Weather in Unpredictable Times
From drought to flooding, California’s current water identity is the involuted proof of a now-significant unpredictability: models (meteorological, biological, oceanographic) made meaningless by global warming.Concurrent droughts in the developing world receive faint coverage, though the their impact (in terms of property loss, human life, biological damage) is, at least, as significant as that of California. Distinguishing the state from other regions is the truly vast network of aging pipes, canals, and dams constructed pre-global warming. This infrastructure was built to develop an already-dry state; now, schizophrenically, the region appears set to alternate between extremes, as moderation loses its normalcy.
Whereas the desirable solution to outlier years is weather counter-balancing (compensating), the delicate see-saw of climate malfunctions when the either structure or participants change. In truth, both facets have changed demonstrably: first, a century of rapid population increase and unsustainable water withdrawals; second, transmogrified weather patterns. Human needs predicated upon reliable weather have shifted the underpinning fulcrum of the weather see-saw towards climate and away from humans: in this re-balancing, humans are more than ever affected by even the smallest changes in climate.
Therefore, recent California rain is not a new normal – ‘normal’ is an inchoate question, not answer. Evidence demonstrates the fundamental assumptions of previous environmental planning have become delusions in the face of global warming. But without set models, rigid responses will fail. A levee can only withhold a certain quantity of water. And so infrastructure must be built in a flexible manner to accommodate complete pendulum swings in weather, as the once-a-century flood and once-a-millennium drought normalize and the every-year-rain becomes foreign.
[Photo: “Hoover Dam”, Creative Commons Image]