Tag Archives: California

California Wild Fires Bad

My only remaining Republican friend, Paul Douglas, provided this information.

Considering the top 20 most destructive California fires from Cal Fire’s database, 6 of those have happened in the last 10 months.

The worse so far is the Tubbs Fire last October, and that was HUGE. Nearly 6,000 structures were burned, 22 people were killed. The sixth on the list is the Carr fire, with just under 1,500 structures burned and six killed as of this writing, but that fire is still burning.

I’ll just add this. There was a moment in time between about 2 and 3 years ago, when it was apparent to me and many others that fires were getting worse. But the data was just coming in. There were studies that stopped their data roughly a year or a year and a half earlier that showed no statistically convincing increase. The delay in data range is normal. You get your data, clean it up, then Reviewer three adds eight months to the publication process, etc. so most studies are one or maybe two years late. Anyway, I was being told over and over again that I was wrong whenever I talked about fires. Much of that came from those who were sufficiently in the game to pretend they were not denying climate change, but who chose to get into the contrarian game despite the huge moral cost of doing so.

Well, we were right. We told you so. Shame.

Eventually, of course, the wildfires will stop. Like the surgeons say, the bleeding always stops. Eventually. One way or another.

Stop fretting about the Feinstein – de Leon thing

In a recent “jungle primary” (all parties, all voters, and there but the grace of dog go the rest of us), long time us Senator Diane Feinstein resoundingly defeated fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon. But given that Feinstein has been a Senator representing the state since forever, the very idea of a challenge, and the very idea of a 51-33% victory, is a form of insurgency within the party. In this case, it is a progressive insurgency against a strong liberal. If you are outside the Liberal-Progressive zone, that might seem like cats fighting cats, but there is meaning to the differences. Liberals and Progressives all support the same policies, at the 20,000 foot level, but at the more detailed level, they are different. Both want health care for all. Liberals will tolerate a hybrid of insurance companies and some sort of Medicare for Everyone Else or a Public Option, while Progressives want nothing to do with the insurance companies and want a single payer. Or, depending on the individuals, Liberals and Progressives all want Universal Single Payer with no insurance companies, but Progressives want it now, and Liberals don’t think that is possible, and have more incremental plans.


Now, the California state Democratic party has had an endorsing event. You will see the following FALSEHOODS promulgated because of it:

  • Now that Berniebots/Progressives have added their own candidate to the race, the Democrats can’t win, this race
  • Progressives are going to throw Diane Feinstein out despite her great power and service and wondrfulness
  • Other similar things.

But, the truth is, the way the system works in California, there are exactly two people running in the general election for Senate: Feinstein and de Leon. There are no Republicans, do the Democrat will win.

Also, given that Feinstein cleaned de Leon’s clock in the primary, you can bet that she’ll win the general election as well. But, who knows, either one could win.

There is relevance to what is happening here. Within the California Democratic Party, progressives have suddenly developed a significant power base, quite possibly displacing both centrists and labor. If that is a bad thing, don’t worry. Given the primary system in California, they can’t do too much damage. If it is a good thing, then this is a real good thing, in my opinion, because we actually need to have more progressives, and we need to drop the centrist, incremental, line and be more strongly true to our values.

Personally, I’d like to see Feinstein stay to continue the fight against Trump. Personally, I’d like to see de Leon win, because we need to be shifting towards a more progressive landscape. Personally, I’d like to see the Republican lose this race, and that is going to happen for sure because there is no Republican in this race.

So everything in California is good. Stop whinging, y’all!

California Flood Worst Case Scenario (hypothetical yet real) UPDATED

Regarding the real storm hitting California right now, 30,000 are being urged to evacuate. There is more informaiton about that storm down at the bottom of the post.

Meanwhile, on the hypothetical worst case scenario for flooding in California…

If an ARkStorm were to come to the US West Coast, this is what the flooding in California could look like: Continue reading California Flood Worst Case Scenario (hypothetical yet real) UPDATED

Kevin de León to Challenge Dianne Feinstein

California Democratic state Senate president Kevin de León, a youngish progressive representing Los Angeles, and a strong Latino voice, is going to challenge Dianne Feinstein in the California Senatorial election. There will be primary, and the way things work in California, there could be any combination of candidates (across party) running against each other, including Feinstein and de León.

Feinstein is well liked and respected, but she is old-school, and still seems to believe in things like, Republicans can be talked to, and no matter how bad they are every single day, maybe some day one will do something that isn’t totally bone-headed and nefarious. It seems to be Senator Feinstein’s recent comment that maybe Trump could be a good president after all is the straw that set this particular camel’s back in motion, if you will pardon the mixing of metaphors. Also, Dianne Feinstein would be 91 in her last year in office, which is kind of old.

Personally, I think that some of Feinstein’s rhetoric is just the way Senators talk, they pretend things are normal when they are not, and they are all hauty tauty because they are the Senate, after all, and not the House.

One theory I’ve heard is that Feinstein, who is a bit old to run, will win, then in a year or so, step down and be replaced by an appointee of Jerry Brown. That is a really bad idea because it will be so obviously inside trading that it will backfire, and we don’t need that bad will going on right now. The best outcome is probably that de León simply wins. But, I’d love to hear from Californians what they think of all this?

California Levees In Trouble From Drought

What’s worse than months or years without rain? Rain, after months or years, at least under some circumstances.

For instance … it gets try, plants become vulnerable to fire. Fires happen denuding the dry landscape. Then it rains, and you get more severe floods together with landslides. You know the story because for years this has been the pattern in California.

But there is another roughly similar, or at least analogous, problem that is now being discussed. The levees that are mean to keep floodwaters contained in California were already in fairly bad shape. Prior to the drought, a significant number of levees were known to be at risk of failure should they actually get used. Many are thought unable to handle earthquakes as well.

But with the drought, several factors have probably made the levees weaker. This is an ongoing process and will continue as long as the drought continues.

From a letter to science, “Drought threatens California’s levees” by Farshid Vahedifard, Amir Aghakouchak, and Joe Robinson,

Prolonged droughts undermine the stability of levee systems by increasing water seepage through soil, soil cracking, soil strength reduction, soil organic carbon (SOC) decomposition, and land subsidence and erosion . The sand-clay mixtures, which form the body of the levees and consequently the entire structure, can lose a substantial amount of strength under dry conditions. Furthermore, levees in California are built on peaty soils, and the extreme drought leads to greater SOC decomposition in these soils. A large amount of the global carbon stock is found in peaty soils, and ~25% of this estimated stock is predicted to diminish under extremely dry conditions. Oxidation of SOC under a prolonged drought can also accelerate land subsidence. In fact, 75% of the land subsidence across California is accredited to oxidation of SOC. Land subsidence can increase the risk of water rising over the top of the levees.

This happened in Australia. Remember the big flooding a couple of years back? Some of that was made worse by levees failing, and those levees had been weakened by prolonged drought. So this is not theoretical.