for a drought that lasts multiple decades or even centuries?

Anthony Watts’s post included a graph from a paleoclimatological study of West Coast drought that showed past droughts have lasted for hundreds of years. For the original graph and discussion, see Figure 10 of Cook et al. (2007) North American drought: Reconstructions, causes, and consequences. (Note: That’s not the John Cook from SkepticalScience.)

Now I hate to make you think about bad news. But if it’s happened in the past, can it happen again?

Why are mainstream media simply parroting press releases?

Climate-change news reports have become echo chambers of the press releases put out by colleges, universities and government research agencies. Individual reporters might provide a more in-depth report by asking the scientist-authors for a few extra word of wisdom.

But why aren’t the media asking the tough questions, like:

  • Why weren’t west-coast residents warned 10 or 15 years ago that a severe drought is just a weather anomaly away?
  • Why aren’t there enough desalinization plants in place to supplement rainfall deficits?
  • Why are the people of the west coast protesting for, and why are state governments funding, more wind farms and solar arrays when they need something more basic to maintain life there, water?

Seems to me we may very soon be seeing a reversal of Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, with vast flocks of California residents migrating back to the Midwest, which also is subject to periodic droughts.

Poor planning on the parts of a few—based on politically motivated, unsound science—may make for emergencies for millions.


117 thoughts on “The Obvious Failures of Climate Science That Mainstream Media Ignores

  1. AGW has clearly been a major distraction and the results are that all of the other things that we SHOULD have and COULD have avoided were simply ignored due to the attention paid to the imaginary 800 lb gorilla.

  2. Haven’t the gang green also prevented construction of dams and even the demolition of dams. Why are we so afraid of a rag tag, paid for crowd that we won’t do the right thing. They should just put ear plugs in and get with building reservoirs for health and safety reasons.

    • Greenpeace et al recently celebrated stopping the construction of a hydro dam in…. Chile, I believe. It would have supplied upwards of 40% of the nations’ needs. I guess water is too ‘green’ for them.

    • In California enviro gangs caused the giant Auburn dam project to be abandoned. That dam would have doubled the state’s capacity. It was finally abandoned.

      At the time more than $1 billion had been spent — when a $billion was a lot of money. Since then, the state’s population has doubled. But no new dams have been built.

      • We have exactly the same problems with catchment expansion here in Australia.
        The watermelon movement (greens, inviro gangs) blocking of all dam building.
        Yet governments of all persuasions have no problem expanding the sewrage system.
        Which draws more and more water from our water storages to service an ever increasing population.
        It seems as long as your not up to your knees in crap you won’t notice you have less and less to drink.
        My favorite saying which causes the greens no end of angst is,
        “Two half full dams have more water than one”!

      • Auburn’s capacity was to be about half of Shasta’s, so it could not have “doubled the state’s capacity.” A bigger concern without Auburn is the flood risk to Sacramento, but with less snowpack that risk may be decreasing.

  3. For years politicians in Kalifornia have listened to the eco nuts. So, let them eat sand.

    Have the 7 P’s ever been more appropriate?

    • Very nice Tom…. Politicians never pay for mistakes, I and other residents will remember you as we eat our sand sandwiches. Thanks

      Now let’s talk reality. Two years ago we had nearly full reservoirs until the Feds dictated the release of thousands of acre feet of water, in large part to “save the salmon”,when fishermen knew that salmon runs vary in cycles, and one of the real reasons for the diminishing returns was predication by the non native fish stripped bass. In their wisdom the state severly restricted the season and bag limit on these predictors. (Another reason to ignore stupid laws).
      I understand that this is not the only problem, but it is an obvious one, easily mitigated, that any intelligent thought would allow for.

      • Yes, people forget 2 years ago CA rainfall was 110% of normal – and it hasn’t been thousands of acre feet released, it’s been MILLIONS of acre feet released!

      • How many salmon are being saved by those empty reservoirs now? In the 1960’s I lived across the street from Washington Park in Alameda. It was all the rage then to fish for striped bass along the bayshore below the park before all the houses were installed on the landfill. That’s an old problem – sounds like there should be a bounty on them.

      • … and the Kaliforniakation people still vote in the Demokratik Party ? This is like acute self flagellation!

      • People get the government they elect. If you keep electing liberal know nothings, then you keep suffering the consequences.

        FWIW, here in Florida we may be on the path to the same thing. Charlie Crist is back running for Governor as a Democrat. He was Governor 4 years ago, but as a Republican. He did such a bad job knew he wouldn’t be re-elected so he made a run at the U. S. Senate Having failed in that endeavor and being jobless for the last 4 years, he apparently thinks he can fool us into giving him his old job back. Now, watch how liberals will vote for him, not because of his credentials or ability, but because he carries the Democrat party banner.

    • What do politicians care when they need do nothing at all and blame it all on AGW/CC? The perfect excuse for the the failed in life (who then go on to fail the public).

  4. They told us this would happen! Floods,droughts,tornadoes and hurricanes. They just couldn’t tell us where ,when and for how long. But now they can say “We told you so!”

  5. CO2 is sneaky that way……it affects climate, sea levels, water, snow, etc… without affecting temperatures

    “12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter.”…when you predict everything….you can’t lose…isn’t that they way they’ve done it so far?

    …and it’s working out just fine for them

  6. Haven’t I read that the abundant pot farms in CA use huge and excessive amounts of water, so much so that they short legitimate agricultural and household needs?

    Probably an urban myth, but still, hmmmm….

    • No, not a myth, just not plural. One guy got charged last week (?) for stealing over a million of something–acre feet per year? gallons?–of public water for his marijuana plants on the side of a mountain. Most indoor pot farms are hydroponic and do not use excessive amounts of water.

      • Having lived in San Diego County, and Tuolumne County in Northern Calif, and talking to Forrest Rangers in both areas, outdoor pot growing is extensive and well armed throughout the state. I do not know how much water they use, however it must be a very small fraction of what the state uses.

  7. The state of Nevada is benefiting from (or suffering from) people fleeing the land of fruits and nuts to a state where they can find jobs and afford to purchase a house. Too many of them bring their wacky California ways with them, however and it may not be long until they ruin another state.

    At least in Nevada we know we live in a desert.

    • Unfortunately, we don’t. Since the majority of Nevada’s population (Clark County), gets its water from the Colorado River and is dependent on the Western Rockies snowpack to replenish the Colorado River, Nevada is no better off than California. And unfortunately, the granola crowd just lowers the average IQ when it comes to making realistic water decisions. The fact is, not only is Southern Nevada population growth unsustainable, so is the current population. And it will only get worse. Hopefully, the current droughts are short term and related to the Pacific cycles and not the precursor to a centuries long (non-anthropogenic) climate change such as those that have occurred in the past.
      Funny, when you go to a job interview, they ask you what you did at prior jobs under the premise that past performance is the best indicator for future performance. That concept is totally lost on those who see mankind as an invasive species that is destroying the planet.

      • Actually, a lot of people here don’t get that we’re in a desert, either, but new regulations have cut back on the people trying to plant large lawns and non-native garden plants.

        Is the current population unsustainable? Depends on whether this is a standard multi-year drought or a really big one. But just as elsewhere, the feds don’t manage the water in Lake Mead for our benefit. If they cut back on the spring releases, the lake would have several more feet of water.

        And don’t even talk to me about the water sent to California.

      • I live in Nevada, specifically to avoid living in California. I’m going to have to move again if they move in. This whole drought non-issue could have been solved generations ago with coupled nuclear power/desalination plants. Thanks to the *&%! eco nuts, we can’t use technology that has existed for 75 years to provide something as simple and basic as water.


    • At least in Nevada we know we live in a desert.

      And the entire state survives on 400,000 acre feet per year from the Colorado River, too. The water-rich northern California diverted 3,000,000 acre feet of water to the ocean over the past five years to save the delta smelt, a baitfish, instead of using the aqueducts and catchment system built decades ago (drought protection) to send it to the agricultural heartland. That’s 7.5X what the entire state of Nevada uses in one year.

  8. “What value do climate model-based studies provide? … None.”

    This is absolutely true. The entire scam is built on top of models that do not model reality in any way. But even if the models did not all include the mistaken Sagan/Hansen bull crap, they still could never trump observation based science. They are just computer games.

    The real world says that CO2 is going up, up, and up — yet temperatures are flat or declining. The models and the hypothesis have failed. But the model gazers claim there is heat hiding deep in the ocean. Malarkey!

  9. OT – but is it not safe to say that the Arctic sea ice has passed minimum? We’re had no WUWT article on it. It shows growth on the 2013 minimum.

    Also – what happened to all that north hemisphere – especially north Pacific – super-high SSTs? They kinda vanished. Now the north Atlantic is looking quite cool.

    Not to mention cold SSTs all around the supposedly warming Antarctica.

    Still – I guess that big el Ninot is just around the corner…

  10. As in the case of Federal funding for reconstruction after the LA riots, there will be those power centers (Chicago) that get a share of the funds for similar inner city spending programs. Of course everyone has heard of the droughts in Chicago and Detroit, right? Get ready for the climate change spending spree or be left out–in the cold.

  11. Get ready for the high speed rail (for water) funding announcement and exposes on water use of the rich (non donors).

  12. Three weeks ago I came back from driving from Calgary, Alberta, down the westcoast highway, through Washington, Oregon and California. I cut across at L.A. into the interior valleys, down as far as the southern end of the Salton Sea, close to the California-Mexico border. It was hot, hot, hot: 41 – 43C each day I was there until the morning fierce winds and rain came in from offshore Mexico (hurricane induced), drowning the Palm Springs area in 5+ cm of sudden rain. Everywhere I went I asked people about the drought.

    Nobody I spoke to in southern California talked about Global Warming being the cause. They all spoke of three things:

    1. repetitive drought cycles, of which there have been far worse,
    2. the failure of winter snows to provide runoff for the reservoirs and rivers, and
    3. the mismanagement/over-demand of water for cities, agriculture and (principally Native concerns) fishing.

    Of these, the last was the most important.

    California has too many people trying to do too much. Palm Springs has 120 golf courses, we were told, which all need extensive watering. The public grass areas are still watered – during the day and fountains are still running. Open irrigation ditches and lagoons are the way water is moved around the area. Not only are large areas of desert in agriculture, but even larger areas are in the process of development for agriculture. Housing is still expanding. The Salton Sea is planned to lose much of its last bit of input water in the next couple of years as the demand for agriculture water rises. Regardless of changes in rainfall or snow, the demands for water grow and then grow more.

    If you were to look at what should be done on a climate-averaged basis, it is not what is being done today. The free-market demand to do as you like as long as you pay for it – water your lawn, increase your crop area and demand – does not allow for sustainable water use in principle. But the people there know it. They know they live in a desert. They moved there because it is sunny, hot and doesn’t rain much.

    Did the ones I spoke to know about Global Warming/Climate Change? Certainly they did, but they could not say that normal processes were not responsible. The natural dryness, natural variations – and management of water – were so large as to make any climate change addition to the problem not material. They were not saying our Jeeps should be ground up for scrap metal (especially the air-con parts). They were saying that you can’t do what they are all trying to do in an environment like southern California.

    The problem is the urban, eco-green. He is so far removed from nature as to be unconscious of how nature works. Speak to the people who have a history on the land and you are likely to find the same problem convincing them that human-derived CO2 is the problem in their lives as convincing meteorologists – who work with the natural variations professionally – that the academic, computer-modeled climatologists know what is going on in a 60-year time period.

    • I live in the Central Valley of California and despite what GISS may say we had the coolest summer in ten years. I cannot speak for south state heat, but I have observed my own weather daily and have recorded high temp for more than 20 years. Dry yes, hot no.

      • California has droughts when it is cold. Cold water of the coast does not evaporate as much into rain.

        Remember that the mid-70s were both very cold (snow on the floor of the Great Valley – a very rare thing) and very dry. Hot is rainy, cold is dry; that’s how it works in California rain cycles. Oh, and given that we had some snow in L.A. a couple of years back, I think it’s pretty easy to predict drought to follow…. ( in fact, at that time, I pointed out the connection and expectations…)

    • Good points, especially about climate average based uses not in balance with supply. But, there is little by way of free markets in California water. Consumptive use is encouraged by many state water use policies (or risk losing it…all use is liscensed, no one “owns” the water except the State), and there is almost no price signaling during shortages as rates for water deliveries are set mostly just on conveyance (not scaricity) costs…and even those costs are subsidized like crazy. Like Zetland says: “Nature makes droughts, man makes shortages!”

  13. Thanks Bob… Considering the amount of money spent on “climate science” California should have been warned years in advance of this oncoming drought. Yet, they were unprepared. Unfortunately, they aren’t the only part of the nation that is unprepared or becoming more unprepared as Obama’s EPA continues to coerce the closure of many power plants in the US. This winter is sure going to be interesting.

  14. Why are mainstream media simply parroting press releases?

    Likely because it’s easier and most in the media have little to no science background. They are also inundated with “consensus” views and a constant clamor that the “consensus” claims are the only option. Without a strong science background and understanding of the scientific process, the consensus wins, The same thing happens in medical reports. Under the circumstances, it’s the only reasonable outcome.

  15. I read an article about the water shortage in California, and its basic cause. That article pointed out that many years ago, they made plans for drought, building the dams and reservoirs, but at that time, California had something like 20 million people living there.

    Then along came the environmentalists that found a small fish to be threatened if the water in a river was throttled back to allow a reservoir to fill, and others joined in. Next thing you knew, the drought resilience that was being built in was somewhat stymied.

    That was years ago, and since then the population has increased to over 30 million people and no further drought resilience was introduced since it was blocked by environmentalists. And although people that truly pay attention to “the weather” and the fact that it DOES repeat itself, tried to warn the environmentally correct people of the politically correct California, that droughts will return, the warnings fell on delusional ears.

    California, then, suffers from a somewhat self-inflicted problem of sustained loss of water. Although the farmers had more to do with bringing Colorado River water to California then the cities, they are the first to be cut off from the life blood THEY bought, just as they are here in Arizona, while the cities that waste millions of gallons get it. Perhaps worse, in California, instead of the farmer’s getting the water they paid for, it goes to bottling companies that ship it out of state.

    It doesn’t take reliable “climate information” since climate covers changes over decades and centuries. It only took paying attention to reliable long range weather forecasting, based on watching weather patterns, to have been PREPARED for what they are going through now. We lay too much credence at the feet of “science” and not enough at the feet of “common sense.”

    • Exactly right Tom. The current drought is not surprising and California has been de-preparing for it the last few decades, even to the point of destroying existing dams, which also had hydro-electric generators. (many thousands of windmills worth)

      The evironuts are not about saving fish however. What they are after is population control both in terms of controlling people and limiting people.

    • I ask this only partly tongue in cheek – Would California have as severe a water shortage if all the illegal immigrants in that state were deported?

      • I don’t have an answer to that, but it probably is a bad time to open the borders to a large flood of unskilled, language challenged people, all of whom will need a flush toilet, food, and a free education. The obvious ROI is blue votes. I’m reminded of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” where the only goal is the western shore.

    • The Northern Beaches of Cairns in Australia are starving of sand. Long shore currents make sand migrate northwards but the sand is not replenished by the Barron River which used to have big sand bars and a delta cone of sand in front of its mouth. That is all gone. Why? Because they build a big dam that stops the river sand to reach the coast. Now some of the Northern beaches’ boulevards have to be protected with big walls of stone and only at very low tide one can walk on sand. The coconut palm trees that used to line the beaches of Clifton Beach are gradually washed into the sea. So I am not a big supporter of dams.

    • FWIW, Wikipedia, the peerless, ultra-reliable source, indicates a population for California as >38 million people (2014 estimate), when i checked two minutes ago. Largest state population in the US.


  16. As I’ve been observing, “truthiness” is what makes the liberal slanted media types believe press releases. BTW let me clarify that what I mean by liberal slanted is that while the majority are moderates but conservatives are almost entirely absent from the ranks of journalists.

    • Actually, in a poll i read about a few years ago, something like 92% of ‘journalists’ self-identified as liberal.

  17. Very serious post. Certainly worthy of every person in a place of authority to answer. Going forward, does money go for votes or water? Seems like a silly question, but the answer according to my models suggests, more of same.
    To be fair it could start raining next month and not stop for weeks. While elections are predictable.

  18. Indeed it is very poor planning…. the Progressives are way too busy wasting a hundred plus billion dollars on a medium speed train to connect LA to SF which will be useless. The train doesn’t make sense at 100 million, let alone 100 billion…. amazing just how idiotic they are…. and the people of Calif. keep them in office.

    • Its a 10 billion dollar train with 90 billion dollars in graft. They could have achieved the same non effect with 250 busses, because that is about the quantity of people they are going to be able to move with that train that goes right by an existing 2-3 lane superhighway.

  19. Bob Tisdale concluded above:
    “Poor planning on the parts of a few—based on politically motivated, unsound science—may make for emergencies for millions.”

    I agree with Bob’s statement, and it applies globally as well as to Southern California – so maybe billions rather than millions will suffer.

    The warmist mob have caused society to focus on the wrong problem. Humanity can survive AND thrive in any humanmade global warming, which promises to be quite mild, if it occurs at all. Natural global cooling (perhaps like the Little Ice Age) is of far greater concern, and appears more probable than global warming in the near future. Hope to be wrong on this.

    Best, Allan

  20. Somewhat OT, but related, from Daniel Greenfield at Sultan Knish

    Biblical fake prophets were often preferred to real prophets because they made rulers feel comfortable about the future. The modern technoprophet assures a secular elite that it can effectively control people and that it even has the obligation to do so. It tells them that “science” is on their side.

    The easy way to tell real religion from fake religion is that real religion doesn’t make you feel good. It doesn’t assure you that everything you’re doing is right and that you ought to keep on doing it.

    The same holds true for science. Real science doesn’t make you feel smart. Fake science does.

    No matter how smart you think you are, real science will make you feel stupid far more often than it will make you feel smart. Real science not only tells us how much more we don’t know than we know, a state of affairs that will continue for all of human history, but it tells us how fragile the knowledge that we have gained is, how prone we are to making childish mistakes and allowing our biases to think for us.

    Science is a rigorous way of making fewer mistakes. It’s not very useful to people who already know everything. Science is for stupid people who know how much they don’t know.”

    Well worth reading it all.

  21. Since OBama attempted to use the California drought to hype climate change last year, I reaserched it for the next book. The PDSI shows that California goes through a multy year dry spell roughly once a decade. Since 1970, California’s population has increased 87%. Its water reservoir capacity has increased 26%. Self inflicted wound.

    • Your comment is made stronger when considering the nearly 19 million population increase in California is greater than the total population of 16 other states including AK, DE, HI, ID, KS, ME, MT, NE, NH, NM, ND, RI, SD, VT, WV and WY.

      • You are correct. I just checked (nullius in verba). Great point, unfortunately too late to add to the book with attribution to you, since has been at the publishers for 10 days as a rush job given the upcoming election. Still a terrific observation.

  22. During the mid to late 1970s the West Coast suffered through a period of severe droughts. I think the El Nino event of 1982-83 finally broke the drought with its huge amount of winter rain-fall. The biggest difference today as compared to the late 1970s is the population of California is quite a bit bigger. I realize that water de-salination plants are expensive and require beaucoup amounts of energy; but, if California would have spread out the construction of these plants over the last 35 years, the impact of this severe drought would be much less.

    • I have been advocating molten salt reactor driven desalination plants for several years. The Chairman of the CA Energy Commission hates nuclear and wants to build more bird blending wind farms and solar bird boasters vs 24×7 safe nuke. I testified 15 months ago.

  23. “..12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter.”
    The science is settled!

  24. Its embarrassing to me, in terms of the state of our technological advancement, to see pictures of the Arizona flooding from the recent rain storms while reporters are saying that Arizona is still in a drought, because most of that rainfall will run off and not be added to the local water supply. Its embarrassing that we have people standing in knee high to waist high flooded areas while we complain to the world we are in a drought because we just can’t figure out how to make rainfall a part of our water supply, that the rain will mostly just run off because we don’t know how to save it. I don’t believe its because we don’t know how, I think its because we just haven’t spent the money to put the system in place to save the water. Because 90% of the time there is enough rain and snowfall that we don’t need it, and its more cost effective to not build a water saving system and rather spend the money on other methods of making it through the 10% of the time were the precipitation is low. That is the decision we have made, but it sure is embarrassing making it through that 10% drought period without a rainfall collection system in place.

    • In Southern California we have been working on collecting more of our rainwater for the last twenty years. This along with water conservation, reclamation and increased storage capacity, have left us in better shape than our northern neighbors since the last major drought of the early 90’s.

      For conservation, our annual water usage has decreased by 500,000 acre feet to 2,000,000 acre feet per year, while our population has increased by 5,000,000 to 19,000,000 since 1991.

      For reclamation, the discharge from sewer treatment plants is used to water the golf courses and recharge the aquifers. Throughout the local watersheds, percolation ponds have been built to collect rainwater to recharge the aquifers.

      New development has been required to install rainwater collection systems to recharge the aquifers. I just spoke at a planning commission meeting last week for a new development and the storage tank for the rainwater collection system as proposed was too small to handle large rain events.

      The current system as built by the L.A. MWD for Southern California can handle a 5 year drought (we are now in year 4) without major disruptions to supply. The central/northern part of the state did not make it through 3 years without supply disruptions. In either case, California currently does not have infrastructure in place to supply the water needs of the state during drought.

      The cheapest most cost effective way to improve this is through water conservation. Use less water per capita and as Steve said above, capture more of the rainwater to recharge the aquifers. More expensive but 2nd on this list would be increased storage of rainwater above ground in reservoirs.

      The most expensive option would be seawater desalination plants. They are currently building the largest desalination plant in the western hemisphere in Carlsbad, CA located in N. San Diego County. It should produce 50,000 acre feet of water per year. They use quite a lot of energy and if you were to build a great many of them, they most certainly would need to be nuclear powered. Although if the northern U.S. continues with cold winters, you would have a ready made market for the brine to be mixed with salt for the roadways.

  25. The only thing manmade about this climate is the manufactured hype and rewrites of historical records. This is one of the hidden costs of AGW that is now plain to see. Another hidden cost is the oportunity cost of spending so much time and money on AGW instead of dealing with real needs like water.
    Both of these costs are driven by the climate obsessed and those who have made their careers off of climate issues. The reality is that the climate obsessed have contributed nothing to help people deal with climate.

    • Its not just you. But its not so much the papers themselves. Its the sponsoring organization PR about them, apparently all the MSM uses anymore. My guest posts here Shell Games and Tipping Points both contain vivid examples, and where the misleading PR comes from ‘trusted’ NASA and NOAA rather than some Uni PR department. The new book has several other big contemporary examples of the same ilk.
      The trend is sometimes called ‘science by press release’, a phase coined (so far as I have been able to reasearch it) concerning the MMR/autism scandal in the UK (proven scientific misconduct and actual fraud). The full story is laid out as an example in The Arts of Truth.

  26. Funny, I’d posited the whole reverse “Grapes of Wrath” idea a while back. But I saw it being driven not just by drought but by the stifling Nanny State that forced people into re-education camps for thought crimes. Any way, it’d make a Helluva parody novel even a movie.

  27. In a nutshell: thanks Bob

    So some climate models say that daily precipitation intensity will increase and others say it will decrease. In other words, the climate science community is clueless about what the future might bring for west coast precipitation.

    • Well they are clueless about much more than just west coast precipitation, but you have to admit they are pretty good at press releases.

  28. I’m not one who generally invests much in most “conspiracy theories” per se, however, the complete lock-step mindset and rigidly enforced orthodoxy of the so-called “mainstream” media in the USA is one area where I find it hard to come to any conclusion other than that. If you just watch Big Media (both left and right) in the USA with an open and WELL INFORMED mind, I don’t see how you could come to any other conclusion. Whether you call the cabal calling the shots the wealthy “Ruling Class” elites or something more out in the ozone like the Annunaki/illuminati/blah blah blah cabal, there is a very small cabal calling the shots,

    The bottom line is, I do believe there is a very small, powerful cabal who own and control the majority of Big Media and the Infotainment machine and it is THEY who are really steering this society.rapidly into the toilet, and for their own extremely selfish and purely PERSONAL purposes.

    • Well they do have to keep their advertisers happy. No ratings = no advertisers = no profit. I think they do fall more toward the happily stupid end of the spectrum than evil end

      • Bob, a sincere compliment. We should all expect MSM to do a bit of due diligence. They don’t.
        You have gone far beyond, and on complex scientific subjects like ENSO and PDO. Many shoutouts forthcoming. Soldier on in your chosen area of deep expertise. Regards.

  29. The people of California got exactly what they wanted. No new dams, agricultural water diverted to streams to protect endangered species, and government control of everything. How convenient for them that they have been presented with a cause, climate change, that they can blame on everyone else, rather than face the truth that it was their own lack of planning that brought on the water shortage. To make it really convenient, climate change could also be blamed for floods as well as droughts, cold as well as hot. Why plan at all with such a convenient scapegoat?

  30. I think it is time to demand climate scientists to explain why they did not warn of each and every weather event they claim is due to global warming. What is it that the tax payers money is being spent on. It is they that need to be blamed when people suffer from global warming.

    • Well you can demand all you want, but when it comes to those types of demands climate scientists will readily claim that local weather has nothing to do climate. Of course when they are trying to convince a sketical public they will readily claim local weather is a direct result of climate change.

      So they speak from both sides of their mouth at the same time, luckily for the climate they still produce flatulance singularly.

  31. …vast flocks of California residents migrating to the Midwest…? Please don’t californicate the Midwest like you did the Northwest!

  32. The reason there are holes in the climate change argument is the science is not there. The reason those pushing the reduce CO2 agenda has nothing to do with climate change and that is why they ignore the flaws. The real agenda is to return the world to a preindustrial state which they somehow believe is better for everyone and will end unequal distribution of wealth by destroying and confiscating wealth.

  33. Are Californians mad enough to change their voting pattern? Not likely. I doubt too there are even enough people left in California with the skills, education, and desire to populate an alternative political party to reverse the trend. Have another sand sandwich.

    • On this map they have the Phoenix area (and north) in extreme drought. I know for a fact that the last month and a half they have had more than a years worth of rainfall over the whole area depicted on the map.

    • I live in a desert in Washington State right where that red patch meets the Canadian border. Our lake is full, our rivers are full, and it is raining right now. The cause is obviously our having recently legalized pot. I see Colorado is even more green.

      • jeez, folks. You expect the US government to be current on its current graphics?
        Get with OBummers climate change program, before you get an IRS audit.
        That water you think you have? It is fish sustaining water, or beaver dam water. Either way the EPA will outlaw your ever touching it, and you will still be in drought after all…

  34. Provision for drought is a “no brainer” as far as I’m concerned. The North West of the state of Victoria ( where I live) had an old open channel system for delivering stock and domestic water. This system lost vast amounts of water through seepage and evaporation and often the reservoirs ran dry. An underground reticulated system was put on place six years ago and now in the middle of another periodic drought we have water to keep our homes and industries functioning. The system cost a great deal short term but will give us water security on a generational timeframe. Got a problem? Call an engineer.

  35. We in Australia came out of a 10 year drought about 3 years ago now. Water capacities were below 50% and all looked dire. The alarmists were making predictions such as even if we had rain the soil would not absorb it and the dams etc would never fill again. Of course when the rains came and guess what the dams filled the strategy became that this was also a result of climate change and the media let them get away with it. It just befuddles me that these experts are so far from predicting just about anything that they still have any credibility. Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has now been exposed as altering historic records to change cooling trends to warming trends and even that is finding traction hard. These guys are not scientists. They have a predictive power dangerously close to zero.

    • Here in the Bay Area we range from forest to desert. The 10 inch rainfall line cuts through our Easternmost suburbs, which are located just to the East of Altamont Pass (Tracy, Patterson, Mountain House, etc).

  36. drought? according to the diagram above California is mostly desert to begin with. has california now invented negative rain?

    so why wasn’t California prepared for climate change? They sure spend a lot of time and money on stuff like CARB and carbon trading.

    Why doesn’t California have the worlds biggest desalination plant? With all that solar energy available, why not distill sea water? Surely you can find anything greener than that. No need for batteries. No need to worry about what happens at night.

    Strange that California can spend billions on a high speed rail system, but can’t figure out that when you live in a desert and population keeps on increasing, you better have a way to get water.

  37. Australia has a bunch of mothballed desalinisation plants they could probably sell you. It wouldn’t be easy to transport them though. I’ve always wondered why they don’t just build these things into giant barges so that they can tow them from drought to drought. They need to be on the sea to operate anyway.

  38. Having lived in California for 25 years, I remember several drought cycles. The first one ended the rainy season after we moved in to our house. The last drought caused some municipalities to consider and install desalination plants. According to a recent Mercury News article, there is only one operating de-sal plant in California (mainland) and 2 operating de-sal plants on the islands off of Los Angeles. There is also a de-sal plant in Santa Barbara, however it was not properly maintained and is not operating today when Santa Barbara needs more water.

    As soon as the last drought ended, so did the talk of desalination. Now there are many more de-sal plants proposed, but these will more likely be forgotten if we have more normal rainfall this next rainy season. Sadly, as a result of the last drought, municipalities in San Luis Obispo County spent tax money to connect to the California State Water Project. Prior to this, San Luis Obispo had relied on reservoirs. Thankfully the reservoirs are still maintained, since the State Water Project brings water from Sierra snow melt to cities in the southern parts of California. The problem is that with drier then normal winters, there is less Sierra snow to melt and thus inadequate water in the State Water Project. Many Central Valley farms have been cut off of State Water so that there is adequate State Water for Los Angeles.

    Aside from passing water restrictions, neither Governor Brown nor the California Legislature has done anything to prepare California for real drought conditions. They are busy doing other things like instituting a statewide ban on plastic bags, increasing the gasoline tax further (already the highest in the nation), setting up a cap and trade system, and creating an even more onerous regulatory environment. All of this will result in fewer jobs and less water.

    • Brooks, you nailed it. My college roommate was Navy assigned to the San Fransisco area during the mid 1970’s. I have vivid recollections of he and his wife Linda’s reported water saving struggles with their first children in diapers.

    • Aside from passing water restrictions, neither Governor Brown nor the California Legislature has done anything to prepare California for real drought conditions.
      reminds me of our own government. we are a sea-port, yet they removed the coast guard station. now the police provide this function.

      recently one of the yachts capsized in a local race, and 2 police boats came out to attend. neither had equipment onboard to provide assistance to the yacht, but they were prepared to write tickets for any equipment missing on the yacht.

      in the end our race committee chase boat rescued the yacht. neither of the police boats lent a hand, but they did follow and observe very closely, looking for the slightest infraction. saving lives, one ticket at a time.

  39. It isn’t like water shortages are anything new in California.

    California Water Wars
    The California Water Wars were a series of conflicts between the city of Los Angeles and farmers and ranchers in the Owens Valley of Eastern California. As Los Angeles grew in the late 1800s, it started to outgrow its water supply.

    This diagram shows that flows in the Colorado river have been decreasing in a near straight line since long before Climate Change could possibly have started.

  40. Bob
    “So some climate models say that daily precipitation intensity will increase and others say it will decrease. In other words, the climate science community is clueless about what the future might bring for west coast precipitation.”

    what they wrote.

    “Of the 25 downscaled model projections examined here, 21 agree that precipitation frequency will DECREASE by the 2060s, with a mean reduction of 6–14 days yr−1. This reduces California’s mean annual precipitation by about 5.7%. Partly offsetting this, 16 of the 25 projections agree that daily precipitation intensity will INCREASE, which accounts for a model average 5.3% increase in annual precipitation. Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter.”

    21 of 25 said precipitation FREQUENCY will decrease. That is days when it rains goes down by 6-14 days

    16 of 25 agreed that INTENSITY will increase, that means WHEN it rains it rains more.

    when you combine those two metrics and just look at annual totals you have 12 showing drier and 13 showing wetter.

    Its important when summarizing to do so accurately.. because it actually makes your case stronger.

    • when you combine those two metrics and just look at annual totals you have 12 showing drier and 13 showing wetter.
      about what a toss of the coin would predict. only at much reduced cost.

  41. Thanks, Bob. Lets hope to learn from failure, as it should be.
    And yes, desalination is a good source of water for colonizing an arid zone.
    Is there now no chance of an El Niño 2014?

  42. Add to your list “The law of thermodynamics as it relates to an open gravitational system.” While we haven’t been cooling at ground level for sixteen years, NASA hasn’t needed to do major adjustments to the space station in several years because it is no longer plowing through a greatly expanded atmosphere.

    Has anybody actually kept any records as to how much mass a liter of air at sea level has had over the last 30 years? Gravity defines pressure – so much so that we use pressure as a primary means of forecasting. So much so that as you go up in altitude the pressure and temperature drop, as you go down in altitude below sea level the maximum temperature increases along with the maximum air pressure.

    The pressure won’t go past a certain point, that means the air temperature won’t go above a certain point either. Law of thermodynamics at work in an open system defined by gravity.

    TPV isn’t in ANY of the climate models in any way.

  43. Poor planning spawned emergency but with such a perfect excuse: “climate change”, so no one resigns, their salaries and pensions safe.

  44. The mass of air over the surface remains the same. The surface pressure does not change as the atmosphere inflates or deflates due to thermal energy in it changing. pg

    • as the atmosphere expands there is slightly reduced gravitational force due to increased distance (varies as the square of the distance), and thus reduced pressure at sea level. this should provide a small negative feedback to increased solar radiation.

  45. The Greenie Dingbats and their kowtowing Watermelon DEMO-gogues can try knocking down some more dams and water reservoir impoundments. That has certainly helped.
    DEMO-gogues don’t plan ahead. THey run to get ahead of the momentary mindless mob.

    California needs outside generation for fully 30% of its electricity supply. A “drought” of electricity is surely coming on the knaves and fools who voted for the DEMO-gogues.

    The last company leaving California won’t have to turn off the lights.

  46. California did have a long term plan. But in the 70’s & ’80s the Democrat controlled state cancelled the construction of more reservoirs, etc, in order to Save the Planet. Since then, those wise legislators opened their southern border to millions of illegal immigrants, more than even the Colorado river can supply. So now, bad things are going to happen.

  47. Again, all we have to do to alleviate drought and floods is enact a simple plan- we dig spillways along rivers to take away the threat of floods. We then take that run-off water to reservoirs. From there we can then route water to wherever it is needed. Los Angelas, New York City and Boston all get their water from many miles away. All we have to do is ramp up the scale and the entire country will be covered.

  48. “Poor planning on the parts of a few—based on politically motivated, unsound science—may make for emergencies for millions”.

    Great line Bob! I remember Chuck Todd on Meet The Press saying that instead of pointing fingers at who or what was responsible for the weather events that have reeked havok over the years, (I think this was just after Sandy) maybe we should just prepare for such things. I always go back to Katrina….If the levees were taken care of the way they should have been, then maybe 1400 people would still be alive. Just a thought.

  49. This is an excellent article and points to a very real problem. I remember speaking to a climate modeler just a few years ago who denied the existence of the AMO/PDO phenomenon and said that they will go away. The models don’t predict them and so they can’t exist. Remarkably this is even though he admitted the models were poor at predicting anything.

    As you point out the resistance of the climate community to accept the PDO/AMO has resulted in them not considering these phenomenon when if we had a less politically motivated group they would have noticed the correlations of AMO/PDO with certain weather patterns and warned that since we were in a negative phase for AMO/PDO that we would likely have less rain in california and drought conditions for the next 15 years or so.

  50. The problem stems from the mindset that the ONLY solution is to reduce CO2. This provides the political excuse for inaction. Since we are powerless to reduce CO2, we are powerless to provide more water. But of course your average 6th grader could see the illogic.

    If California wants more water, the solution is surprisingly simple. Spend money and buy water. If you are willing to pay for it, there would be tanker after tanker waiting at San Pedro harbor waiting to offload water.

    The problem for California is that they have a shortage of cheap water. There is no shortage of the other kind.

  51. Pierce et al. (2013) said (my emphasis): Of the 25 downscaled model projections examined here, 21 agree that precipitation FREQUENCY will DECREASE by the 2060s, with a mean reduction of 6–14 days yr−1. This reduces California’s mean annual precipitation by about 5.7%. Partly offsetting this, 16 of the 25 projections agree that daily precipitation INTENSITY will INCREASE, which accounts for a model average 5.3% increase in annual precipitation. Between these conflicting tendencies, 12 projections show drier annual conditions by the 2060s and 13 show wetter.

    Bob wrote: “So some climate models say that daily precipitation intensity will increase and others say it will decrease. In other words, the climate science community is clueless about what the future might bring for west coast precipitation.”

    Bob, you can do better than this. They are predicting a future with less total rain (down 5.7%) falling less frequently from more intense storms. To exaggerate for example, one storm every two weeks lasting 10 hours producing 1.5 inches rain, rather than one storm every week lasting 10 hours and producing 1.0 inches of rain. That’s a 50% increase precipitation intensity, a 50% decrease in precipitation frequency, and most importantly at 25% decrease in total rainfall.

    The interesting question is what meteorology causes this. Does rainfall in general get less frequent and more intensity when it is warmer or is this an artifact of all climate models? The C-C eqn suggests 7% more rainfall somewhere for every degree of warming, but climate models (in conflict with observations) predict less than a 7% increase.

  52. I link the drought to climate change. There are two horizons of said change. The first horizon is multidecadal. The PDO went negative, and definitely changed the climate to a generally cooler and drier climate. Overall, current El Ninito notwithstanding, we have had cooler SSTs. Those factors drive drought. Longer term, there are indicators that there is a secular mullticentury cooling trend in California. That is troubling, given the paleoclimate indicators concerning mega droughts.

  53. Anthony,

    A friend and I were up at the Yuba goldfields in August and were surprised at the normal flow of the Yuba River. We’d expected a vastly reduced water level because of the drought but, no it was like any other year. I looked at a map when I got home and found that the south fork is fed by numerous lakes, reservoirs and the river itself. So, if the flow is controlled by the output of dams at the various lakes, WUWT?

    Just an observation that doesn’t fit with the term drought. This goes along with keeping the flow up on the American River at Folsom Dam to preserve something downstream. What became of those things prior to there being a dam? They survived somehow then but can’t now for whatever reason.


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