Our weather in Northern California is possibly even scarier. We’re now in our second extended period of record high, sunny weather since mid-December. It wasn’t much different than sunny and dry last month either. The Sierra snowpack that is our water lifeline is barely 60% of normal. This has been a long time coming. I remember when I moved here over 20 years ago, it was routine to ski over Thanksgiving break. Now it’s rare that you get enough snow to do much skiing until January.
The whole situation is compounded with greater population and aging infrastructure. Yes, GOP, there’s that word infrastructure. Our levees are second in decrepitude to New Orleans’. It would be nice putting some people to work fixing them. Not that our levees are going to break any time soon. More likely, lightning will strike somewhere in May and millions of acres of California will burn to a cinder. Okay, I know many of you will say, “Let California burn”, but you won’t be saying that when you see the price of food. Since we grow most of it, you better hope we get some rain soon. Already, Central California growers are scaling their crop plans back drastically to prepare for severe water rationing.
Let me spell it out for you, we get nearly 100% of our rain between November and February/March, with January usually the wettest month. In normal years, the rain buckets down like a monsoon. Then nada, nothing. Not a friggen drop for the rest of the year. So far, I can count on two fingers the number of real soaking rainstorms we’ve had this year. We are now facing what experts say will surely be a drought of unprecedented scale. Since we’re done with January, it’s almost too late to pray. The rain just isn’t going to come.
I’m not usually violent, but I have to pull myself out of the Red Zone when I hear someone pontificate about how it’s questionable whether we are experiencing Global Warming. Forget the psuedo-science and the people on the Bush payroll who told you otherwise. Just talk to a farmer. Here in California, all you hear is stories such as “Well, we used to grow a lot of [insert crop here] but now it’s too hot. We have to grow it as a winter crop. Soon we won’t be able to grow it at all.”
Surprisingly, Napa Valley is considered an environmental/agricultural hotspot, as in one of the “canaries in the coalmine” for Global Warming. With a climate already on the hottest end of what is acceptable for high-end Cabernet grapes, it’s predicted by many that in less than ten years, Napa’s climate will be too warm for these premium grapes. Sonoma is cooler, with access to some ocean breezes, but we’re next.
I’d ask you all to ship us some snow, if you think you’ve got too much of it. But perhaps a better solution would be to write your Congressman/woman or Senator — especially if they are Republicans. The time is long past to be quibbling about whether we are or aren’t experiencing Global Warming. We are. The earth is a churning mass of weather patterns. So as it gets increasingly hotter in California, it’s going to get colder and snowier and icier in places like the Midwest.
Some experts say the critical time, the last moment when we could have reversed Global Warming with relative ease was in the last decade. You know what happened then. Drill, Baby, Drill!
Let’s stop fiddling while Rome burns. Time to act.