Cool Water

Wikimedia

Wikimedia

All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water,
Cool water.
Old Dan and I with throats burned dry and souls that cry for water,
Cool water.

The night are cool and I’m a fool each star’s a pool of water,
Cool water.
But with the dawn I’ll wake and yawn and carry on to water,
Cool water.

Keep a movin’ Dan, don’t you listen to him Dan, he’s a devil not a man
and he spreads the burnin’ sand with water.
Dan can’t you see that big green tree where the waters runnin’ free
and it’s waiting there for me and you.
Water, cool water.

The shadows sway and seem to say tonight we pray for water,
Cool water.
And way up there He’ll hear our prayer and show us where there’s water,
Cool Water.

Dan’s feet are sore he’s yearning for just one thing more than water,
Cool water.
Like me, I guess, he’d like to rest where there’s no quest for water,
Cool water.

Bob Nolan

California has an official song. It’s called I Love You California. It might be time to retire the pretty little thing and switch to Cool Water, a song that’s been notably covered by artists as diverse as Hank Williams and Joni Mitchell.

California is in trouble. It’s perennial governor, Jerry Brown, has managed to wrestle its finances into shape for the first time in years,  but the state’s weather outlook is also sunny – too sunny. Temperatures aren’t just unseasonably high across the state, they are setting records, bringing summer into the depths of winter.

Along with the record setting heat has come a record setting drought. 2013 was the driest year in California history. Faced with drastically reduced water reserves and a snow pack only 20% of normal, Governor Brown declared a drought emergency across the state. According to Brown, the state’s reservoirs are critically low and cities across the state have already begun rationing water. He wants the state’s residents to cut back water consumption by 20%. So far, the conservation efforts are voluntary. We’ll see how long that lasts before mandatory cutbacks are put into place.

I’m sure there will be some griping about brown lawns, but the shady groves of Beverly Hills will probably be unaffected. (I’ve noticed over the years that whatever the drought conditions, the water in Beverly Hills’ verdant gardens always flows with abandon.) But the statewide water shortage is no trivial matter. California feeds the nation. Without adequate water supplies, its $45 billion farm economy is at risk. Already the local cattle business is feeling uncomfortably pinched.   Almonds, tomato, lettuce and avocado crops are also in danger of wilting away.

A graphic illustration of just how radically low California’s reserves are comes to us complements of some high school students in Bishop, California. Those enterprising souls have been launching big helium balloons up into the stratosphere for three years. Among other things, they’ve captured images of the snow pack in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Comparing the amounts of snow now on the peaks with last year’s snow pack is sobering. “We had a flight almost exactly a year ago, and at that time the mountains were almost completely covered in snow,” said one of the students. “In the recent images very few mountains were covered with snow. We knew we were in a drought, but it wasn’t clear to us before we saw the pictures how bad it is.” Another added, “Given that last year was also a low snow year, it is very disconcerting.”

So, California is experiencing both record heat and record drought. To get a taste of what that particular combination can bring, cast your eyes past the equator to Australia, which is struggling through a similar double-whammy. It’s not a pretty picture.

I’ll leave it to you to decide if the experiences in California and Australia are anecdotes or data.

One response to this post.

  1. […] the whoppers that blanketed the eastern seaboard are two anecdotes about the climate. California’s record heat and drought are also  anecdotes. Here’s another from the great frozen north: […]

    Reply

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