ICYMI 5/11/22 Dreadful Drought, Junk Science in VAs

California summer: Why drought makes us scared, edgy, angry – Mercury News 5/9/22
The American Psychological Association describes climate anxiety, or eco-anxiety, as fear of environmental doom. In the Bay Area, it has become easy to believe in doomsday scenarios on days when wildfire smoke chokes the air with particulate matter and turns the sky an apocalyptic orange. Even before the onset of COVID-19, Bay Area residents began learning about sheltering in place from wildfire-necessitated Spare the Air alerts and days when air quality index maps turn scarlet and purple.

“It’s become drier and drier over the years, and it’s become pretty stressful,” says Monica Sain, a community college instructor who lives in Santa Clara. “I have asthma, so I feel this sense of dread when summer comes. There will be fires, and the air is going to be bad.”

The American West is primed for a summer of fire – Popular Science 5/6/22

This year reflects a broader transition in fire behavior across the US, as hotter days and more variable rainfall have let a relatively concentrated “fire season” in the West turn into year-round disasters and risk. But the months of June, July, and August are still particularly fire-prone. On May 1, the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) released its predictions of fire weather through August.

It’s important to note that the center can only forecast fire potential. “Whether you actually realize that potential is dependent on actual weather events,” says Jim Wallmann, a meteorologist at the NIFC. Windy days, lightning, and rain will all shape the actual season. “The bad news,” he says, is that during peak season will be “busy” from Wyoming to California.

The two largest reservoirs in California are already at ‘critically low levels’ and the dry season is just starting – CNN 5/7/22
Years of low rainfall and snowpack and more intense heat waves have fed directly to the state’s multiyear, unrelenting drought conditions, rapidly draining statewide reservoirs. And according to this week’s report from the US Drought Monitor, the two major reservoirs are at “critically low levels” at the point of the year when they should be the highest.
This week, Shasta Lake is only at 40% of its total capacity, the lowest it has ever been at the start of May since record-keeping began in 1977. Meanwhile, further south, Lake Oroville is at 55% of its capacity, which is 70% of where it should be around this time on average.

Collaborative Junk Science Is the Core of the Delta VA – Doug Obegi, NRDC, 5/9/22 
“Giving the contractors more say over science is problematic because the participating water districts – and the California Department of Water Resources — have a vested interest in trying to show that fish don’t need water so that they can divert ever more water from this imperiled watershed…
If you wouldn’t trust oil companies or tobacco companies to tell you what’s safe for the planet or your health, why would you trust these water agencies—which make their living selling water from the Bay-Delta and have spent the past two decade undermining environmental protections for salmon and other endangered species — to say what’s good for fish and wildlife in the Bay-Delta watershed?  Yet that’s what the voluntary agreements would do: further empower these water districts to decide what constitutes good science and how much water the environment needs, in the spirit of “collaboration.”  This is the kind of collaboration that results in the fox guarding the henhouse.”

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