An unbalanced era

Submitted: Apr 17, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 President Barack Obama recently visited our Central Valley and blamed our meteorological drought on global warming. Has radical environmentalism gone wild, or is this a leftist political agenda being pursued under the frauds of drought, global warming and Delta smelt? – John Michelena, Modesto Bee, April 15, 2014

Although far be it from the Badlands Journal editorial board to judge intemperate utterances of any kind, we’re not sure if Michelena is playing with a full deck, as sincere no doubt as his outrage is over the drought.

He doesn’t seem to either pray for rain or blame God for drought, thus showing good farmer sense. Arguing with God about the climate is one agricultural practice genuinely guaranteed to produce insanity. Although, there is that exceptional story they used to tell in Watsonville about the Slavonian farmer near Dubrovnik who was so angry about a drought that – instead of finding somebody to beat up --  he shot at God with a shotgun and caused such a hullabaloo of echoing in the surrounding hills that the clouds starting dropping rain.

Maybe the next best  thing to beating someone up or shooting at God is to unload your grievance in the newspaper. Or, if your grievance is large enough, become a "community columnist" for one of Ma McClatchy's local outlets.  After all, according to the story,  the neighbors of the shooter of God back there in the Old Country was insane until the rain came. After that he was hailed as a hero and today the government has cannons in the mountains to provoke rain.

We agree with Michelena about Obama’s statement if he is saying that “droughts happen, have happened and will happen in the San Joaquin Valley.” We would also agree with his general critique of government trying to manage resources, including trying to protect highly endangered species like the Delta Smelt. 30 years ago it was the Spotted Owl, 10 years ago it was the Fairy Shrimp. But there are so many others and the list keeps growing: ground nesting birds, insectivores, the Honey Bee, to name a few.

But his argument implies – or at least seems to imply – that there is some natural balance, that things would improve if the government got out of the business of managing natural resources.  

There is no natural balance left but Michelena knows it. He’s just another westside whiner who wants it all, right now, period, and screw the rest of the world. And he speaks for a community who has had it all -- from subsidized water through subsidized crops through low interest loans to farm disaster payments to property-tax exemptions.

Maybe, the more you spoil them the stupider they get? And that may be hard to do with a man probably related somehow to Kolda Mitxelena, the prominent Basque linguist of the last century. 

 He says the average amount of rainfall in Northern California is 50 inches. That is absolute horse pucky unless his definition of Northern California is the mythical State of Jefferson with nothing south of it. He’s getting his figures from some demented irrigation district telling tales to their customers.

Just recently, there was a perilous stand-off between a Nevada cattle rancher and the Bureau of Land Management because of a desert tortoise. Do you ever wonder how many human lives and businesses are ruined by the environmental lies of government? Do humans have less dignity than animals and fish?

We loved this one and by chance were just talking to a Nevada cowboy about it. He said the ranchers aren’t concerned about the tortoises which cohabit quite well with cows. According to pickup-tailgate scutterbutt, the problem is that US Sen. Harry Reid wants to lease the grazing land to solar corporations. The cowboy reminded us that arrays of solar panels are harmful to tortoises. And as far as comparative dignity goes, how would the community columnist compare an alley cat to a US senator?

But we see a disturbing reality with data from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, particularly when comparing the second driest period of October-March 1977 to October-March 2014.

We environmentalists also see a “disturbing reality” in the difference between 1977 and 2014. Almond acreage has increased from 50,000 acres in 1982 to 311,000 in 2011 (Almond Almanac).  Grape acreage has gone from 331, 700 acres in 1988 to an estimated 546,000 in 2012 (Wine Institute). By this time that is considerably more than 575,000 acres in the two most popular permanent crops that must be irrigated to some extent this year – that were not present in 1977  to keep them alive. And this figure is an underestimate if you consider how many acres of almond orchards and vineyards were removed for urban development during the Big Bubble.

But, from a westside grower’s point of view, we guess, there’s liars, damn liars, and environmentalists’ statistics. -- blj

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

John Michelena: We got the rain, so where’s the water?

BY JOHN MICHELENA

columns@modbee.comApril 15, 2014 

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2014/04/15/3602828/john-michelena-we-got-the-rain.html?sp=/99/177/

I have mixed feelings when I see those blue “Pray for Rain” signs along our country roads. Though I thank the Almighty for sending rain, I think our state and federal governments have been lying to us about California’s drought and water.

Through early February, Northern California was on course to receiving its worst rainfall since the 17.1 inches it got in 1923-24, according to the Northern Sierra Precipitation: 8-Station Index. The second-driest period on record was 1976-77 with 19.0 inches. Then in February and March, we had a convincing answer to our prayers, when late rains brought 26.6 inches by April 4 – which typically ends the rainy season. The average from 1922-98 was 50.0 inches.

This northern part of the state is vital because it feeds the mighty Sacramento River, which provides some 74 percent of the water flowing into our Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, with 16 percent coming from the San Joaquin River and 10 percent from Eastside tributaries and Delta precipitation. This northern Sierra water has historically been used by thousands of farmers to grow food above and below the Delta, as well as on Delta islands in the middle.

Our largest reservoirs – Shasta, Oroville and Folsom – are strategically located there, as previous state and federal governments rightly saw the value of capturing Sacramento River water rather than allowing it to flow unimpeded to the sea.

But we see a disturbing reality with data from the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority, particularly when comparing the second driest period of October-March 1977 to October-March 2014.

The current water storage is considerably better than in 1977 but water releases have increased only slightly. The Delta water inflows have also increased, but the Delta water outflows that go to the ocean (about 82 percent of inflows) have almost doubled from what was released in 1977.

The most alarming fact is that Total Contractor Allocations (for farms) have declined from 1.65 million acre-feet in 1977 to 464,000 acre-feet in 2014 – which is about only one-third as much water as was sent to agriculture some 37 years ago during California’s second-worst drought.

Total exports of water have also declined from 1.62 million acre-feet in 1977 to 1.09 million acre-feet in 2014, which might indicate that more water is sent to Southern California than to agriculture south of the Delta. These numbers are inexplicable. In 1977, the State Water Project had water allocations of 40 percent and the Central Valley Project had 25 percent allocations, compared with 0 percent water allocations from state and federal programs for 2014.

President Barack Obama recently visited our Central Valley and blamed our meteorological drought on global warming. Has radical environmentalism gone wild, or is this a leftist political agenda being pursued under the frauds of drought, global warming and Delta smelt?

Just recently, there was a perilous stand-off between a Nevada cattle rancher and the Bureau of Land Management because of a desert tortoise. Do you ever wonder how many human lives and businesses are ruined by the environmental lies of government? Do humans have less dignity than animals and fish?

I have advocated the building of more water storage, but that was assuming that honest people would be managing California’s water. Meanwhile, this drought deception is taking us to the cleaners.

Michelena is a West Side grower and community columnist.



 

| »

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Copy the characters (respecting upper/lower case) from the image.

To manage site Login