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Blog Action Day-Water

The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is water. Bloggers will be contributing many different insights on the serious issue of access to water. For California, the issue of water is strongly connected to the topic of last year’s Blog Action Day, Climate Change. Water has driven the state’s politics for many decades. The North and South have fought over access to it, most notably through the proposal to build a peripheral canal through the San Joaquin Delta. Now climate change introduces more uncertainty in the future of fresh water for the state. That supply has always been tight as we have faced years of drought, along with increased population.

We are already seeing the evidence of climate change in California as the result of global warming. Winters are getting milder. Summers are experiencing more severe heat waves, especially in Southern California. Los Angeles recently hit 116 degrees for the first time in its history of recorded temperatures.

What does that mean for our supply of fresh water? Much of that water starts in the Sierra Nevada mountains. It accumulates in those mountains as snow in the winter. Then in spring and summer, that snow melts down to provide our cities and farms with the water they need when it is needed most. So what do warmer winters do to that water supply? They mean an early snow melt and runoff that would leave the state dry during the late summer and fall when there is little or no rainfall to fill our buckets. That means we will need to catch and hold that runoff in more reservoirs to keep it from flowing into the ocean. Or we will have to live with less. We will probably have to do both. We are already challenged to finance repairs for the deteriorating levy system in the San Joaquin Delta. Building more dams and reservoirs will not be cheap.

Climate change will have a big impact on California, especially on our supply of water. This will naturally have a big impact on our economy. Prolonged drought would be devastating to agriculture. Diverting water from rivers will decimate our fishing industry. Higher water bills will place a burden on consumers.  Drier vegetation will fuel larger brush fires which will then pump more carbon into the atmosphere.

In 2006, California enacted the nation’s strongest climate change law. That law is now being challenged by Proposition 23. The proponents of Proposition 23 argue that we can’t afford the expense of protecting the climate and reducing our carbon emissions. They want to put the law on hold until the rate of unemployment drops below 5.5% for an entire year. Their argument that sets jobs and the economy against the environment is a false one. In reality, climate change is the real threat to jobs and the economy. Reducing our carbon emissions will not be cheap, but doing nothing will cost us even more. It could deprive us of one of our most valuable commodities, clean water. California voters should reject Proposition 23.

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October 15, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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