Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Delta smelt and Jerry Brown largely to blame for California wildfires.

And while we are at it - let's also blame George Bush. I'm tired of people trying to gain political points right now. I've been sitting in smoke for 30 days with one mile visibility for the last week.  There is enough blame to go around. Every Californian is to blame. Except for me because I'm not some immature baby that thinks trimming trees leads to the end of civilization,

Listening to Gavin Newsom blame climate change for the fires is infuriating. Their own failed environmental efforts are the reason we are sitting on record fire fuel.

The minnow wars of 2015 are just a vague memory at this point, but it set the stage for what California is experiencing right now. You see, Jerry Brown decided he had to save these tiny minnows at the expense of the entire State. Water was allowed to flow to the ocean to save these tiny fish. Then we went through a savage drought where Jerry Brown said - these minnows are more important than food for people. He kept flushing water to the ocean. It was well documented at the time.

"Giant pumps near Tracy funnel Delta water to 25 million people in Southern California and the Bay Area. They also send water to 3 million acres of San Joaquin Valley farmland.

To protect smelt from getting sucked into the pumps, they often get throttled back or shut off altogether. As a result, water earmarked for the south state flows out to the Pacific Ocean, outraging farmers and other water users. Pumping also alters the Delta smelt's habitat.


Gov. Jerry Brown has made the smelt's survival a talking point in his crusade for the controversial Delta tunnels project, which he says would help the fish while stabilizing declining water deliveries. "
Source.

So naturally a lot more trees died than should have. Everyone knew this was a problem. EVERYONE! Read:

California has 66 million dead trees but nowhere to put the wood.

“A lot of these trees are sitting alongside the road because there’s not a place for them to go,” said Len Nielson, the lead forester in Mariposa County for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire, as he made his rounds surveying tree-cutting efforts on a recent day.

While Nielson and others acknowledge that allowing downed wood to pile up is anything but ideal during fire season, it’s better than leaving vast stands of dead trees that could feed an inferno. Fire officials hope to eventually move the debris, but areas like Mariposa County — despite its lumberjack-themed tourist towns and shops with names like Lucky Logger — no longer support a timber trade to process the wood.


“We don’t have a logging industry anymore,” Nielson said, motioning from his truck toward an old sawmill that’s now just a lumber yard."



Read more here: https://www.sacbee.com/news/california/water-and-drought/article212342719.html#storylink=c
Right before Jerry Brown left office he directed that these dead trees be harvested. But there were so many dead trees, cutting them actually became more of a hazard because we couldn't process them due to NAFTA hollowing out our timber industry. So all those dead harvested trees would just sit around which is also a fire hazard. Why cut them if you can't process them?

Also read:  Lessons from California’s 2012–2016 Drought

"California’s 5-year drought has ended, even as its aftermath lingers. From 2012–2016 much or all of California was under severe drought conditions, with greatly diminished precipitation, snowpack, and streamflow and higher temperatures. Water shortages to forests, aquatic ecosystems, hydroelectric power plants, rural drinking water supplies, agriculture, and cities caused billions of dollars in economic losses, killed millions of forest trees, brought several fish species closer to extinction, and caused inconvenience and some expense to millions of households and businesses."

Fire is a needed part of nature. It kills bark beetles and other pests and funguses. What is not natural is forests that don't burn and pile up debris. Which is what we have now. For example, Big Basin hadn't had a control burn in THREE YEARS!

Top scientist knew Big Basin was at risk for a catastrophic fire, cried over it in a 2019 podcast.

12 comments:

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

So ... NVIDIA, ARM Holdings, SoftBank, Masayoshi the Enabler ...

I'm hoping the UK Government blocks the deal, and not for reasons you'd think would be obvious.

As long as there's just one reasonably up-to-date processor available to the Chinese, they won't be pushing to develop their own.

The last thing we need to worry about is actual Chinese spy chips and not those silly little "grains of black rice" that some stupid journalists tried to sell people on as being that kind of thing.

While Trump's supporters may think this is a great thing to happen, it actually forces the Chinese to become more serious competitors over the long run.

But the obvious reason? This very much complicates real market neutrality.

So very much not interested in changing CPUs and designs now.

So very much completely interested in doing another mass stock-up of CPUs and assembly components now, although it's not my decision this time.

Newly purchased prototype systems are just toys for the engineers to play with now, at least if we don't try to make some kind of mobile device.

Following this, I could see the Chinese deciding they should take some existing processor design and tweak the crap out of it like Google did to the Mozilla code base to produce Chrome.

Imagine "MobileSPARC 12" being an actual worthy competitor.

Imagine the CPU design being a license-free download on the Internet that any foundry could build, tweak, etc.

Also, yeah, there are plenty of reasons to blame George "Papa Doc" Bush as well as Bush The Younger.

But this thing you wrote about?

"To protect smelt from getting sucked into the pumps, they often get throttled back or shut off altogether. As a result, water earmarked for the south state flows out to the Pacific Ocean, outraging farmers and other water users."

The stated reason and the real reason are very different: what they're doing protects the politically connected water barons of California.

This keeps Los Angeles and its surrounding counties completely at the mercy of Sacramento and the Bay Area as well as completely profitable.

While I was in the US, I had something I wouldn't call an addiction as much as a strong brand preference, which was a brand of stevia-sweetened soft drinks made in Los Angeles. Because of the water barons, the distance involved in shipping, and so on, typical retail prices in Florida were around 90 cents per can in ten packs, and they were never less than 70 cents per can.

The delta smelt is just the excuse that's being given for the fact that California's politicians have been bought by California's water barons, and Governerd Moonbeam has been using that excuse to line his pockets as well as the pockets of his political allies.

Governerd Newtsome also likes getting paid, BTW.

Apparently they too have most of the water and all of the power. :-)

she said: said...

I'm not sure now many "water Barrons" there still are. Our creeks have been dry for years. All the water now is being held at the damns. We almost ran dry a handful of years ago.

As for Arm. I can't tell if they are profitable because if they were, why would Softbank sell it? The Nvidia/ARM connection is not surprising at all. Softbank accounted for a 100 percent bump in their stock. They took a very large position in Nvidia.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure where you're finding the connection between the dams, the smelt and the dying trees. The dams aren't keeping the trees from getting water, just (usually) slowing down the flows in the rivers. By the time the water gets to the delta, it's hundreds of miles downhill from the Sierra, and wouldn't get to any forests anyway. It's not like we can pump it back up the mountains.

We need to do a lot more prescribed burning than we have, but it's hard to find a time where conditions keep prescribed burns from getting out of control. It's also hard to do it in such a way that our air quality doesn't suffer regularly, instead of occasionally.

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

"... why would Softbank sell it?"

Because SoftBank is losing money on their other investments?

Because Masayoshi the Enabler can't admit he fucked up with WeWork and keeps throwing money at it to save face?

Because a holding company behaves like a holding company despite also having a similarly named mobile telecoms company under the holding company umbrella?

Because someone got to Masayoshi the Enabler and told him that it'd be one hell of a screw job for the Chinese? (You scratch our back, we won't tell the world what happened in that hotel in Shibuya, wink wink, nudge nudge.)

Mix and match, create your own flavor! :-)

"I'm not sure now many "water barons" there still are ..."

You may remember a book I mentioned about the water barons called "Oligarch Valley". Here's the original much shorter version published by something called NSFWCORP.

I don't know if this film ever got made, but here's more from the author.

I've been to Victorville, but I didn't live there like this guy. Being there for a few hours during one of their droughts made me wonder just how a place could become that fucked up.

That "shit farm" that LA wanted exists now, BTW.

Also: fuck pistachios.

I'm allergic to the fucking things.

she said: said...

No. We need to flat out log like we used to, combined with control burns. . Even native Americans used control burns.

"While Native Americans used the land, intervals between fires are thought to have been between 11-15 years. After 1850, when Europeans occupied the region, fire frequency diminished and fire suppression practices began. This has caused a build-up of understory forest debris, which now can contribute to causing the large, catastrophic fires we have seen in recent years." .

But people want to use trees as a weapon. It's intellectually lazy.

The damns are not the problem. You are misunderstanding me. The problem is that almost every single year we get more than 100% of our rainfall. Yet our damns practically ran dry five years ago because of those fish and them sending water to the ocean to save them. . Consequently they stopped water releases and tons of areas that had small creeks dried up. Like my town for example. That puts all those trees that those small creeks cared for at risk all the way down the system. It's a knock on effect.

And here is a crazy thought. Maybe the lack of control burns is creating a drought.

These woodlands—thick with fragrant trees and foliage—are havens for campers and wildlife. But for many years, land management and wildfire suppression practices have resulted in more trees than occur under natural conditions. These thick masses of trees, while creating a peaceful environment, serve as fuel for devastating wildfires caused by sources such as lightning strikes and human carelessness.

People need to stop being crazy about trees. The only reason we can't do control burns anymore is because they have let too much fuel build up. Would you rather have occasional bad air quality or a month of seriously bad air quality? Because apparently we are at the stage of "oh well... we just can't do anything about it". So sad when people houses burn down. A forest and houses burning down is better for the environment than having some mild bad air quality.

Anonymous said...

"The damns are not the problem. You are misunderstanding me. The problem is that almost every single year we get more than 100% of our rainfall. Yet our damns practically ran dry five years ago because of those fish and them sending water to the ocean to save them. . Consequently they stopped water releases and tons of areas that had small creeks dried up. Like my town for example. That puts all those trees that those small creeks cared for at risk all the way down the system. It's a knock on effect."

Sorry, but I'm still not following your logic.

First, we don't get more than 100% of our rainfall in most years (at least while I've been around). The most recent big tree die off, in which the bark beetles killed millions of pines, was due to the drought from 2011 to 2017. That was six consecutive years of subnormal rains.

Second, my understanding is that the water releases for the delta (not just the smelt, which are a mere proxy for the overall health of that ecosystem) mostly came from from the major dams in the Sierra. I'm not sure how many dams in your area have flows that reach the delta or otherwise participated in those releases. If I'm right, it seems like the releases would have had little to do with your local creeks drying up. Are you saying that the groundwater draft was increased to offset the decreased availability of surface water? I know that happened in much of the S.J. Valley, but wasn't aware it affected you in, what, Hayward or Fremont?

I don't know what would have happened if the delta releases were curtailed. Presumably, we would have seen more salt water intrusion contaminating water supplies in towns near the Carquinez Straits. That did happen before the accord providing for the releases. Other effects may have been as bad or worse.

I seriously can't imagine how the lack of prescribed burning could create or even contribute to drought, but I'd enjoy understanding your reasoning.

I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I have to wonder whether, in this case, you've confused causation with correlation.

she said: said...

"The most recent big tree die off, in which the bark beetles killed millions of pines, was due to the drought from 2011 to 2017. That was six consecutive years of subnormal rains."

That is not true.

2016-2017 <-- Well above average

2015-2016 <---- Average to well above, in the North, not so much in the South. But who cares because the South doesn't matter in this conversation.

2014- 2015  <---- record low year for rainfall. I can't find the handy graph like the other years.

2013 - 2014 <---- driest in history Same with the chart.

2012 - 2013 - <--- Below average. Easy graph also missing or I'm missing it.

2011 - 2012 - <--below average.

2009-2010 - <---- Before the drought. Above average in almost all places.

2018-2019 - <---- after the drought. well above average.

2017-2018 - <-- below average.

You'd honestly be surprised at how often we get above average rainfall. It's not every year, but possibly about half. I'm not going to go through all the years because it takes a lot of work.

"I seriously can't imagine how the lack of prescribed burning could create or even contribute to drought, but I'd enjoy understanding your reasoning."

Because there are more trees now than would occur naturally due to fire suppression efforts. That water is in the trees and not the ground. If nature had it's way, those lightening fires would have burnt all the way to Washington probably with the fuel load we have. I don't know if I completely believe that's a real thing, but more of a thought experiment. 

"The Great Fire of 1910 — believed to be the biggest fire in recorded American history — burned 3 million acres across Washington, Idaho and Montana and killed 86 people. It also helped remake U.S. Forest Service policy. The agency ordered that all forest fires be extinguished as soon as possible, minimizing flames that for centuries had renewed the forests.

It goes on to say....

The state’s determination historically to squelch fires quickly has left forests choked with trees. One researcher in the Sierra Nevada range found records from 1911 showing 19 trees per acre in one section of the giant Stanislaus National Forest, compared to 260 trees per acre a century later. (The study counted trees more than 6 inches in diameter.)"

"I'm not trying to be argumentative, but I have to wonder whether, in this case, you've confused causation with correlation."

Reasonable people can have disagreements. You've been completely fine. I don't think you are trying to be argumentative. If I make a statement I should have to show a thought process if challenged. It doesn't bother me.

I'm not going to comment on the intricacies of the delta and desalination because I don't live up there and I'm sure there are some nuances that I'm not aware of.

Anonymous said...

We agree the delta situation is complicated. Having spent years dealing with water issues in the Central Valley, I still don't feel like I fully understand it.

FWIW, I was on the river near Rio Vista one afternoon when they turned on the pumps. It reversed the flow of the river, so the current ran faster upstream than it had down. It's hard to believe a properly managed tunnel would be worse.

We also agree that the current number of trees per acre is excessive, by historical standards. That provides more fuel and makes the fires more catastrophic, but I'm not sure I buy the suggestion that more trees make the forests more dangerous because there's less water in the soil. I'd think it's usually the trees that burn catastrophically, rather than the soil.

We also agree that different parts of the Sierra get different amounts of rainfall. During the years in question, I spent a lot of time driving around the central Sierra. The tree die back was attributed to the (mostly) dry years from 2011 to 2017, when the trees in that area became sufficiently stressed that they couldn't withstand the bark beetles. The number of brown evergreens increased dramatically in just a few years - more than I'd ever seen, and I spent much of my child- and early adulthood in those mountains.

Several foothill-dwelling friends were shocked by the number of dying conifers they had to fell on their properties, I think in 2017, saying they'd never experienced anything like it. (These were more bark beetle fatalities.) They've been in the transition zone between oak/grasslands and pine forests. I think that zone is moving uphill, so they may lose most of their pines.

By contrast, the more northerly Sierra forests don't seem to have changed a whole lot over all the years I've been visiting them.

I've read articles that suggest the first nations' fire management may have done more harm than good, but I don't know enough to have an opinion.

We're absolutely agreed that the last century's fire suppression practices were counterproductive.

Have a great evening, and enjoy the cleaner air while we have it.

she said: said...

"We also agree that the current number of trees per acre is excessive, by historical standards. That provides more fuel and makes the fires more catastrophic, but I'm not sure I buy the suggestion that more trees make the forests more dangerous because there's less water in the soil. I'd think it's usually the trees that burn catastrophically, rather than the soil. "

(smile) I prefaced my theory with - it's a crazy thought. But all that extra tree mass can't be good for our ground water tables. It's not just the rivers and streams. Right? I don't know where ground water lives honestly.

My city is losing a ton of pines as well. Also in the Bay Area proper. I don't know if it's lack or water or Beatles. I just don't know enough about the properties they are on to comment. I just notice a lot of them caving.

"Have a great evening, and enjoy the cleaner air while we have it."

You too. You have been lovely.

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

So basically if California would pulp all of the dead or soon-to-be-dead wood and turn it into coffee cups for the world over the next twenty years, the problem would eventually be fixed?

I suppose bleaching the pulp will also solve the problem of the occasional tree hugger thrown into the chipper ...

*ahem*

Yeah, Europe has more than its share of ecotards as well.

Why do you think I bitch so much about RoHS lead-free solder?

It's like the complete opposite of the tree problem: there is zero evidence to show that lead leaches out of lead solder and all kinds of evidence to show that it remains sequestered in solder alloys.

The only thing the Eurocrap solder is good for is mounting BGAs.

Fortunately there are abundant loopholes that are used abundantly, of course.

she said: said...

"So basically if California would pulp all of the dead or soon-to-be-dead wood and turn it into coffee cups for the world over the next twenty years, the problem would eventually be fixed?"

Well.... it could be houses too. Have you seen the price of lumber right now? They estimate that it's adding 16 grand to the price of building a new house right now.

"Why do you think I bitch so much about RoHS lead-free solder?"

Oh no. We've got one of those too. Lead was a huge deal here probably in the same time frame. (2008) It used to drive me crazy because unless you ingest lead it isn't a problem. But one crazy person went on a crusade. And it was literally one person. They did stories about lead almost every day on the old people news. She made it seems like we were all sucking on lead sinkers. She made it so you couldn't put lead in jewelry or anything.

It's amazing what one person with nothing but time not heir hands can do.

Capital of Texas Refugee said...

"Have you seen the price of lumber right now?"

In North America? No, but there's no shortage here.

The EU's WEEE regulations are horrible enough that the sensible thing to do is to use every loophole for all it's worth.

Such as this one: if you sell to EU companies that can provide you with a VAT number, just as long as your product is one of several types that are allowed for B2B sale, you can sell products made with lead solder in the EU.

Remember "you are not the target market" and all that jazz?

The Swiss version when selling to the EU is "no VAT number, no sale".

Compliance is more expensive than giving the WEEE regulators a big "fuck you" this way.

"She made it seem like we were all sucking on lead sinkers ..."

YOU WOULDN'T MANUFACTURE A POTATO GUN
THAT FIRES POTATOES WITH EMBEDDED LEAD SINKERS

... oh yes I would ...

But I still prefer armor piercing radishes.