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Back to California

18 Jan 2023 | News Roundup

In our Jan. 11 Newsletter we mentioned first that the general tendency was to dismiss wintery storms including in California as just weather and second that California was in fact subject to extreme flooding and drought back in ’22… as in 1822, and throughout the 19th century, meaning it is fatuous to claim recent wet or dry conditions there are due to recent human activity. However it seems that in the last week or so the alarmists have regrouped and declared that what is happening in the sodden Golden state is definitely climate not weather, man-made not natural and therefore terrible and destructive not a welcome refilling of reservoirs after a dry spell. As they would.

The issue is the very trendy “atmospheric rivers” you never heard of until a year or so ago (but then neither had the IPCC) and that now flow everywhere due to bad old people and GHGs whereas previously rain came from the sky or clouds or whatever. Which is why California used to have disastrous flooding regularly and now does or something.

As late as January 9 the New York Times was just reporting bad storms as bad weather. But two days later it pulled itself together with:

“Extreme weather has plagued many parts of the country this fall and winter. But few places have been as ravaged by the changing climate these last weeks as California.”

And already by January 8 NBC with nimble originality had identified climate change as the culprit:

“Climate change has already made extreme precipitation in California twice as likely, with extreme weather predicted to generate 200% to 400% of surface runoff – rainwater that cannot be absorbed by soil – by the end of the century, according to research by the UCLA environment and sustainability department. Wade Crowfoot, the state secretary of natural resources, said at Sunday's news conference that January's weather has been ‘supercharged by climate change.’”

It is odd that something that will happen by the end of this century is already happening now, more proof of the time-traveling skills of climate alarmists. But also that anyone could look at the record of the mid-19th century (we remind you “severe floods in 1825, 1832, 1842, 1850-52, 1861-62, 1867-68, 1884 and 1886” including 46 inches of rain in January and February of 1852 alone, punctuated by drought) and conclude that it’s now a suspiciously round two times as likely. Assuming they knew the facts, or cared to.

It's also odd that warming would cause cold weather, or would be if you didn’t know that all effects of climate change are bad and all bad things are effects of climate change. On Jan. 9 NBC was still reporting that what was hitting was “Deadly winter weather.” Which it did blame on climate change. But pretty soon winter was out of the picture. And journalists know they think scientists say, so the New York Times story above, from Jan. 10, explained that:

“Extreme weather has plagued many parts of the country this fall and winter — deep freezes, hurricane-like blizzards, tornadoes, drastic temperature swings. But few places have been as savaged by the changing climate these last weeks as California.”

Yup, warming brings deep freezes, blizzards, tornadoes, rain, drought, heat, cold, frogs and locusts. It’s like the Bible without the cool prose.

Scientific American chimed in on Jan. 11 with:

“Why California Is Being Deluged by Atmospheric Rivers/ California has been hit by repeated storms fueled by torrents of moisture called atmospheric rivers that will only intensify in a warming climate”.

And yes, that would be the same Scientific American which now thinks “science” means stories like “The U.S. Could Help Solve Its Poverty Problem with a Universal Basic Income” instead of boring stuff about Boyle’s Law or orangutans’ diets or Uranus weirdly spinning on its side.

The herd of independent minds thundered on, with The Economist snobsplaining “What California’s deadly storms reveal about the state’s climate future”. Which is, of course, that “Climate change will intensify wet and dry periods in the Golden State”. So no more droughts like the one from 1862-65 that left a veritable cattle Golgotha, or floods like the one that turned the Sacramento Valley into an inland sea in 1850. No more 110 in the shade in LA in October (of 1859). No. Now the weather will become harsh and unstable.

This stuff has the power to cloud people’s minds. In the New York Times “The Morning” for January 12 Julie Bosman wrote, without missing a beat, that:

“California has a history of floods: In 1862, the governor-elect took a rowboat to his own inauguration because Sacramento was so deep in floodwaters. The intense storms now reflect, in part, a warming climate, which brings a heightened risk of storms that are more intense and destructive.”

Guess the next gov will need a submarine. That story also said:

“Many residents have little experience dealing with floodwaters, or have forgotten about how to deal with them because drought has been so persistent – a gap in knowledge that can be fatal.”

If only she had Google on her computer, since Wikipedia says “California experienced significant flooding events due to oceanic activity in 2005, 2014, 2017, 2022, and 2023.” Even with modern attention spans, 2017 isn’t that long ago. But wait. Aren’t the 2023 ones due to climate?

The New York Times did allow incautiously on Jan. 10 that in a state that had been suffering drought, rain did have advantages:

“There is at least one silver lining to the punishing storms that have been sweeping across the Pacific Ocean and battering California recently: The snow they have dumped in the Sierra Nevada will do wonders for the state’s beleaguered reservoirs. As of Tuesday, California’s mountain snowpack held more than twice the water content that would be there at this time in an average year, and was close to matching the April 1 average with more than two months still to go, according to the state’s Department of Water Resources.”

But no. All effects of climate change was bad so all the water will just run off.

Normally it wouldn’t, especially if the government saw alternating wet and dry conditions coming and made some effort to prepare. Yet by the 12th NBC had absolved the California government of any blame for terrible water management, except for apparently not believing its own climate rhetoric or failing to grasp its meaning, saying:

“California has been hammered with rain. It may not be enough to reverse its drought./ Much of the infrastructure to help alleviate California’s too-wet/too-dry cycles – its extensive reservoir system – was designed long before it was recognized that climate change could intensify droughts and storms.”

All on board the climate train now:

“’California is experiencing — coincidentally — both a drought emergency and a flood emergency,’ said Karla Nemeth, the director of the state Department of Water Resources, adding that she attributed the situation to the impacts of climate change.”

Which sure beats attributing it to the impacts of bad planning by um her own department. Which is plainly evident.

The story actually says that:

“California counts on a system of about 1,400 human-made surface reservoirs and thousands upon thousands of miles of levees to manage surface water. About two dozen large reservoirs are responsible for more than half of the overall storage. The reservoirs are designed not only to store water, but also to manage streamflows during the periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt so downstream communities don’t flood.”

Impressed? Don’t be. According to Jeffrey Mount, “a senior fellow at the Water Policy Center of the Public Policy Institute of California”:

“California would be a shell of itself if it was not for water storage. We wouldn’t exist here.”

Despite which, and California being so wealthy that if it were an independent country it would have the world’s 5th-largest economy:

“‘The vast majority of the water on the land is running off,’ Mount said. ‘There is no economically viable way to store it.’”

Blast that climate.

P.S. Ben Stein unkindly reminds readers of The American Spectator that “It was predicted for years that we in Sunny Cal were in for a Thousand Year Drought.” Alarmists did actually predict climate-driven flooding but only, as usual, after the flooding started. Thus in warning of yet more rain amid power outages, California governor Gavin Newsom:

“blamed climate change, which has boosted weather extremes, including intense storms, while raising the temperature slightly but crucially across the state. He said earth scientists probing the impact of global warming have long predicted such extreme and deadly winter weather.”

Aaaack. Winter is back.

P.P.S. An alert reader draws our attention to a comment, regrettably insisting that climate alarmism is a “hoax” not a classic piece of zealotry, that the New York Times blamed polar vortices on cooling in 1978 and on warming today.

5 comments on “Back to California”

  1. As a long time resident of California there are some things you only learn over time. Southern California is a desert that we turned into Palm Groves, Golf Courses and Orange Groves. And, naturally outdoor cinema filming. It is only verdant because we "stole" water from the Owens Valley and moved the Colorado River by Depression Era ingenuity. So that "climate" is far from natural and yet represents a kind of fictional standard. The Central Valley is another artificial construction. It produces rice and almonds and beef on a massive scale but only because of our aqueducts and pumping. It's primordial state was to flood in the Spring in the form of a large 800 mile basin filled with tall grasses and game. Summer is typically in the 90s plus. Insufferable without AC. Northern California is shrouded in fog along the coast much of the summer. The Pacific is not swimmer friendly. We are always in either a draught or flooded, because of ENSO and the 3-5 year cycles. We need more water containment systems, not less. We release 30 percent of our fresh water every year to maintain a fish that nobody cares about. We are constantly "at the limit" of our water supply because People, Pools, Wild Rivers, Ag, Food Industry, Tourism which want to grow, all need it.

  2. "It's also odd that warming would cause cold weather"
    Realists gave the high ground to the alarmist by allowing the rhetoric to become "climate change" instead of simply "global warming." This is the manner in which everything can be blamed on a constant that mankind obviously has some ( at least local) effect on. We need to remind everyone that the issue is global warming. Hence climate change AKA global warming, CC/GW, or just simply global warming should be used instead of the undeniable fact of climate change.
    Global warming requires real evidence that it is universally dangerous. An naturally ever changing climate of course has obvious dangers (beware the next glaciation.)

  3. I may be, out of ignorance or old age, incorrect about this, but didn't former governor Brown many years ago cancel a number of proposed reservoirs (flood control, water supply and hydropower) in California for fear that small fish in the delta would run out of water to live in? I'd say in the last few weeks that those fish had plenty of water to swim in while the most precious commodity in that desert region was allowed to flow unabated into the Pacific. Remember, weather is defined by varying conditions over weeks, months and years while climate is defined by conditions occurring over decades and centuries; floods this week and droughts next month isn't climate, its variable weather.

  4. P.P.S.: Saying that climate science must be either sincere zealotry or a hoax is a false dichotomy. Climate science is vast field; it can contain multitudes. Some of it is neither zealotry nor hoax; it is actually good science: CDN summarizes some of this as a regular feature in the final segment each week. Some is zealotry employing motivated reasoning. And some is plain old hucksterism. A hoax is defined as a "humourous or malicious deception." If CDN is of the view that the climate industry contains zero deception aimed at stoking fear, for nefarious ends or self-aggrandizement, then CDN is not looking hard enough. The deliberate deception being perpetrated by the climate industry on the public, "for their own good," is arguably greater than the sincere zealotry. See my remarks to the previous column.

  5. The easiest thing to predict is that ANY extreme weather event will be blamed on climate change. I live in California and from the first appearance of storm/flood issues I knew climate would be the culprit. Rick W Kargaard is right to say that we must return to calling the supposed problem "global warming" rather than "climate change." The former does not preclude us from developing falsifiable hypotheses that can be tested. The latter can be twisted to support any and all claims of climate evils. The former is science, the latter is not. The next step then is to educate journalists and bureaucrats on the difference--if for no other reason than that we can then loudly and publicly call BS when they spout claims unsupported by science, since we'll know they don't do so by ignorance or accident.

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