Musings about climate change, water, and society
Matt Weiser has become the Sacramento Bee's go-to guy for detailed coverage of water and environmental concerns. His growing corpus now includes an article on the proposed Delta water diversion project from the perspective of SoCal water users. Sunday's edition also included an opinion by editor Joyce Terhaar on the rationale underlying the Sacramento Bee's reporting on water issues.
US District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill ruled yesterday that water must be released from the Trinity Reservoir to prevent a salmon kill in the lower Klamath River. His ruling responded to a suit by San Joaquin Valley water interests to halt the releases to increase water available for agricultural irrigation via the Central Valley Project.
Judge O'Neill wrote,
"the flow augmentation releases are designed to prevent a potentially serious fish die off from impacting salmon populations entering the Klamath River estuary. There is no dispute and the record clearly reflects that the 2002 fish kill had severe impacts on commercial fishing interests, tribal fishing rights, and the ecology, and that another fish kill would likely have similar impacts."
However, he also ruled that because of the delay of water releases and recent change in environmental conditions, the amount of water needed to preserve the health of the fish had fallen by two thirds.
Environmental advocates, fishing interest groups, and tribal representatives hailed the ruling for its benefit to salmon populations and the economic well-being of the north coast. Representatives of the plaintiffs, the San Luis and Delta-Mendota Water Authorities and Westlands Water District, lauded the reduction in water to be released.
Judge O'Neill concluded,
"Both sides of this dispute represent significant public interests. ...the federal government has invested large sums of money into the restoration of the fisheries in question. Yet, it is equally true that the government has and continues to invest in the long-term viability of agriculture in the Central Valley. Neither side holds veto power over the other. Nevertheless, on balance, considering the significantly lower volume of water now projected to be involved and the potential and enormous risk to the fishery of doing nothing, the Court finds it in the public interest to permit the augmentation to proceed."
Former Secretaries of the Interior Whitman (under GW Bush), Reilly (GHW Bush), Thomas (Reagan), and Ruckelshaus (Nixon) wrote an op-ed published in today's New York Times.
"Climate change puts all our progress and our successes at risk. If we could articulate one framework for successful governance, perhaps it should be this: When confronted by a problem, deal with it. Look at the facts, cut through the extraneous, devise a workable solution and get it done.
"We can have both a strong economy and a livable climate. All parties know that we need both. The rest of the discussion is either detail, which we can resolve, or purposeful delay, which we should not tolerate.
"Mr. Obama’s plan is just a start. More will be required. But we must continue efforts to reduce the climate-altering pollutants that threaten our planet. The only uncertainty about our warming world is how bad the changes will get, and how soon. What is most clear is that there is no time to waste."
Worth a read!
We're thrilled to have published a summary of the first annual CCWAS "State of the Science and Policy" workshop in Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union. The workshop was very useful for us in generating and focusing research ideas and approaches, and based on feedback, it was also productive for participants. We're optimistic about future iterations of the workshop and excited to see how it evolves. If don't have access to Eos and would like a full copy of the summary, feel free to email me (malevy@...).
Remember Harry Potter's new improved broom, the Nimbus 2000? The one with the curvy bits where an ordinary household broom is straight? Imagine that handle grafted onto a hockey stick.
What does that have to do with climate change? A recent analysis published in the journal Science examined reconstructions of climate data back 11,000 years. The resulting graph of temperature anomalies through time looks sort of like Harry Potter's broom merged with the hockey stick. Sort of.
What this means: although some past climates may have been warmer than the current one, the today's speed of change has no precedent. That is, our climate has warmed faster in the past 100 years than previous climates over a 4,000 year period.