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Environment & Science

California Drought News: Poll finds drought's a big deal, but not worth spending money on (huh?)



It's looking like another El Niño this year. The maps above show the ten-day average of sea surface height centered on May 2, 1997 (left), which was a big El Niño year, and May 3, 2014. Red and orange indicate where the water is warmer and above normal sea level. Blue-green show where sea level and temperatures are lower than average. Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.
It's looking like another El Niño this year. The maps above show the ten-day average of sea surface height centered on May 2, 1997 (left), which was a big El Niño year, and May 3, 2014. Red and orange indicate where the water is warmer and above normal sea level. Blue-green show where sea level and temperatures are lower than average. Normal sea-level conditions appear in white.
NASA JPL

Friday's news finds people to be mysterious and full of contradictions...but hopefully interested in one last drought news roundup before the weekend!

Despite widespread news coverage of the drought — one of the worst in recent decades — the state's major population centers have largely escaped severe mandatory rationing. Even agriculture, which as California's thirstiest sector is inevitably hit the hardest by drought, has partially compensated for reduced water delivery by pumping more groundwater. That has softened the drought's effect on many, apparently blunting the desire for drastic remedies and big spending on water projects.

Pollsters say the results spell trouble for a potential water bond this fall. The survey also doesn't bode well for climate science — revealing a sharp partisan divide about whether climate change has worsened the drought:

"I don't believe in climate change," said Republican Steve Bennett, 60, a contractor who lives in Martinez. "This is a semiarid state. I don't know when it's going to sink in — but we have real wet winters and then we have dry periods, and it's been that way forever." (Los Angeles Times)
In California, there has been hope that a strong El Niño could be a drought buster. The phenomenon is known for bringing wetter winters to Texas and southern California. They are also good news for Florida and the Caribbean, damping down the hurricane season in the Atlantic. (The Guardian)
"We continue to be confident that an El Niño will develop," said Mike Halpert, acting director of the Climate Prediction Center. But he added, "Maybe it's not looking like the '97-'98 event that a few folks thought a few months ago." (SF Gate)
"As winter snows melt and rains fill the aquifer each year, the enormous weight of the water pushes the Earth's crust downward beneath both the valley and the mountains," he said. "Then as pumping drains the aquifer, particularly in dry years, the crust springs upward — mountains, valleys and all - and the rocks rebound like elastic." (SF Gate)

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