Friday, October 8, 2010

Water Politics and Physics

© 2010 Joshua Stark.

Okay, so with little exception, the California debates for governor and senator ran their courses as expected.  And for all the listening I did, I only found one environmental reference worthy of note, but not in a good way.

I'm sure you've all heard that Meg Whitman employed a woman to work in her house for 9 years, and it turns out that the woman didn't have her papers in order to work here.  I'll brush past that, except to say, "duh!"  I think it's obvious that wealthy people hire undocumented housekeepers as a status symbol. 

But on to the environmental comment.  In the first Whitman-Brown debate, Ms. Whitman stepped into a time-honored tradition in California politics:  offering the promise of more water.

That's right, Meg Whitman promised more water.

I believe it was about two-thirds through the debate, when one of the moderators brought up the Peripheral Canal.  Ms. Whitman took it and ran with it right in the direction I knew she'd go.  She said that the Central Valley's current economic woes were due to the overzealous environmental regulations (or some such thing), and that the peripheral canal was a perfect example of a jobs-building, environmental savior.  Then, she contracted something, a condition I've heard called "diarrhea of the mouth", in which she couldn't stop herself from explaining the benefits of this grand scheme.  She worked herself up into such a state that she had to finish where she did, as horrific as I'm sure it had become in her head.  She ended by claiming that the peripheral canal would provide more water for the environment and more water for agriculture. 

I can imagine the little voice in her head, "okay, you've made a great point about jobs (although it isn't true, and the poor Central Valley will always be a feudal state), so wrap it up.  Okay, bring it in bring it home... wait, wrap it up!  Arrghh!  Stop talking!  No, don't promise them more wa... well, crap."

Ms. Whitman is surely smart enough to realize that a new river bed, no matter how it is designed, will only provide the water that runs from its sources, and cannot provide any new water.  Ms. Whitman has got to be cognizant of the fact that weather and climate determine precipitation, and that one concrete conveyance cannot do one thing to increase our rainfall and snow pack. 

It would have been one thing to say that the Central Valley needs the jobs that more water provides.  I'd have slammed it, but at least it is within the realm of physics.  But to promise a magical transformation?  Pretty bad, pretty amateurish, and perfectly, politically, Californian.


NorCal Cazadora said...

Hey, if the Fed can print money, why can't we make water? You're such a hater, Josh.

Josh said...

I know, I'm a total A-hole.