Putting the life back in science fiction


Yet Another Brief Update
April 8, 2016, 4:52 pm
Filed under: climate change | Tags:

Just a couple of items.  I’m busy with a small consulting gig and with the latest excremental explosion from the Board of Forestry (google California Board of Forestry Vegetation Treatment Program.  Or on second thought, don’t), so I’m not thinking deep thoughts about the future at the moment.  Here are a couple of shallow thoughts as an amuse tête.One is that Onthepublicrecord has a new post about Year Five of the Drought: reality sinking in that’s worth reading, if you want to play spot the trend with California politics.  In a way, I’m sorry I haven’t been following Wisconsin environmental politics as closely, because they got flooded in an interesting inverse of what’s happened to California this winter. Oh yeah, that’s right, Walker and the republicans are in charge there.  That’s why I haven’t been paying attention.

The other trivial note is that I’ve noticed that how I perceive the weather is a matter of seeing what I believe, or more properly, letting what I hear and feel about temperature influence what I see around me.  If you pay attention to the light right now, it’s spring.  If you pay attention to the air temperature where I am, it feels like summer.  I’ve been subconsciously thinking that it’s been summer since February, due to the warmth.  According to some of the plants though, now is spring, and they’re responding to the warmth by growing faster.  Some plants responded to the heat and came up months early (that would be, most notably, tocalote, a star thistle, and tumbleweed), but most plants stayed with the schedule imposed by their response to light.  It’s made things a bit jumbled, really, with some plants early and some plants fast, but it shows what the future holds. So far, plants seem to be handling the heat okay.  It’s when they set seed and the next generation germinates that we’ll really know how things are changing.

Still, it’s an interesting contemplation, to realize how much the calendar in your heads, the words you hear the weather people say, and the clothes you wear affect how you see the world around you.  Until we learn to pay attention to the light and temperature separately, and less to memories that spring is supposed to be delightfully cool, I suspect we’ll misinterpret how the world is changing around this.

What have you been seeing?

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6 Comments so far
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Just checked the US drought monitor for Ca and it shows me that here in Alameda county we start at moderate drought along SF bay and heading east we step through the other drought levels, severe and extreme all the way up to exceptional on the western end of the county.
Here in the city of Alameda redwoods are suffering. Redwoods never grew here until people started planting them. I suppose they planted them because they were growing up in the Oakland hills just a few miles to the east. But in the Oakland hills, redwoods can intercept the fog and provide their own drip irrigation whereas here at sea level they are not tall enough to intercept the fog which seems to come in a a 1000 to 1500 feet.
In our back yard we had a camelia tree succumb to our reduced watering regime. And the ground cover in our front yard has suffered from reduced watering as well. Progressive home-owners have been pulling up their lawns and installing drought-tolerant plants surrounded by tree bark.
We’re hoping to get out to the Mojave preserve in about a week for some camping. I’ll be curious to see what the vegetation looks like this year compared to last year.

Comment by Wolfgang Brinck

I forgot to mention one other phenomenon which we suspect may be a consequence of the ongoing drought. A few houses down from us, the ground has been settling and there is now a depression in the road about a foot deep and about ten feet in circumference in the shape of an inverted cone. This is a private street, a cul de sac and so the homeowner has to pay for repairs but so far hasn’t had the sinking ground investigated. As a consequence, we can only speculate what has caused the ground under the street to subside, but drought is a possibility.

Comment by Wolfgang Brinck

Hmm. A sinkhole caused by a leaking pipe, perhaps?

Comment by Heteromeles

Yeah, more likely. My initial guess was some collapsed underground void such as a sewer pipe. Certainly drought related subsidence should be more generalized.
Which brings up the issue mentioned by onthepublicrecord of people sueing ground water pumpers for subsidence damage. Whom would you sue exactly with so many people pumping. I understand that until recently there wasn’t even any monitoring on who pumped how much.

Comment by Wolfgang Brinck

Well, if it’s a sewer pipe, you’d probably smell it by now. In any case, I’d suggest getting someone from public works to check on it ASAP. If it’s caused by a pipe under the road, it’s their problem. You might also want to rig some way to monitor it (for example, have a long rod with a yardstick perpendicular, so you can measure how much it drops day by day. If it starts dropping rapidly, probably putting up cones or some such would be nicer than letting someone get caught in the cave in. Unfortunately, these things really aren’t jokes.

Other boring safety information: if you smell gas around the hole, call the fire department, turn off all nearby pilot lights and evacuate the block.

Comment by Heteromeles

We’ve just had the snowiest April on record, which also had more snow than fell in the rest of the winter — not to mention two (small) ice storms. Tomorrow it’s shorts weather.

Weird weather, definitely.

Comment by Robert




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