Desert after a wet Winter 

Green Desert, Saddleback Butte State Park, March 18, 2017

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Missing the old Pacific Electric 

A little transit nostalgia, courtesy of the Imagineers at Disney California Adventure.

Yeah, we should have spent the money on faster Red Cars operating on above- or below-grade tracks. We learned. We’re paying for the lesson now. Hindsight and all that.

Oroville Lake, November 2014

Photo by Lisa Pickoff-White/KQED
Photo by Lisa Pickoff-White/KQED

Food for thought as we watch the developments on the Feather River.

The contrast is a statement about California and our climate: there is a limit to our ability to consistently managed the rivers of a state that was forged on extremes of drought and flood. Sealing our canyons with concrete plugs leaves us with permanent damage to fisheries, forests, and habitat with very little benefit in return.

It is another sign that it is time for us to rethink our relationship with rivers, in California if not across the West.

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Ooo-Tah!

“Brigham Young led his band of social outcasts to the old bed of a drying desert sea and proclaimed, “This is the place!” This was the place? Someone in that first group must have felt that Young had become unhinged by two thousand horribly arduous miles.”

Marc Reisner
Cadillac Desert: The American West and its Disappearing Water

Good morning

Sitting down at my desk as the sun rises on a quiet coastal morning, a female Costa’s Hummingbird hovers outside my window, so close that I can almost touch it.

My camera is inches from my hand, but I stop, realizing that I’d scare her off with a sudden move.

So I just enjoy the moment, the tiny creature hovering just beneath the sun-dappled fronds of the palm, and time stands still.

The Private Life of the World’s Tallest Tree

Nature’s best kept secrets are tucked away in the spaces mostly untouched by human interference. That is why, up until 2006, no one knew of the world’s tallest tree, nicknamed “Hyperion”…

Source: The private life of Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree | Inhabitat – Green Design, Innovation, Architecture, Green Building

What does El Niño Really Mean for Us?

But besides providing Chris Farley in 1997 with one of his greatest Saturday Night Live skits ever, what do you really know about El Niño? We’ve broken down the science, gathered the best weather research, and talked to seasoned meteorologists to give you the ultimate insider intel on what to expect this winter across the United States.

Source: What Do You Need to Know About El Niño? These 10 Things. – The Weather – Curbed Ski

This is probably the best guide I’ve seen so far to what El Niño will mean to California, and on what conditions.

The Water Opportunity

Photo: Tim J. Keegan
Photo: Tim J. Keegan

Golden State | Issue 10 | n+1.

The water problem is part of a larger demographic problem: too many people have moved to California, a place that, given its resource constraints, its seismic instability, and its tendency toward massive brush fires, should have never been settled so densely.

Nikil Saval

Saval was writing about this five years ago, and it is tempting to buy his argument. Who among us longtime denizens of this state do not occasionally look out the window and wonder “from whence came these masses who cover our natural beauty with concrete and stucco?”

But laying the water problem at the feet of California’s outsized population does not lead us to a solution: if a quarter, or even a third of the state’s current headcount decamped for greener pastures, we would still have crippling droughts.

The water problem is one of global proportions, and the fact that a confluence of climactic conditions is foisting the drought on a fairly wet state should be seen as a wake up call. For a large and growing cohort of the world’s population – even in the developed world – water is no longer a virtually-free and unlimited resource.

The answer is not to line up the Greyhounds and the U-Hauls and depopulating Suburbia Californicus. It is, rather, to put our imagination and our capital to work finding ways to cut waste and to make water use more efficient in every sector.

If we can do that, the water problem becomes an opportunity for our innovative, optimistic state to make the world a better place and get rich in the process. If the great minds of Silicon Valley and the moneyed mandarins of Sand Hill Road want to find a place to bet on the next boom, maybe our drought is the G-d or the Universe or whoever sending us a not-too-subtle signal on where to look.

Forget biotech. Forget social media. Let’s focus on WaterTech.

 

Friday at the Videos: A Ride on the Embarcadero Freeway

A Friday reminder of how things used to be: a 1984 video of a ride on the now-demolished and sometimes-missed Embarcadero Freeway, 3 minutes in each direction.

There are moments, driving up Third Street and then Kearney on my way to the Financial District, that I sorely miss the elevated, two-level concrete monstrosity. And then I have lunch outside on the Embarcadero, and I remember what an awful eyesore the thing was.

Not everything an earthquake does is a bad thing. Sometimes Nature does for us what we should have done for ourselves.