California trees 'smart response' to drought

sequoia_treesVia WUWT reader NEO in “Tips and Notes” – Research ecologist Nathan Stephenson crawled around magnificent Giant Forest, checking young giant sequoias for damage from California’s three-year drought.

Instead of stressed-out plants, he found young trees that looked pretty happy, he said. But at some point, he glanced upward and saw something startling.

“The foliage had died back on a much larger sequoia above me,” said Stephenson, a sequoia authority who works for the U.S. Geological Survey. “It’s not happening to all of them, but there is a subset of bigger trees showing stress. It makes sense, but it surprised me a little.”

The brown needles on a 3,000-year-old tree are a smart response to drought, Stephenson said. The trees dump their old foliage when they get drought-stressed and focus on new growth.

But the bigger takeaway: Nature may hold a few surprises as the climate warms this century for giant sequoias and other plants and animals. California’s intense drought is giving scientists a valuable sneak peek.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/10/18/4184871_giant-sequoias-may-surprise-us.html?sp=/99/217/&rh=1#storylink=cpy

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89 thoughts on “California trees 'smart response' to drought

  1. I can’t even describe my disgust at people arrogant enough to think that “this” drought is something like the “worst ever”… have they completely stopped teaching History in California? Or maybe even teaching the meaning of the word history???
    Last line… valuable “sneak peek”? At what, the uber mega-droughts coming from the dreaded “Climate Change”??? Just whacked.

    • I, too, am outraged at the assumption that the climate will warm this century. It certainly might. It also might cool. The blithe assumption that we know what will happen in the teeth of a zero percent prediction record so far is disgusting.

    • Here we go again! If California NEVER got droughts lasting several years this century, THAT would be abnormal. Here is the IPCC stating that fact.

      IPCC
      IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
      Multiple proxies, including tree rings, sediments, historical documents and lake sediment records make it clear that the past 2 kyr included periods with more frequent, longer and/or geographically more extensive droughts in North America than during the 20th century (Stahle and Cleaveland, 1992; Stahle et al., 1998; Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998; Forman et al., 2001; Cook et al., 2004b; Hodell et al., 2005; MacDonald and Case, 2005). Past droughts, including decadal-length ‘megadroughts’ (Woodhouse and Overpeck, 1998), are most likely due to extended periods of anomalous SST (Hoerling and Kumar, 2003; Schubert et al., 2004; MacDonald and Case, 2005; Seager et al., 2005), but remain difficult to simulate with coupled ocean-atmosphere models. Thus, the palaeoclimatic record suggests that multi-year, decadal and even centennial-scale drier periods are likely to remain a feature of future North American climate, particularly in the area west of the Mississippi River.

      • It gets even worse regarding the Giant Sequoia. They need fire for their reproductive cycles.

        Abstract
        Title Giant sequoia ecology. Fire and reproduction.
        Authors Harvey, H. T.; Shellhammer, H. S.; Stecker, R. E.
        Book Giant sequoia ecology. Fire and reproduction. 1980, recd. 1983 pp. xxii + 182 pp.
        Record Number 19830685517
        ….The role of insects in giant sequoia reproduction; Birds and mammals, fire, and giant sequoia reproduction; Douglas squirrels [Tamiasciurus douglasi] and sequoia regeneration; and Conclusions and management implications. It is suggested that prescribed burning should be used carefully in giant sequoia management: hot, localized fires appeared to be the best for seedling development……..
        http://www.cabdirect.org/abstracts/19830685517.html;jsessionid=2FEBFFB334139481E4F2B1F1131208CC

        It’s worse than we thought!

        California Department of Parks and Recreation
        “Fire and the Giant Sequoia”
        …..Fire helps giant sequoias in many ways. Small, green cones full of seeds awaiting germination grow near the crown of the trees, yet without fire or insects to crack open the cone, the seeds remain trapped inside. Green cones can live with viable seeds inside them for up to twenty years. Fire dries out the cones, enabling them to crack open and deposit their seeds on the forest floor……
        http://www.150.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=27588

    • And if it does warm the Pacific ocean – there will be less drought in CA. The cool waters off the west coast of the USA are CA’s natural air conditioning, which makes it relatively dry. Dry air warms easier with less water vaporizing to soak up heat. When the Pacific ocean warms we get more moisture and more rain… Just sayin’

  2. Do they really think that trees that can live 1000 years or more can’t survive 1 drought? They’ve probably survived 10 already.

    • Perhaps they think that climate and ecological history started all at once with the first computer climate model. It’s the big climate bang theory.

    • La..la ..la… this drought is man made and its the worst ever….la la la….I can’t hear you….la la la…

    • Those you collectively refer to as “they” are prepared to believe in whatever they think will make them appear “heroic” and to tell Reality and common sense to take a hike.
      For the majority of the libcultists the environment, like any other victim class, is merely a prop in their own personal Grand Melodramas of faux heroism and courage and its true value is in giving them another opportunity to *prove* something grand, glorious – and false – about themselves.
      Its about THEM. Its all about THEM. Its only about THEM.

    • There was a time when I bothered with the big mainstream warmist sites. On at least one of them I read on its “about page” (or some such) that we are now experiencing the hottest temperatures in the history of the planet. Mind-blowing.

    • Extreme drought kills trees and other terrestrial life. I think that is part of evolution. Some members of the species survive. That is why they have been around for thousands of years.

  3. Redwoods have survived much worse droughts. But for the climate obsessed every day is a new day, and every new day is a way to make climate the center of their attention.

  4. Amazing what one can learn by simply shutting off the computer models and going out in the field and observing.

    • Tom,
      Agree on the field trips (just like I did in elementary school when we wanted to learn something real world).
      While I help design and build satellites and science instruments involved in some of the measurements we talk about here on WUWT, I am also a SCUBA instructor. I had a recent customer from NCAR here in Boulder who wanted to try scuba diving in our pool to see if he liked it. He is apparently in a group writing reports assessing coral reef health and impacts of global warming. When asked where he’s been snorkeling in the world, he listed two “tropical” locations relatively close to the US mainland. In trying to convince him how important getting scuba certified would be to his work, he seemed indifferent and never came back to get his certification as a diver. How can you possibly be an expert on coral reefs without going in the water?
      Bruce

      • I had a classmate in geology whose goal was to work only in a laboratory. He detested field work – worrying about everything from poison oak to bears and rattle snakes, complained about sweat and dirt(!).

    • Yes – that when it’s dry leaves or needles turn brown and die off. Wow – who’d a thunk it… sarc/

    • And if the climate doesn’t warm this century, nature will still have a few surprises for us. Actually, I predict a lot of surprises.

  5. I think we need to bring in a tree ring specialist at this point for an option on what to look for. It’s not what he is looking at. We need the trees to talk, Twin Towers sort of.

  6. Imagine that , the native trees evolved to tolerate the droughts that periodically occur.
    I am only surprised that the researchers concerned have the nerve to call themselves scientists.

  7. The Giant Sequoias have seen this before:
    New York Times: July 19.1994: “Beginning about 1100 years ago (long before any human influence on CO2), what is now California baked in two droughts, the first lasting 220 years, and the second 140 years. Each was more intense than the mere six-year dry spells that afflict modern California from time to time, new studies of past climates show. The findings suggest, in fact, that relatively wet periods like the 20th century have been the exception rather than the rule in California for at least the last 3500 years, and that mega-droughts are likely to recur.” It may be politically convenient to blame the current drought on Catastrophic Anthropologic Global Warming, but it would not be honest.

      • re:antifragile and the Green Lumber Fallacy
        ================================
        Researchers assume the trees are dropping their needles due to drought, because they only studies the trees during times of drought. They need to study the trees during times of no drought, to see if needle drop stops (it doesn’t).

      • Needle-drop rates vary with stress. The size of stomata of leaves change in size according stresses and replacing needles that are adapted to a lower or higher stress increase the plant’s metabolic efficiency. Plants actively adapt to environment just animals do.

    • Perhaps the old trees are helping out the yougsters by letting a bit more light in. Perhaps they communicate (hi Sou this one’s for you!).

  8. I just hiked through the Freeman Creek grove, the eastern most Sequoia grove in the Sierra Nevada. I saw some foliage die back on a minor portion of the older trees, none on the younger trees. For the most part the trees seemed “happy”.
    Up on the Kern Plateau the Red Cedars are not doing well in places- I assume it is drought related, The Junipers, which can be huge and magnificent, look stressed, but I think they will prevail. Further east the bark beetle is doing in the Pinyons on the dryer ridgetops and mountain slopes. I’m guessing the mountainscape will become a little less green as the Pinyons are more sparsely distributed to use the available water.

  9. “Research ecologist Nathan Stephenson crawled around magnificent Giant Forest, checking young giant sequoias…”
    How about: “… research ecologist crawled around an abutment of the Golden Gate Bridge checking out the affect of the drought on the structural integrity of the bridge…”
    Is the guy a forester, botanist or what?

    • He’s an ecologist. Ecology is a discipline in and of itself. From Google, he works for the United States Geological Survey, Western Environmental Research Center. At its most general ecology studies the flows of energy and materials (nutrients) in living communities. At more detailed levels it may study the interactions of individual species with their environment or the interactions of local biological communities. Apparently he’s been contaminated by working around a bunch of geologists who shake their heads and mutter every time someone starts rambling about AGW and went outside and looked around.
      Every geologist has had one or more courses in historical geology. Because of that, every geologist also knows that there is no evidence in the geological record of any climate sensitivity to CO2. Quite the reverse. You can, especially in academia, encounter geologists who word research results and grant applications to at least tip the hat toward CO2 and climate, but every one of them knows better.

  10. Warmists are sick people. They have some kind of Nietsche-esque death-wish.
    Looking at life they see only death.
    Its a ghoulish necrophilia. They really do need help. They cant celebrate the wonder and beauty of nature. All they can think of is looking for signs of death from climate. If they dont find any they make some up.

    • I agree.
      Just two weeks ago I was walking in a grove of old redwoods on the “Avenue of Giants.” There are not so many tourists there, and the magnitude of the grandeur made the few humans in the grove walk softly, in awe, as if afraid to disturb sleeping giants, or perhaps out of reverence for the sanctity of a sort of cathedral. It was quiet and cool in that shade, though around ninety out on the highway.
      I was conversing quietly with a young man who told me engineers had long been in awe of the trees, because it apparently seemed physically impossible to pump water up over 250 feet, but the trees somehow managed to lift the water up over 300 feet. Only recently have engineers figured out how the trees do it, (and they are still arguing about whether the solution they have come with is valid.)
      Considering the difficulties of lifting the water that high, it might make sense that taller trees have more signs of drought damage. It also explains why the trees soar up so high, and then taper so rapidly to blunt tops. However all this is merely facts and figures. There are no numbers that can measure the sheer grandeur of such trees, and it is a very great pity when people are not inspired to think higher thoughts, and instead cramp their brains, trying to think of ways to link redwoods and sequoias, in a single concluding paragraph, to the depressing, grant-grubbing subject of Global Warming.

      • ” the magnitude of the grandeur made the few humans in the grove walk softly, in awe, as if afraid to disturb sleeping giants, or perhaps out of reverence for the sanctity of a sort of cathedral”
        That’s an excellent point Caleb. As a hard-nosed agricultural scientist, I am always fighting against the emotional responses of people to “nature”, but when I walk through a grove of big trees I lower my voice. Awe? Respect? No idea, but big trees are certainly worthy of something.

      • The principle ecological limit in an old growth forest is access to light. The various species that compose the climax forest are likely to have reached very similar heights competing for sunlight. That is one reason that many trees don’t bother retaining branches near the ground as they mature, unless they are in savanna-like environments. Lower branches in dim environments do not pay off the metabolic investment. Since nearly all the parks were logged to some degree before becoming parks, they tend to be more open than the original forest. A ‘net search will show that the historical accounts of very large trees reports very similar sizes in the 19th and early twentieth centuries among Cedar, Douglas fir and Redwood in North America. In Australia the same size ranges are reported for 19th century Eucalyptus. An upper limit on tree height seems to fall between 400 and 500 feet, probably closer to 400.
        The height of trees in modern forests is very likely more related to logging and lumber preferences than to something “natural” about the specific species. Redwood is a less desirable wood for many construction purposes since it tends to be brittle. It is very rot resistant though, and was used in California to foot brick foundations in foundation trenches (no longer permissible under UBC). It was also used as flooring, placed directly on leveled, compacted soil. Douglas fir has a higher specific gravity, is less brittle and has a higher elastic modulus. But it does rot more rapidly than redwood when not protected. It is a superior construction wood and was in demand for bridges, trestles and wall framing and still is.
        If you research the political battles over the establishment of the big parks that preserve redwoods, the redwoods were a concession that allowed continued cutting of Douglas fir that were easily as magnificent as redwood. The main time of demand for redwood was passing, and the remaining old growth simply wasn’t going to last much longer if logging continued. Only a few corporate raiders were really pinched.

      • I had always heard that the moist air coming off of the Pacific was important to their health and ability to grow so large. There used to be extensive seasonal fog in areas along most of the coast all the way up until the mid 1970s. Then there was a decrease in the strength and duration of the fog belt for decades. At the beginning of this year my brother asked me if I remembered the old fog of the 1950/60s. I replied affirmative and he responded “well it’s back”. I remember fog where I couldn’t see the buildings across the street, and on occasion even heavier than that, in San Francisco.

  11. Clues as to what redwoods can withstand can be found in Florissant Fossil Beds in Colorado. Petrified redwoods from about 35 million years ago.

  12. not sure what the point of the article was-
    They have already established the important part-
    “They’ve done it before. Sequoias, the largest trees on the planet, have lived through a centuries-long dry spell in the last 1,200 years, according to the Tree Ring Laboratory at the University of Arizona”

  13. Someone should call michael mann and have him cut 50 of them down to measure the rings to see if it is drought or warming. It might help the proxies to have a larger database after all what’s a few giant sequoias compared to the catastrophe of a planet ~2 degrees warmer?

  14. Here in the Pacific North West we have no shortage of rainfall, yet evergreens routinely shed their older needles in favor of new growth. The reason is clearly not drought, it is sunlight.
    The older needles are shaded from the sunlight by new growth, such that it is more efficient for the trees to drop these needles as they are not producing any benefit to the tree.
    Carried to the extreme, we find trees like the Douglas Fir that drop old branches because they are not receiving sunlight. It is not unusual to find a 200 foot high tree bare of branches for the lower 150 feet.
    One of the logging hazards when felling trees is that the vibration of the chainsaw will shake lose a branch that is ready to drop. A 1000+ pound branch falling from 100+ feet can spoil your day.

    • A 10 pound branch falling a 100 feet would ruin your day. I worked in the woods in the 1970s. You learned to stay sharp as a logger. My hard hat took a few good knocks during those days.

  15. Browning of Evergreens
    Autumn Needle Shed
    The loss of older interior needles in the fall is a natural process, which is often confused with injury, disease or insects. This process usually goes unnoticed since the needles on the inside of the conifer are concealed by the foliage on the exterior of the tree. Leaf drop on evergreens usually takes place gradually, but there are occasions when many leaves will discolour simultaneously, and the tree or shrub may appear to be dying.
    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4144

  16. Climate science being what it is, finds it is more interesting to take one event from one species, in one region, in one selected time frame and come up with a plethora of generalized theories about anything or everything. In cognitive physcology, it is one of the ways we delude ourselves, the term for it I think is called over-generalization.

  17. “The brown needles on a 3,000-year-old tree are a smart response to drought, Stephenson said. ”
    So that means that during at least 3000 years there has been no dramatic climate change .

  18. From the article:
    he glanced upward and saw something startling.
    “The foliage had died back on a much larger sequoia above me. It makes sense, but it surprised me a little.”
    The brown needles on a 3,000-year-old tree are a smart response to drought, Stephenson said. The trees dump their old foliage when they get drought-stressed and focus on new growth.
    *************************************
    So which is it? If Stephenson knows that stressed trees dump old foliage, why was he “startled” and “surprised” when he saw it??

    • Stephenson saw what he expected, but when he was interviewed by a journalist some words were put into his mouth to give the puff piece some ‘colour’. Science by press release all over again.

    • He had to be startled, or be attacked by climate faithful. This way, the knowledge is is slipped into closed minds by being lubricated with a little “surprise.”

  19. more: Autumn Needle Shed
    “Any factors that increase stress on evergreens will intensify autumn needle drop. ”
    http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex4144
    ===
    Apparently the Alberta Department of Agriculture knows a lot more about evergreens shedding leaves than does the U.S. Geological Survey.
    “But at some point, he glanced upward and saw something startling.”
    Something that the Alberta department of Agriculture already knows and has documented. Apparently a bunch of ex-cowboys living in a place where trees barely grow, that make a living cleaning up the oil that spilled out of the mountains when the Rockies were formed, apparently they know a lot more about trees than the Yanks living to the south.
    That is what happens when you are spared the advantages of the “made in California” educational system.

  20. Do you remember the German Waldsterben-hysteria in the 1980’s?. It was the same effect: The climate hat grown drier, the tree crowns thinned out. In 1994 it was all over. The climate became wetter again, the crowns becamer denser, the forests survived and the country had only lost some billion D-Marks. It was much cheaper than the war on CO2.

    • I do remember that. What amazes me is that we think trees, some with a lifespan of up to a millennium have evolved to handle droughts. Evolution in fruit flies, with a lifespan measured in days, or bacteria, which produce new generations in hours or minutes, is quite comprehensible. But to live for 1 000 years, have droughts of perhaps 20 years, have die-offs and natural selection make incremental changes leading to strategies of drought resistance, requires an almost unimaginable length of time. Yet, go to California or Germany to look for these trees, and there they are.

    • Yes, I’m with you on that. It’s enough to give one a headache. But what do you expect, they are in California, they have to be “smart”. Everything is special in California. In fact, I think the whole state has special needs. But, then I go on. I’ve said enough.

  21. These trees have evolved to deal with this. They are drought resistant, fire-resistant, and the older trees even funnel nutrients and water to the young trees that they were surprised to see healthy. It’s business as usual for the redwoods.

  22. I live in the middle of a second growth Redwood forest in the coastal mountains of California near the bay area. None of the young trees are shedding any needles. The older ones (this area was logged about 125-150 years ago) have been shedding needles and even small sub branches. Overall though their health is fine and I have been amazed at the amount of young sprouts (clones) along the bases of the middle aged trees.

  23. “Scientists” “just noticed” “something you can find in a forty year old textbook.”
    Yay. College isn’t a waste of time!

  24. The company selling Subarus in the US has a magazine called Drive. The fall edition has an article by Jason Frye titled Goliaths From Another Age – Coast Redwoods.
    The opening line mentions “fog.”
    The 2nd page of the article mentions some of the things that grow on the trees up there in the fog, including huckleberries and a 40-foot western Hemlock.
    http://www.drive.subaru.com/fall14-redwoods.aspx

  25. Practically every giant sequoia currently alive survived two droughts of longer than 100 years. We haven’t really even had a “three year drought”, we have had three years of below “average” rainfall. That is not a drought. Years with below average rainfall are just as frequent as years with above average rainfall, Years of EXACTLY average rainfall are rare. Going back over hundreds of years, this “drought” is nothing. We had a six year drought in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s and every single one of those trees survived it.

  26. Another spin of observations to fit the human caused climate change belief system.
    Increasing CO2 helps plants to be more drought tolerant.
    http://buythetruth.wordpress.com/2009/06/13/photosynthesis-and-co2-enrichment/
    If you want a sneak peek of what CO2 will do to plants in the future, go to this link and view the data from hundreds of studies that show the effects of elevated CO2 on plants. Go to the “plant growth data base”
    http://www.co2science.org/data/data.php
    Photosynthesis:
    Sun + H2O + CO2 = Food/Sugars + O2
    Sun +H2O +(more)CO2 = (more)Food/Sugars +O2
    http://www.sjsu.edu/faculty/watkins/CO2plants.htm
    Amazing how the beneficial effect of CO2 to plants, can be twisted into causing the exact opposite using speculation. Who could deny photosynthesis and why would it not be included in any impartial/objective discussion related to plants/trees and increasing CO2?

    • A reduction in the number of stoma that need to be open all the time on the leaf CAN reduce the amount of moisture required by the plant by a small fraction.
      I’d point out that the plant producing more sugars is specious since the plant produces “as much sugar” as the sun allows in an environment that has CO2 above median availability. If you want to talk CO2 and Sunlight, just look up crop and sunlight data from maple syrup farming. An industry hundreds of years old with hundreds of years of records – some kept on a daily basis – might be interesting research for someone ACTUALLY interested in Climatology.

      • Small fraction? I saw a figure that up to 90% of plant moisture is lost via evapo-transpiration. The reduced stoma are very beneficial during periods when soil moisture is at critical levels, I understand.

  27. I believe Sequoias (not Redwoods which need moist growing conditions) require periodic dry periods for successful propagation of their seeds.

  28. So the Giant Sequoia is smart enough to *adapt* to changes in its environment by shedding high-maintenance/low-productivity foliage and maintaining only the more productive foliage that gets more sunlight. It would appear that the vegetation in California is more intelligent that the research ecologists.

  29. The subfamily Sequoioideae (consisting of giant sequoia, redwood, and metasequoia) has been around for at least 150 million years. They’re Jurassic. Dinosaurs used to munch on them, back when the Earth was 20+ degrees warmer.
    If anything has impacted the distribution of Sequoioideae, it has been the Pleistocene Ice Ages, global mega-cooling, continental glaciations, etc.
    Warmer is Better for sequoias.
    PS – a typical giant sequoia tree produces upwards of half a million viable seeds per year, which is bio-ironic since any organism that lives for 3,000 years is not all that desperate to reproduce. Some folks (call them what you wish) would like to see the ancient giants burned to the ground so that seedlings will thrive, but IMHO that is perverse idiocy.

    • Interesting, those metasequoias. Thought to have been extinct until a remnant population was found in Sichuan Province, China, in 1941. The “Dawn Redwood” is its common name. Well, we are about climate and the Dawn Redwood is germane because there are fossils of this tree from Ellsmere Island at near 80 N Latitude (!) from the Eocene. Consider this and you will come to understand that “we” _understand_ very little about climate and the processes that shape climate. CO2? Pffffttt!

  30. These trees are a good example of how Nature is much smarter and more adaptable than the Greenies would like to think. Nature does not depend on us, we depend on Nature.

  31. This year the Central and Southern Sierra got an abnormally high amount of precip from the SW Monsoon.

  32. “Scientific procedure” often reminds me of the blind men and the elephant. I could easily come up with “proof” that the area I live in (coastal mountains of northern California) is experiencing exceptional warming/cooling/drought/precipitation/decline of flora & fauna/increase in flora & fauna. Pick one. My response will depend upon the place, season, time of day and personal expectations.
    Today, for instance, I can confidently report that there is no drought in California, because looking out my window I can see that it is raining and there is water running in the gutter. However, the deer population has somehow drastically diminished in the last 24 hours, as there are none currently visible from where I stand, whereas yesterday I saw several throughout the day.
    I think that about sums up climate “science.”
    P.S. The coastal redwoods depend far more upon fog & dew than measurable precipitation. Otherwise they would have died out in this region long ago…

    • Go into a redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains in the middle of July and pitch a tent. You will hear a “tap … tap … tap” all night long of drops of condensation dripping off the leaves onto the tent.

  33. Has he never looked at the forest floor? Covered in needles. Sometimes very think. Where does he think they come from? Was there a drought then? Sigh.
    Sure, it may drop more in a drought. Or because they were old. Or shaded now. Or… Leaping to the idea this is an adaptation to Global Warming is perverse.

  34. Sadly, scores of thousands of individuals with graduate degrees in studies related to the issues are going to hang or hide their diplomas at home while they “mark time” in careers in retail and food services, as the “be useful” reality has to be faced.

  35. Sequoia are amazing! It is just utterly awesome that any single living thing can be three and a half thousand years old! Wow. The world is an amazing place, and anybody who thinks we know all there is to know about this planet is suffering from delusional arrogance.
    P.S. Note to my American Cousins – I am a First Nation Briton, a Gael, and I do not use the word awesome lightly #;-)

  36. We could easily end all droughts in the USA just by taking water from where it is plentiful and getting it to where it is needed. LA, New York city and Boston already get their water from many miles away so all we have to do is ramp that up.
    That will create jobs, which is something else the USA needs.

    • It’s all about cost. There will never be a shortage of water on Earth, just a shortage of cheap abundant clean water. Increasing energy costs will tend to make abundant and cheap water all the more a distant memory in many places.
      In CA, 25% of the cost of providing municipal water is in the cost of energy. Energy prices up, costs up. Delivering water over 3000 miles will cost more, much more. At some point, desalinization may make sense. Today it does not for most areas.
      There is a lot of area where efficiency can be increased. There are perhaps 5000 small rural water districts in CA serving less than 1000 homes. Most of these systems with multiple pumps do not monitor energy used per volume of water used. Often times, the most efficient pumps are not moving most of the water. And – most systems are demand based, and pump when tank or reservoir levels require water. Pumping intelligently, navigating around peak energy cost periods favors 13c/kWH over the 44c/kWh. The problem is that typical SCADA (supervisory control and data data acquisition) systems are too costly for the small water districts. Think $100K to $400K. I work with a technology that can achieve efficient pumping and monitoring, with remote control for 5 to 10% of the price of SCADA.

      • Yes, I am all for desalinization plants- good point I didn’t mention. Thank. As for energy I am thinking using wind and solar- keep it local.

      • Joe G:
        If you choose to use wind and solar, please do so. All you want.
        But do NOT require the rest of the working taxpayers to pay for your hobbies of wind and solar.
        Desalinization can be efective, but only in limited areas for what amounts to emergency supplies only. It is just too expensive to desal enough water to supply as many as wants fresh water. Cheap fresh water, that is.
        Now, when the public wants to spend enough for bath water by buying little plastic bottles at the store …
        Long distance, cross-country pipes pumping horizontally (no mountain ranges!) make sense only when water prices get to the $100.00 per barrel range.
        Now, they (city water prices) are are the order of cents per acre-foot: 25.00 per month per 1000 cubic feet.
        Or $25.00 per 2374 “barrels” of water.
        Or $0.0105 per barrel….
        Now, to pump “up” from the 900 foot elevation at Kansas up to the continental divide, then down to the Utah and Nevada desert basins, then “up” across the Sierra Nevada mountain ranges … That’s about the same distance and difficulty as building the transcontinental railroad …

      • To RACookPE: Please don’t dismiss wind and solar as viable alternatives to toxic fossil fuel and nuclear power sources. Had the former been subsidized as long and as heavily as the latter (thanks to the magnanimity of “working taxpayers”), renewable alternatives would be making full-scale contributions to our power supply by now.
        The key to sustainable and reliable energy—as reliable as anything can be on this volatile globe anyway—is to use what is most readily available for the least amount of cost and environmental damage on a region by region basis. In many areas that would mean more than one source. We have been heating our household water supply with solar panels for the last thirty years. Our unsubsidized-by-your-tax dollars “hobby” has saved us a heap of cash with very little maintenance. We are in a heavily wooded area without enough direct sunlight to keep photovoltaic cells charged, otherwise we would be using PV for all or part of our household electricity.
        Besides being indoctrinated into believing that alternative energy sources are inadequate for the task, our society is afflicted with the dogma that some distant central agency has the right to control our power supply. Yes, they do maintain “wind farms” and solar arrays, those unnatural industrial monocultures spread over hundreds of acres, but that is just another example of how government backed corporations “manage” natural resources and claim to be “green.” Do we really need or want Big Brother to control the source, delivery means, infrastructure and pricing of our energy? Like kept animals it’s easier—nothing to think about until the power goes out or the decaying (PG&E San Bruno) gas lines erupt…
        Sorry for the long post, but I am sick of hearing the false mantra “wind and solar can’t supply our society with enough energy” repeated ad nauseam. They can make a large contribution and without the danger of nuclear meltdowns!
        P.S. In regards to the elaborate and costly scheme of moving water from places of abundance to locales that have no business trying to support large urban populations—Los Angeles and Las Vegas come to mind—that has been the basis for wars and invasions for millennia. It is also the elaborate house of cards that southern California has been living in for the last century. If SoCal were forced to rely on its own locally sourced water exclusively, L.A. would become a ghost town in short order. There are more intelligent and less invasive ways to manage human habitation while maintaining a high quality of life.

  37. Dr. Paul Mackey October 21, 2014 at 12:46 am
    P.S. Note to my American Cousins – I am a First Nation Briton, a Gael, and I do not use the word awesome lightly #;-)

    I am of celtic origin too but that makes us the second nation since the ‘ancient britons’ were there before the celts. 😉

  38. to RACookPE- I was talking about using wind and solar locally to pump the water where it needs to go. The Romans used slaves, we have technology.

    • Marilynn,
      We have technology, and we h ave fossil fuels. So we don’t need slaves.
      To see what those are worth: put your car in neutral, shut off the engine, and then push it about twenty miles down the road. Then explain what a $4 gallon of gas is really worth.
      And alternative power doesn’t come close to the low cost and efficiency of fossil fuel power.

      • Yes dbstealey… that’s a good point. A well fed human can do about 1kWh a day worth of labor. Some states have energy as cheap at 9 cents per kWh, so for about a dime worth’s of energy per day, an entire human slave’s work can be replaced.
        Marilynn: You are dearly confused. Yes – solar hot water heating is fairly efficient. But you are way off base with your idea of subsidies. I don’t understand how people can be so fooled.
        A subsidy means something very specific. You have been duped into thinking a tax return is the same as a subsidy.
        For Solar companies, there all sorts of subsidies, for green energy:
        1) the Feed In Tarrif (that all rate payers chip in to subsidize the extra cost to utilities when they have buy the solar energy at higher rates).
        2) the 30% rebate check people get for buying solar.
        3) the money given to solar and wind power companies
        4) Green Loans and grants
        5) absolutely huge Carbon Credits
        But that you people call a tax write off a subsidy, shows you don’t understand what you are talking about. The write off lets the company get some of THE MONEY THEY EARNED back.
        Put another way, oil companies are not given other people’s money. Green companies are given other people’s money.
        The entire prosperity the US enjoyed could not have been possible without cheap abundant energy. Without the oil and fossil fuels you hate so much, we’d be a 3rd world country.
        It would have been impossible for people like you to have solar since it would not exist today without funding.

  39. Good grief, I guess I took a potshot at the god of fossil fuel and the devotees are irate.
    Please don’t insult me with comments like “you are dearly confused,” “you have been duped into thinking,” “fossil fuels you hate so much,” and “people like you” wouldn’t have solar. Do you really think I am that stupid?
    If you are not aware that the petroleum industry has been and continues to be subsidized, then YOU are the one who has been duped and I have nothing more to say. Ciao
    [Shakes her head and walks away…]

    • Definition of potshot. “a criticism, especially a random or unfounded one.”
      So you know your statement is unfounded. I am not the one who called you stupid. It seems that insult was self inflicted.
      I can see that argue quoting bumper sticker slogans. This tactic always leaves people irritated because they don’t understand the foundation of the slogans they spew. You do not seem to know what the word subsidy means as applied in business. I explained it to you, because I felt you made an unfounded statement. Then you came along and said as much.

  40. Marilynn in NorCal October 25, 2014 at 12:25 am:
    You say all sorts of things without having perspective. You wrote “Sorry for the long post, but I am sick of hearing the false mantra “wind and solar can’t supply our society with enough energy”
    Well, check out which two industrialized nations have the first and second highest electricity costs in the world.
    Denmark enjoys the number one highest electricity costs in the world. They also have the most wind turbines installed per capita.
    Germany has the second highest costs for electricity. They also have the most PV solar panels per capita. So guess what Germany, who used to be hailed as a model for all countries, is doing now to combat high electricity costs? They have been building many new coal plants. They also use brown coal which is dirtier than black coal.
    People have the opportunity to learn from very costly mistakes. So instead of getting irritated and sick, maybe you could learn that what you claim is IMPOSSIBLE. Maybe that’s what gets you saying unfounded things.

  41. Marilynn in NorCal October 25, 2014 at 12:25 am:
    ++++++++++
    You should know that Oil and Gas companies pay 43% of their revenue in total taxes. They pay about 25% of their revenue to the Federal government. The Federal corporate tax rate is 35%. So, instead of the full corporate tax rate of 35%, their deductions help reduce their burden to 25%. You call this a subsidy. In this case, they are getting some of THE MONEY THEY EARNED back.
    They are NOT subsidized (given other peoples’ money) as you said. You should know this before you blather on with pot-shots.
    Solar and Wind companies are given money taken from tax payers. They are a net drain on societies wealth. They guarantee higher energy prices. PV solar panels are toxic and will never be non toxic. There would be so much poison material in land fills if they were a significant source of electricity. And you would be screaming bloody murder when you had to freeze to death in the winter or sweat to death in the summer because you would not be able to afford the hugely expensive energy prices. More poor people would simply dies as a result of your unfounded advice.
    Attacking industries that are responsible for energizing our country with low cost abundant energy, with false or misleading statements is nasty. So I’ve come to give you some information. Don’t take my word for it, I assume you want to know truth. I gift it to you.

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