Thomas Gallatin / January 16, 2023

California’s Avoidable Ecological Woes

The Golden State’s water woes could have been avoided if logical infrastructure projects had not been abandoned decades ago.

California seems to be a state continually swinging between ecological extremes. During the hot, dry summer months, wildfires rage across the Golden State. When seasons change to fall and winter, it’s swollen rivers and mudslides wreaking havoc.

The state has recently experienced a slew of heavy rainstorms that have caused significant flooding. Record amounts of rain have doused the state, and yet, due to severe summer droughts, the precipitation is not enough to make up the difference and refill depleted reservoirs.

California’s chronic water shortage problem is nothing new, yet environmentalists eagerly point to the severity of drought season and predictably blame it on man-made climate change. The truth is that California’s weather patterns have always been cyclical in nature, with some summers being hotter and dryer than others, and some winters being wetter.

The state’s water troubles have less to do with the Left’s politically convenient excuse of climate change and much more to do with state officials bowing to the demands of environmental activists and failing to build any new significant water collection infrastructure in 40 years. Meanwhile, the state’s population has grown exponentially, increasing water demand.

So, as massive amounts of rain are currently being dropped on the drought-weary state, the vast majority — some 80% of it — will simply run off into the Pacific Ocean. Californians have environmental activists to thank for this lack of preparation.

Even Governor Gavin Newsom is lamenting the lack of progress on water collection infrastructure. He recently complained, “The time to get these dam projects (like Sites Reservoir) is ridiculous, absurd, and somewhat comedic.” Well, he’s right about it being ridiculous and absurd, as the Sites Reservoir project has been in the planning stages for over 60 years. But it’s taken so long thanks to politicians like Newsom, who have pandered and catered to environmentalist groups rather than make the sensible decisions to get the project done.

“Gavin has been in the grip of pro-scarcity Malthusian environmentalists his entire career,” observed Michael Shellenberger, founder of the Substack publication Public and a former gubernatorial candidate. “He hasn’t done what he’s needed to do to raise the heights of the reservoirs we have or build the new reservoirs we need.”

Rather than actually do anything, the Democrat politicians who have long been running the effectively single-party state blame climate change as justification to push their Big Government agenda, such as their electric vehicle mandate by 2035. The irony is that, as with wildfires, their agenda to “fight climate change” is actually making the problems worse.

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