Questions about the Delta and global warming

Submitted: Sep 01, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We've assembled over the years enough articles on drought, California water and global warming to fill several books. Our aim was to inform and raise questions. As the drought grows worse -- news of larger forest fires and more dry wells -- lately the media seems to be trying to project a sense of perspective at this point. But they, and the politicians they quote and the scientists they paraphrase do not appear to be doing a very good job.

We wondered, for example, if it would destroy public confidence in the wisdom of The Interests  (finance, insurance and real estate) in California, if we dared to say global warming and the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the same sentence.

It ranks up there with the question of what Bernie Sanders is actually talking about to the multitudes as something never to be mentioned.

Yet, one Badlands editor began wondering about it all the same. If the climate scientists are as accurate about the 3-6-foot sea-level rise in the next century as they have been about the rest of their predictions, the Pacific will probably rise 6 feet in the next 50 years.

So, is it possible that Jerry Brown's corporatist Democratic Party's  twin tunnel approach to shipping fresh water from the Sacramento River to the north-south canals actually a practical idea to 1) save fresh water from salt intrusion, and 2) prevent some flooding by removing some fresh water from the Delta?

Or is water still just flowing uphill to money, in this case three-quarters of the Sacramento River water ending up in the salty fields of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley irrigated by Westlands Water District?

(The San Joaquin Valley tilts north to the Delta, as is shown by the northern direction of the San Joaquin River, as the Sacramento Valley flows south to the Delta, as shown by the southern direction of the Sacramento River. The Delta-Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct are engineered to flow south right next to the northward flowing river. Hence the expression: In California, water flows uphill to money.) A real miracle of the hydraulic engineers' art.

Another, wiser editor thought about this awhile and added some other questions. Why is the state building "temporary" rock, flow-through dams in the Delta to stop salt intrusion when rising seas make that a doomed project? Won't the water pumped out of the Delta into the southward canals just become saltier and saltier? Isn't the state simply adding the same fresh water later that is added without the tunnels? Won't the force of the inflowing salt water combined with the force of the outflowing river water quickly break down any such barriers?

If bond propositions for the tunnels fail, what will sea rise do to the existing Delta levee system?

How many communities in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Delta cities of Sacramento, Stockton, etc.,  and Southern California will be permanently under water in the coming decades? When will the population of California and its demand for fresh drinking water begin to decline due to sea rise?

Given that the governor may be acting wisely for the immediate future, when will the people of Southern California learn that there just isn't enough fresh water to go around anymore?

Also, given that at least Southern California pays for its drinking water unlike the highly subsidized irrigation water provided by the federal government to Westlands' huge farms (when there is sufficient Sierra runoff available), at what point would the public remove Westlands from its fully bought-and-paid for position as broker for northern water to the South? When the west side is so salted up that farming is impossible, while Westlands still has control of huge quantities of water (if drought is not permanent)?  When the federal Bureau of Reclamation comes to Jesus?

If our present plutocracy cannot conceive of any strategies for coping with global warming beyond funding propaganda campaigns to deny its existence, rename it "climate change," smear its proponents,  or buy politicians to overlook and undermine environmental law and regulation, while a few corporations are dispensing their non-profit arms to fund an eco-bourgeoisie -- naturalists, biologists, receptionists, secretaries, office managers, lawyers, fundraisers and lobbyists -- while everyone feels righteous, warm and fuzzy, well fed as they do their lords' work, how could we possibly imagine that government would be able to move fast enough to stop the catastrophes of global warming?

Won't sea rise claim the Delta, its farming, its towns and cities including the state capitol along with the entire rich and fashionable coastal towns and megalopolises?

Won't humanity come through in the end and stop global warming?

Russian and American submarine captains and crews are no doubt busy trying to answer that question now as they chase each other around under the Arctic ice. -- blj

 

 

 

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Ring around the nuts, the fruit and the tall, tall cotton

Submitted: Aug 25, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It is too easy to imagine that section of the Eighth Ring of Hell reserved for the lawyers representing California irrigation districts. The lawyers wander across the arid dunes constantly treading on their long tongues, cracked and bleeding. Yet agribusiness mouthpieces still mutter their favorite phrase: "achieving a reasonable balance."

Vultures from a large flock eternally wheeling overhead swoop down and rip the tongues from the lawyers' mouths. The rhetoric is cut short for awhile but only as long as it takes new tongues, like lizards' tails, to regrow.

Round and round it goes, coming around and going around.

-blj

 

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Are local bigshots hiding things again?

Submitted: Aug 23, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 There are a couple of simple quetions omitted from this story that might have made the resident of Merced interested or even concerned about the future of the proposed high speed railroad station that will gut the downtown area a little better informed.

1. Doesn't the reason for the ad hoc committee have less to do with "expertise," which was alleged subject of the discussion at the last Merced City Council meeting,. than with its lack of transparency?  So they spend several hundred thousand of some other governmental agency's money on consultants. So what? For years CH2MHill made more than a million dollars recycling essentially the same report of the state of our sewer system, mired in water-quality board cease and desist orders, for years. Did it stop the city from approving construction projects, even if they never got built?

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American taxpayers will bail out California agribusiness for how much?

Submitted: Aug 21, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The press is beginning to toss around figures of the billions lost by California agribusiness due to the drought. The current figure is $1.84 billion to agriculture alone, total costs around $2.74 billion.

Estimated losses to migrant labor are harder to find because los trabajadores internacionales migrate elsewhere in times of drought. Their "anecdotal information" is almost always more accurate than the professors, but they don't care about gross figures. If at all possible they will avoid becoming part of " the ripple effects to the entire economy." They aren't as tied to California real estate as a UC professor is, probably because they can't access UC's great low interest loan programs for professors and administrators.

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Some questions about land subsidence

Submitted: Aug 19, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Some questions from the center of the drought, where the towns are brown and orchards, vineyards and rowcrops are green:

 

How many people are really being economically injured by this drought?

How are will Farm Bill crop insurance programs and other government subsidies and disaster payments go to ease the pain?

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Overview of fire in California

Submitted: Aug 19, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

California firefighters say that they have never seen the forest so dry. "Explosive," is a word they use. And the worst part of the fire season hasn't yet begun.

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The balm of reason may sooth the chicken flock

Submitted: Aug 14, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Three perennial sources of American anxiety, The People's Republic of China, communism and money, have recently coalesced into an imaginary 10-foot, rabid fox menacing our flock.

Pepe Escobar offers soothing reason to dissolve the specter. He actually lives in Hong Kong and has been covering the politics and economy of the PRC for a number of years.-- blj

 

 

 

 

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Book of Kells is not Burger King

Submitted: Aug 12, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Transnational corporate management believes its own propaganda: that it rules the world. Since the quarterly bottom line is its only moral guide, and the pay for top management positions is soooooooooooooo good, Burger King executives can be excused for forgetting that there were life forms before Burger King and claims to glory somewhat different if not superior to the American fast food hamburger. Nevertheless, leave it to an island where the economy is not flourishing as well as it does in Burger King corporate offices to remind the latter that the history of the human spirit did not begin with Insta-Burger King in Jacksonville FL in Nineteen and Fifty-Three. -- blj

 

 

 

 

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Israel will teach us how to manage water

Submitted: Aug 11, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It was precisely because of this Israeli innovation that the governor, Jerry Brown, welcomed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to California in March 2014. During a ceremony in Silicon Valley, the two leaders signed a memorandum of understanding to foster cooperation and develop research with an emphasis on water conservation and management.

The memorandum calls on California and Israeli businesses, universities and laboratories to join together to find solutions to water scarcity. “Israel has demonstrated how efficient a country can be, and here is a great opportunity for collaboration,” Brown said.-- Madison Margolin, The Forward, July 2015

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The other climate in the Valley

Submitted: Aug 07, 2015
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 In the San Joaquin Valley of California, two climates intersect The first is a prolonged, serious drought. The other, less visible, is the new financial climate of RISK FREE AGRIBUSINESS, created by special interests in finance, insurance and real estate, ironically called FIRE. The most obvious manifestation of the intersection of these two climates is the manic drilling of ever deeper wells and the construction on on-site reservoirs by agribusiness firms while, simultaneously, the state provides emergency relief to rural residents whose wells have been sucked dry to irrigate orchards, vineyards and cotton.

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