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August 01, 2014 11:44 AM California’s Exceptional Drought

By Ed Kilgore

I didn’t need to read this report by Emily Atkin from ThinkProgress to understand the “exceptional” drought afflicting California:

California’s drought has reached levels so high and widespread that it’s now the most severe drought ever recorded by the federal government in the state, according to new data released Thursday.
The U.S. Drought Monitor, which began issuing drought reports in 1999, showed that the majority of the state is now in the worst category of drought conditions. Specifically, roughly 58 percent of California is considered to be in “exceptional drought” — a category marked by dark red in the picture below — which is the most severe of five drought categories.
“I think we’re looking at a once in a generation type of event,” National Drought Mitigation Center climatologist Mark Svboda told Andrew Freedman at Mashable.

On the Monterey Peninsula, not at the worst-hit area of the state, it’s gotten rather grim. In 2013, the usual winter monsoon rains never arrived. This year there were a few winter rains, but far below the normal levels. While in Georgia the last two weeks, during the daily rains my wife and I jokingly asked each other: “What is this water falling from the skies?” But it’s not really funny.

The severity of the drought now is also increasingly threatening the state’s $44.7 billion agricultural industry, the Drought Monitor noted, saying California’s topsoil moisture reserves are “nearly depleted.” It’s impacting people’s lives, too — earlier this month, California agreed to impose fines of up to $500 on residents who were caught doing things like washing cars with running hoses, watering lawns during the hottest parts of the day, and letting water from outdoor sprinklers run down sidewalks. Some Californians are even taking to social media to call out and shame neighbors and businesses that are wasting water.

Now perhaps Victor Davis Hanson has figured out how to blame the drought on “liberals” or “coastal elites” who laugh, laugh, laugh at the misery of po’ folks. But here’s a more plausible explanation:

The latest report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a conservative panel which draws from the expertise of more than 800 scientists around the world, said it is “more likely than not” that man-made global warming is causing longer and more intense droughts in many regions, including the American Midwest and California. Climate change has also been shown to worsen Western droughts, even if it doesn’t reduce precipitation.

But I guess this is a vicious lie based on pagan pseudo-science promulgated by power-mad regulators. Some people will cherish their delusions even if the land they live on dries up and blows away.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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