DROUGHT MONITOR—IRRELEVANT.  FACTS—IRRELEVANT


I have been quiet about the depressing primary season.  I kept hoping, starry-eyed, that there would be an honest, thoughtful discussion about the many serious issues that face the country today.  Instead, when I did listen, I heard a litany of racism, xenophobia, simplistic solutions, and inane slogans.  An incredibly boorish, impolite, narcissistic man who doesn’t listen, talks over people, and screams without thinking has a high probability of becoming president, because his boorishness resonates with many.  The House Speaker  can work with Mr. Trump, and the other side is too busy squabbling to deal with the clear and present danger.  The boor is telling crowds what they want to hear, even if 85-95% is not true, according to fact checking.  Facts don’t matter much in America these days.  Repetition of lies wins.  How people look and sound is more important than what they have to say.  Tweets matter.  Nerdy stuff about water on a third-rate blog changes nothing.

The Republicans sowed the wind and the country is now reaping the whirlwind.  The nastiest people in the Party couldn’t stop Trump, and too many Democrats tend to stay home when they don’t get their way.  Or, worse, they decide purity matters and cast their vote for a perfect candidate who has no chance of getting elected.  How did McCarthy work out in 1968, Nader in 2000?

Worse, a third party candidate like Gary Johnson could siphon off enough votes to throw the election into the House, where the Republicans will pick the president.  I wonder how many have thought of that scenario.

If fewer than 540 people in Florida had changed their vote from Nader to Gore in 2000, we wouldn’t have elected Bush.  Had the Democrats united in 1968, Nixon’s secret plan to end the Vietnam War wouldn’t have occurred, I doubt there would have been the Christmas bombing, and we wouldn’t have had Watergate.  I am going to be “taught a lesson” by the purists: they will teach me what happens when the Republicans control the Court, Congress, and the country.  When we are at war, in debt from emergency authorizations, have destroyed public education, sold off the national parks, wildlife refuges, and the wilderness, and gutted safety standards, yes, they will have taught me a lesson.

When Medicare is privatized and Social Security is removed, I will survive.  When Roe vs. Wade is overturned, and birth control is made illegal, I will be asked for money.  I always am.  But few will listen to my ideas or thoughts.  Want my thoughts without reading further?  Unite and work to extend voting hours and days, push vote-by-mail, and get every last voter on our side out.  Every one.

OK, back to Mr. Trump, who said that there was no drought in California.  Oh, some were quick to say that California has to allocate water better and at the proper price.  But California is in drought. Not only is 86% of the state in D1-D4 categories, only 6% of the state is not in drought, and those 9000 sq mi are in the far northwestern part of the state.  A fifth of the state is in D4, exceptional drought.  Drought is about measurement and science, not about what one states.  Trump is dead wrong, but people believe him. He said it, people believe it, and that settles it.  California does have a water allocation problem, but that only exacerbates the 5 year drought that shows no signs of abating, after two other multiyear droughts since 2000.  Two of those years, San Francisco had zero and 0.01 inches rainfall in January, which had never occurred once, let alone two years in a row.

The economists who deal with California’s water problem invoke the market, but they don’t factor in the price of endangered species and are curiously silent about the quarter million homes and businesses in California that lack water meters.  The law mandating water meters doesn’t fully take place until 2025.  Not metering water is about as stupid as charging people $30 a month for gasoline and letting them use all they want.  Incredibly, Bakersfield and Fresno have actively resisted meters.  What century are they living in?

Because of groundwater use, the Central Valley is sinking: near Mendota, 9 meters, 29 feet, from 1925 to 1977.  Many places have sunk a meter between 2006 and 2010. This affects the canals, which must be repaired because of shifting.  Ground water pumping has changed the aquifer from deep to shallow, which gets more irrigation recharge with salts, making the water less useful.

Some crops are more water intensive than others, and as the climate changes, we need to change what is being grown.  Or, people like Tom Selleck may try to get truckloads of water from elsewhere hauled to their property.  Mr. Selleck got off cheaply for his “me first” approach, paying the P.I. (probably not Magnum, I would guess) who caught him $22,000.  He denies ever receiving letters telling him he was out of compliance.  Ignorance of the law is not justifiable, but he’s famous.

Trump is good at telling people what they want to hear, even if it flies in the face of science and common sense.   Sarah Palin at least admitted California needs water: she just thought it could be obtained from the ocean and placed in reservoirs.  Are the voters that dumb? One example.*

Trump could have been presidential:  he could have taken the high road and said  that we are now seeing the “new normal” of climate in the western US—higher temperatures, less rainfall, more extreme events— and offered solutions.  We need to meter water, for money drives use.  We need to harvest rainwater, not let all run into the ocean or evaporate.  We need to have better ability to fix leaks, be they in houses or canals.  We need to change our usage at home and regionally. Neither lawns nor golf courses belong in arid regions.  We need to consider desalination if it can be done safely and with renewable energy.  That is a tall order.  Mr. Trump could have said that climate is going to change what happens in California, and the citizens must start preparing for it.  Instead, he catered to what people want to hear: everything is fine, if only the Democrats, the environmentalists, and “Big Government” would get out of the way.

This is an election where the Democrats, environmentalists, and “Big Government” may all lose.

And this time, I won’t likely live to see the damage from another bad president get repaired.

 

*2006 AP polls showed that a majority of Americans were unable to name more than one of the protections guaranteed in the first Amendment of the Constitution — which include speech, assembly, religion, press and “redress of grievance.” Just 1 in 1000 could name all of these five freedoms. However, 22% were able to come up with the name of every member of the Simpson family.  Author’s note: I never once watched the show.

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