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Opening Arguments

Water, water

I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I noticed on Sunday that The Journal Gazette editorial page has jumped on the "poor Californians being whupped by climate change" bandwagon:

It’s tougher to pretend there’s no danger from climate change if you live in California, which is struggling under a historic drought. 

In the midst of the massive problems lack of water is causing, Gov. Jerry Brown is challenging his state to take the longer view and make improvements and sacrifices that might help reverse the earth’s environmental deterioration.

[. . .]

Evidence of climate change’s clear and current danger is everywhere in California, he said in his executive order, including “loss of snowpack, drought, sea level rise, more frequent and intense wildfires, heat waves, more severe smog, and harm to natural and working lands.”

No matter how ambitious its efforts, California alone won’t be able to reverse the effects of climate change. But environmentalists hope that the state’s example will help inspire other states and countries to action.  

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence,  are you listening?

Yes, by all means, Gov. Pence, let's adopt drastic, lifestyle-changing, economy-crushing measures here in this state with abundant water so we don't suffer the fate of California, which has twice as many people as  it can sustain and where they have massive farm production in a freakin' desert.

And let's not forget the economic roots of the problem, as Walter Williams reminds us:

Whenever there's a shortage of anything — whether it's water or seats at a baseball stadium — our first suspicion should be that the price is too low. California agriculture consumes about 80 percent of the state's delivered water, and it has been exempted from many of California's new restrictions. On top of that, agricultural water users pay a much lower price than residential users. In other words, California's farmers are being heavily subsidized.

[. . .]

Some of California's water conservation regulations are mindless. It is illegal for servers in bars, restaurants and cafeterias to serve water unless customers ask. The amount of water that people drink per day is a trivial part of total water consumption. Estimates vary, but each person consumes 80 to 100 gallons of water per day flushing toilets, bathing and for other residential purposes.

And let's not leave out the contributions of envirnomentalists:

During normal years, the state should replenish reservoirs. However, environmental regulations require that about 4.4 million acre-feet of water—enough to sustain 4.4 million families and irrigate one million acres of farmland—be diverted to ecological purposes. Even in dry years, hundreds of thousands of acre feet of runoff are flushed into San Francisco Bay to protect fish in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta.

During the last two winters amid the drought, regulators let more than 2.6 million acre-feet out into the bay. The reason: California lacked storage capacity north of the delta, and environmental rules restrict water pumping to reservoirs south. After heavy rains doused northern California this February, the State Water Resources Control Board dissipated tens of thousands of more acre-feet. Every smelt matters.

Yes, we need to be smarter about the way we use energy, and it's a good idea to weant ourselves off of fossil fuels. But let's not pretend Armageddon is just around the corner just to keep fueling the hysteria.

And don't be Gov. Brown, Mike. You've dropped  pretty low in the polls but, believe me, that would be a cure worse than the disease.