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Nothing to do with climate change

11 Oct 2023 | OP ED Watch

The Canadian Press breathes a huge sigh of relief that “‘Miracle’ water year in California: Rain, snow put state’s reservoirs at 128% of historical average”. After years of climate-change-driven drought, and some climate-change-driven flooding, the Golden State got, of all things, some good weather. Just at random of course. Not due to global warming or boiling, climate change or breakdown, or well anything really. How strange.

The story mentioned that the rain is, instead of the usual curse of anything climate-driven, “a welcome boon to a state that has spent much of the past dozen years in a deep drought, forcing state leaders to grapple with how the state should share and manage its water in the future.” And it catalogued the relief due to refilling the reservoirs, putting an end at least for now to “water restrictions on homes and businesses and curtailed deliveries to farmers”, not to mention the threat to “already endangered species of fish, including salmon, that need cold water in the rivers to survive.”

At one point the journalist remembers that everything is awful, and notes that:

“The reservoirs were helped by a series of nine strong storms that hit California over the winter. Those storms carried so much rain and snow they were known as ‘atmospheric rivers.’ They caused widespread flooding throughout the state and were blamed for multiple deaths.”

But even with that tempting hook, there’s no reference to climate. No, really. The word does not appear once in the story. Not even when there’s cause for concern:

“State and federal officials will have to drain some of the reservoirs to make room for more water that’s expected to come this year. The state’s rainy season could be complicated by El Nino – the natural, temporary and occasional warming of part of the Pacific Ocean. El Nino affects weather patterns around the world. California typically gets more rain and snow during El Nino year. This year’s El Nino has a 56% chance to be considered strong and a 25% chance to reach supersized levels, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.”

Reinforced by climate change? Dangerous flooding due to man-made CO2? At least a bout of steamy heatstroke? Nope. Bupkis. The piece does venture that:

“The potential for more strong storms this year, particularly along the coast, ‘keeps me awake a little bit at night,’ said Gary Lippner, deputy director for flood management and dam safety with the California Department of Water Resources.”

But not a peep about climate. All climate news is bad, and this news is good, so it’s not climate news. (Unlike, say, the Guardian’s “Type of storm that drenched New York is up to 20% wetter due to climate crisis”.)

We do get one “climatologist”, in the following passage:

“The storms also dumped tons of snow on the mountains. The state snowpack on April 1 was 237% above its historical average. It’s just the fourth time since 1950 the state’s snowpack exceeded 200% of average, according to Michael Anderson, the state’s climatologist.”

And you know us at CDN. We’re thinking OK, if roughly once every 20 years the snowpack exceeds 200% of average, and if sometimes it’s dry and sometimes it’s wet, and often to excess either way, a case could be made that California weather is cyclical and drastic.

Oh, one more thing. Also good:

“All of the rain and snow this year could have played a part in what has so far been a smaller wildfire season. Wildfires exploded in size during the drought in part because of the super dry conditions. So far this year, just over 476 square miles (1,234 square kilometers) have burned in California. That’s well below the five year average of 2,031 square miles (5,260 square kilometers), according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.”

Cool. Of course we had somehow formed the impression that a lot of people, including many journalists, were convinced that climate change was causing more wildfires. And should California have a dry 2024, and more fires, we’re pretty sure even this particular writer (oddly not identified in the story) will be back to boo hoo man ignites and submerges planet. But for now California got a break, from bad weather and apparently from climate change as well.

Just as, incidentally, two hot days in Ottawa in September was definitely climate change, whereas a subsequent chill in time to spoil Canadian Thanksgiving was just “a breath of Arctic air”.

2 comments on “Nothing to do with climate change”

  1. ... the Guardian’s “Type of storm that drenched New York is up to 20% wetter due to climate crisis”.
    Now we know - climate change makes water wetter. Back in the good old days you could stand outside in the rain all day and only get slightly damp. Getting soaked by rain is an entirely new phenomenon.

  2. Back in the days when California preferred prosperity to pieties, they had plans to add significant reservoir capacity to secure agriculture and other such developments. They haven't added any capacity in decades and instead wasted many tens of billions on a high speed rail (to nowhere) boondoggle while dismantling existing dams. Next time they complain about their climate change induced droughts, give them the consideration deserved.

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