Saturday, February 14, 2009 6:04 PM
By: Lowell Ponte
The Golden State could become a desert wasteland, with no more winter salad greens from its parched Central Valley or wines from its withered Napa-Sonoma vineyards, before this century ends unless America takes drastic steps to slow global warming, warned U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
“We're looking at a scenario where there's no more agriculture in California,” Chu told The Los Angeles Times, adding, “I don't actually see how they can keep their cities going.”
Cities such as Los Angeles and San Diego could become sandstorm-blasted ghost towns, Chu seemed to be saying.
January had been unusually dry, the start of a third dry year in a row for California. But soon after Chu's interview, rain began falling. Rainstorm after rainstorm – an average of one every two days – rolled across and drenched much of the state. By Feb. 10, water-short San Diego had surged to 2 inches above its normal-to-date rainfall, and southland mountain ski lodges opened quickly.
This rain pattern continues, with huge storms expected to thicken the Northern Sierra snowpack that supplies much of California's water when it melts. The snowpack was only 61 percent of its usual thickness when Chu voiced concern about a drought.
The Chu Effect
“It's the Gore Effect,” says a laughing James Taylor, editor of the Heartland Institute think tank journal Environment & Climate News. “Almost every time global warming doomsayer Al Gore speaks or his movie is shown, unusual cold or blizzards happen. And now we have the Chu Effect. He warns of global warming-caused drought in California, and the heavens reply with almost nonstop rains. Maybe somebody up there is trying to tell us something.”
With little or no planetary warming since 1998, alarmists and climate opportunists point increasingly to brief regional droughts as second-hand evidence of global warming.
“It's amazing how many big-mouth global warming alarmists get media attention who were never trained as climatologists,” Patrick Michaels, a research professor of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia, tells Newsmax.
Chu is the latest example. He is a brilliant physicist who shared a 1997 Nobel Prize for his research into how to manipulate atoms with lasers. He has been director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology at the University of California Berkeley. But like most global warming doomsayers, Chu has no degree in atmospheric sciences, meteorology, or climatology.
Like many scientists eager to influence national policy, Chu became an outspoken activist in fields far from his expertise. He joined the Copenhagen Climate Council, a private collaboration between science and business to promote a 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in the Danish capital — and, it acknowledges, to use “emotional storytelling” about global warming.
Giving emotion more credence than concrete evidence worries other officials.
“I am hopeful Secretary Chu will take note of the real-world data, new studies, and the growing chorus of international scientists that question his climate claims,” says Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the ranking Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee. “Computer model predictions of the year 2100 are simply not evidence of a looming climate catastrophe.”
Among Chu's fellow council members preaching politicized science are Thomas Lovejoy, president of the H. John Heinz III Center for Science, Economics and Environment; doomsaying eccentric scientist and founder of Gaia theory James Lovelock; idealistic airline magnate and spaceflight privatizer Sir Richard Branson; and Copenhagen Climate Council President radical climate activist, author of “The Weather Changers;” and paleontologist Tim Flannery.
A few years ago, Chu was one of six Nobel laureate scientists (none climatologists) who posed sitting against a huge tree on the UC-Berkeley campus for a Vanity Fair photograph to show their concern about global warming.
To the consternation of some extreme leftists, Chu played a role in establishing the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) at UC-Berkeley, the Lawrence Berkeley Lab, and the University of Illinois — a far-ranging $500 million project researching alternative fuels funded by BP, formerly British Petroleum, a multinational corporation.
EBI investigates ways to use grasses instead of corn to make biofuel ethanol more efficiently with less environmental and economic impact.
Chu Dislikes Nuclear Power, Coal
Chu has been reluctant to embrace nuclear power, even though it emits no greenhouse gases, out of concerns with its waste and proliferation safety. He also finds problems with clean coal technologies, even though America's huge reserves make it “the Saudi Arabia of coal” and offer a clear path to energy independence.
“Coal is my worst nightmare,” says Chu, who describes the typical coal plant's radioactive fly-ash pollution as giving off 100 times more radiation than a nuclear plant.
As an adviser, Chu may have influenced candidate Barack Obama's Jan. 17, 2008, statement to the San Francisco Chronicle that he planned pollution taxes that would “bankrupt” anyone who tried to build a coal-powered plant.
And Chu is an early signatory to Project Steve, which advocates the teaching of Darwinian evolution. Its name may have been chosen to mock Bible-believing proponents of Intelligent Design and traditional marriage by evoking their slogan “God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.”
Will the West Run Dry?
“Is there more drought in America? Yes, but it has nothing to do with climate change,” University of Delaware and Delaware State Climatologist David Legates tells Newsmax.
“Averaged over wet and dry years, most places are getting roughly the same amount of precipitation they did in past decades,” Legates says. “Some recent regional dry spells appear to be caused by a Pacific Ocean cyclic phenomenon called La Niña. But because more people want and need water, we have demand-side 'drought.' ”
And Cato Institute environmental fellow Patrick Michaels tells Newsmax: “If anything, the 20th century was a bit wetter than average, and the Pacific Southwest continues to get slightly wetter.
“The latest research predicts that more global warming would make California drier in summer, when little or no rain falls anyway, but wetter in winter,” says Michaels, co-author of the 2009 book “Climate of Extremes: Global Warming Science They Don't Want You to Know.”
“Surely humans could adapt to that, store increased winter precipitation, develop drought-resistant crops, import water from H2O-rich Canada, or desalinate sea water along California's 800 mile coastline on the Pacific Ocean,” he says.
“This doomsayer idea that Californians would be helpless and do nothing innovative to protect their cities and crops from drought is ridiculous and an insult to the human mind and spirit,” Michaels says.
“The Obama administration is top-loaded with global warming extremists,” Michaels tells Newsmax, “and we're all going to pay a price for that.”
Man-Made Water Shortage
California once supported only a few thousand Native Americans but today sustains more than 36 million people because people built dams to store and aqueducts to redistribute water.
San Diego, for example, gets 60 percent of its water from the Rocky Mountains, where this season's snowpack is heavier than average, via the Colorado River.
Los Angeles gets most of its water from Northern California. L.A.'s biggest threat of water shortage comes not from drought but from Federal District Court Judge Oliver Wanger.
On Sept. 1, 2007, this judge put strict limits on the pumping of water each December to June from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River delta to protect a 3-inch-long endangered fish, the Delta Smelt. This ruling costs Southern California up to 30 percent of what used to be its California Aqueduct water each year. (President George H.W. Bush appointed Wanger a federal judge in 1991.)
Therefore, the global warming alarmists are strangely correct. Man causes much of the water shortage in large areas of California — and that man is a federal judge.
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