Western USA Drought

Move along, nothing to see here!
theanimal
Posts: 1292
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by theanimal » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:06 am

@ffj- There were high winds in the area and they shut off power to avoid any chance of trees falling on the lines and starting a fire. So they shut off power.

Most of your questions are answered in the article but...That'd be one busy ambulance route. A lot of the smaller health care facilities had a tough situation as they didn't have a backup power source. Per Jacob's article, at least one person died from their oxygen source being disrupted. It also discusses how many of these people were not contacted by PG&E, instead finding out when their oxygen supply went out in the middle of the night.

Businesses weren't exempt.

jacob
Site Admin
Posts: 11392
Joined: Fri Jun 28, 2013 8:38 pm
Location: USA, Zone 5b, Koppen Dfa, Elev. 620ft, Walkscore 73
Contact:

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by jacob » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:14 am

@ffj - Windy conditions risking fires from downed power lines is the official explanation/excuse. PG&E is currently in bankruptcy proceedings over the Camp Fire (Paradise) which was blamed on one of their transformers. So likely it's some kind of corporate liability game ... and maybe the lawyers told them that's it's better to be safe than sorry.

Apparently some were warned but not all---depending on whether they were registered as medical baseline customers or not. Also some didn't pay attention to the warning or thought it didn't apply to them/their area. About 500k people were affected and some places were without power for more than two days which is pushing the battery on some of those devices (like oxygen machines/nitrogen scrubbers). Also people getting stuck on stair lifts and other "stupid" stuff. One person died ... https://apnews.com/5eb4e0c1fd844ea2bc51d8dfbda5aae1 ... for everybody else it was hopefully a wake up call.

According to locals the TV stations out there have been running constant ads for gen sets for the past three months. The mind boggles.

Add: theanimal beat me to it.

tonyedgecombe
Posts: 261
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:11 pm
Location: Oxford, UK
Contact:

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by tonyedgecombe » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:32 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:41 am
It just amazes me how some folks can look at markets distorted to the edge of functionality by government interference, and then endorse more government control.
If you eliminate the market then you eliminate many, possibly most of the distortions. That's not to say there is an infinite supply of money and services, rather that it isn't screwed up by some corporation trying to expand its profits.

Seppia
Posts: 1092
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Seppia » Sun Oct 13, 2019 10:45 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:41 am
It just amazes me how some folks can look at markets distorted to the edge of functionality by government interference, and then endorse more government control.
Why are you amazed? More government control seems to work much better in those specific areas.
Riggerjack wrote:
Sun Oct 13, 2019 9:41 am
How functional are those systems you enjoy, on a balanced budget? It's a lot easier (and popular!) to extend service, if one can pay the bills with I.O.U.'s.
Pretty much all the metrics indicate that the American system is super shitty in terms of “value for dollar”.

Find the outlier in this graph:
https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/life ... xpenditure

I am a huge admirer of the USA, and all things considered it would be my #1 choice to spend the rest of my life by a pretty significant margin, but the heath are system is broken, and the cause is certainly not “too much government”, as all functioning healthcare systems across the globe are heavily controlled by the state.

There are some areas of the economy where either
1- reasoning in terms of “return of investment” or “profits” is not the point and is actually counterproductive (healthcare)
2- the return on investment is so far out in the future that only governments see the interest. No private enterprise would build public roads, or just think about the French TGV project:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV
Started in 1966, operational in 1981, IIRC broke even somewhere in the late nineties, when France started selling the technology across the globe.
Now a major source of profits for the French state.
No private enterprise would embark in a project that takes thirty years to break even

Riggerjack
Posts: 2688
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:42 am

Sorry, I got busy yesterday.

Seppia, in many ways, we agree.

The US healthcare system sucks. So would you now like to compare your national parks to our Superfund sites? I'm sure you could do that in a way that similarly makes Italy shine.

I will agree that socialism is likely to produce a power grid that is comparably efficient to a government assigned monopoly. This seems like a low bar.

I have no issue with Italy, it's fine healthcare system, nor high speed rail between former city states.

My issue is scale, control, miscommunication and misdirection. All of these factors come into play when government and corporations rub together. Italy simply doesn't have the scale to run into the problems I am talking about, at the level I am talking about. What little it has, seems like more than it can deal with. But I am an ignorant American, and only know what I have been told about Italy.

As to whether the state should be investing in projects that take 30 years to break even, this just shows me I don't understand your point. That now it has broken even tells me it was far from an ideal resource allocation, so far from ideal, in fact, that government was required to make it happen. You wouldn't have spent YOUR money that way, how does being forced to spend your money make it a better investment? Everything is a trade-off. What wasn't done with those Euros?

We in the Greater Seattle area have The Sounder, a low speed light rail system that runs on BNSF tracks, 4 times a day. If the trains run at full capacity, the cost per passenger/trip is $54. The fare is $9. Would that math work in Italy? Should we have doubled down somehow?

I'm not anti-government. I am for moving control and decisions closer the the information needed to make those decisions. I'm for smaller scale, more localized decision making, more accountability for results. There's just no part of government (or corporations, for that matter) that ticks any of those boxes...

tonyedgecombe
Posts: 261
Joined: Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:11 pm
Location: Oxford, UK
Contact:

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by tonyedgecombe » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:18 am

@Riggerjack Perhaps your politicians should stop spending their time telling people how bad government is and instead try and fix these issues which seem to be peculiar to America.

Riggerjack
Posts: 2688
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:43 am

Well, Tony, that's an idea. To hear them talking about it, one would think it's on the agenda.

Personally, I don't think it's possible, regardless of who holds office. The issues we have, we have inherited. They were created when trying to fix other problems, and those solutions were made using assumptions of unlimited growth, and management techniques that peaked at photocopies and printing presses.

We can't solve problems with the same level of thinking that created the problems.

Seppia
Posts: 1092
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Seppia » Mon Oct 14, 2019 10:52 am

Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:42 am
My issue is scale, control, miscommunication and misdirection. All of these factors come into play when government and corporations rub together. Italy simply doesn't have the scale to run into the problems I am talking about, at the level I am talking about. What little it has, seems like more than it can deal with. But I am an ignorant American, and only know what I have been told about Italy.
I do not understand. I was talking about Europe, which is roughly comparable in size, population and climate to the USA.
Riggerjack wrote:
Mon Oct 14, 2019 8:42 am
As to whether the state should be investing in projects that take 30 years to break even, this just shows me I don't understand your point. That now it has broken even tells me it was far from an ideal resource allocation, so far from ideal, in fact, that government was required to make it happen. You wouldn't have spent YOUR money that way, how does being forced to spend your money make it a better investment? Everything is a trade-off. What wasn't done with those Euros?
This is where we fundamentally seem to disagree.
Subsidizing services for those who cannot pay for them is the whole point of paying taxes.
If you had to charge people for public road usage, most people could not afford them.
You talk about the $9 ride that has an operating cost of $54, but what about the $0 roads people in the USA use every day? these do have a cost right?
How long did it take the government to break even on the construction of the highway network in the USA (assuming they do)?

Riggerjack
Posts: 2688
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Oct 14, 2019 11:26 am

No, nobody breaks even on roads. We pay a consumption tax on gas at national, state,and local rates, and a bit comes from tolls, but out west, we aren't very tolerant of tolls...
I do not understand. I was talking about Europe, which is roughly comparable in size, population and climate to the USA.
Well, yes and no.

The EU has several cultural/historical factors that make a difference.

First, each nation was complete before the Union, so the amount of central solutions is limited by national interests in ways that are foreign to Americans. Think of how much gets done at the EU level, which would be roughly comparable to Federal level, here. And how smooth and efficient those regulations are. Structurally, the EU is similar to the way the states would be set up had the civil war gone the other way. The EU is inherently a more localized structure than what we use.

Also, post war Europe was shaped by different forces (rebuilding is different from building). Our lives are far more centralized, built on systems designed around industrial scale, and designed to be administered at that scale. At a time when the advantage of efficiency of scale was the biggest idea around, and when we hadn't worked out the costs of logistics and coordination.

We now have the tech to allow for smaller, more efficient, better coordinated systems. But we choose to pretend the two choices are a centralized capitalist system, or a centralized socialist system. Like there's a lot of difference... :roll:

Try to remember that I was the one beating up on our system in detail, to start this derailing...

ZAFCorrection
Posts: 198
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by ZAFCorrection » Fri Oct 18, 2019 6:50 pm

http://theconversation.com/in-fire-pron ... nce-119451

Someone proposed the affordable care act for wildfire insurance. Also like the affordable care act, detailed cost controls are to be specified at a later date.

User avatar
TheWanderingScholar
Posts: 575
Joined: Thu Dec 30, 2010 12:04 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by TheWanderingScholar » Fri Oct 18, 2019 9:45 pm

@ZAFCorrection: A cost controls measure that would work, imo, is to handle it like the they are starting to handle it like coastal cities in the SE in path of hurricanes: take the buyouts or risk your livelihood on being uninsured. Reason for that is at a certain point it becomes a burden for the state to actually support these problems especially as environmental disasters become more common.

Campitor
Posts: 873
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Campitor » Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:31 am

The US helps subsidize European defense and healthcare. Without the USA helping in this respect, many social programs may not exist in Europe. It's easy to have universal <insert socially desirable program here> when the military defense and pharmaceutical/biomedical R&D is being subsidized by US activity. If Europe suddenly had to foot 100% of its R&D and NATO budget, would they still be able to provide the services to their citizens without any cutbacks or increase in taxes when faced with a 400 to 500 billion increase in defense spending and a 97 to 150 billion medical R&D hole?

https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2019/05/ ... -u-s-help/
https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/2017/nsf17317/

In regards to the Western drought, my western brethren have my sympathies. But if I'm being honest, the west is an arid/semi-arid region and has always been susceptible to droughts and fires. I live in the northeast and I expect blizzards, northeasters, and black ice. Droughts happen in the west and Blizzards happen in the east. Either we build the needed infrastructure to weather these events (pun intended) or we drink a cup of stoic-juice and work to mitigate it by means within our individual control.

George the original one
Posts: 4809
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by George the original one » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:00 pm

Campitor wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 12:31 am
But if I'm being honest, the west is an arid/semi-arid region and has always been susceptible to droughts and fires.
Man, that's news to those of us living in the temperate rain forest of western Oregon & Washington! My county averages 87" of rainfall per year.

George the original one
Posts: 4809
Joined: Wed Jul 28, 2010 3:28 am
Location: Wettest corner of Orygun

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by George the original one » Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:16 pm

By the way, it's interesting to note how climate change is affecting annual rainfall amounts. Nice maps here: https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/ ... -us-states
https://www.climatecentral.org/gallery/ ... cip-events

theanimal
Posts: 1292
Joined: Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:05 pm
Location: Gates of the Arctic
Contact:

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by theanimal » Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:07 pm

They left out AK and HI. I can't speak for HI but Southcentral and southeast AK are experiencing less rain. Southeast experienced first official drought this year (note: this area is a rainforest!). Interior and Northern AK have higher rainfall totals.

Campitor
Posts: 873
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2015 11:49 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Campitor » Sun Oct 20, 2019 1:39 am

George the original one wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:00 pm
Man, that's news to those of us living in the temperate rain forest of western Oregon & Washington! My county averages 87" of rainfall per year.
https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/ ... tation.php - Depending where you live, average rain fall is 10". I know the Pacific Northwest contains one the largest temperate rain forests in the world but that doesn't negate the fact the most of the Western USA is an arid or semi arid zone: https://www.currentresults.com/Weather/ ... tation.php. Expect droughts and fires - its been happening for 3000 years.

https://www.pnas.org/content/109/9/E535:

Mean annual temperature (MAT) and summer drought (drought-area index, DAI) were summarized in a similar fashion to the charcoal data (see Methods) and also show a general downward trend, at least until the early 1800s (Fig. 2 A–D). The long-term decline in fire is also evident for the 1,500 y prior to the beginning of the joint record at 500 CE (Fig. 3). Superimposed on this trend are several large and generally parallel variations in biomass burning and fire frequency (i.e., “fire activity”) during the past 2,000 y (Fig. 2 C and D). Fire activity was high at 1000, 1400, and 1800 CE, and low at 900, 1600, and 1900 CE. The rise in fire at 1000 CE occurred at the beginning of the MCA, when temperatures (MAT) and drought area (DAI) were both high. Biomass burning remained high for at least two centuries during the MCA (from 750 to 1000 cal y CE), whereas fire frequency declined at 1100 CE. Another increase in fire activity occurred at the beginning of the LIA around 1400 CE, when drought increased rapidly. Biomass burning reached its late Holocene minimum during the LIA, and fire-episode frequency was also low at this time, although it is presently lower. The decline in fire activity during the LIA occurred as drought declined and temperatures reached their 1,500-y minimum (Fig. 2 E and F). Similar trends and centennial-scale variability in climate and fire until the 1800s suggests that baseline levels of fire activity in the West were predominantly controlled by climate.

And the wetness of your area won't protect you from the Cascade earthquake that hits Oregon every 500 years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1700_Cascadia_earthquake.

Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA's Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, put it quite dramatically: "Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast."[18]

Recent findings conclude that the Cascadia subduction zone is more complex and volatile than previously believed. In 2010, geologists predicted a 37 percent chance of an M8.2+ event within 50 years, and a 10 to 15 percent chance that the entire Cascadia subduction zone will rupture with an M9+ event within the same time frame.[19][20] Geologists have also determined the Pacific Northwest is not prepared for such a colossal quake. The tsunami produced could reach heights of 80 to 100 feet (24 to 30 m).[21]


Nature is ruthless - stuff happens. Fires and droughts, blizzards and northeasters, floods and tornadoes. Everyone gets a turn in the pickle barrel.

Kylinne
Posts: 16
Joined: Tue Oct 08, 2019 2:27 pm
Location: Los Angeles, CA

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Kylinne » Wed Oct 30, 2019 6:59 pm

George the original one wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 6:00 pm
Man, that's news to those of us living in the temperate rain forest of western Oregon & Washington! My county averages 87" of rainfall per year.
Not to mention that central California used to be all wetlands, as did large parts of SoCal - the Los Angeles basin was 14,000 acres of wetlands, with oaks and seasonal streams elsewhere. It didn't get a lot of rain, but there was huge runoff from the snowfall every year. It's why both were/are such huge farming area - there is/was a ton of snowmelt available. Of course, then they built a ton of dams and turned the rivers into concrete to control flow, and now the central valley is sinking up to half a foot a year from the depletion of the groundwater and most of the original wetlands and scrub oaks in SoCal are now parking lots.

Riggerjack
Posts: 2688
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:09 am

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by Riggerjack » Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:24 am

central California used to be all wetlands, as did large parts of SoCal - the Los Angeles basin was 14,000 acres of wetlands, with oaks and seasonal streams elsewhere.
Well, this comes down to how one defines wetlands. But yes, our current and past farming and development practices are disastrous.

But I hear we can fix all of that with a high speed rail line. :twisted:

ZAFCorrection
Posts: 198
Joined: Mon Aug 14, 2017 3:49 pm

Re: Western USA Drought

Post by ZAFCorrection » Thu Oct 31, 2019 1:25 pm

@Rigger

I grew up in the central valley and the bits around where I grew up that aren't farmed definitely meet the classical definition of wetland - e.g. standing water most of the year (before the drought, anyway), reeds everywhere, waterfowl, way too humid in the summer. A goodly number of plots of land that hadn't been set up with good drainage also turned into shallow ponds during the rainy season. I can't speak for what the farmed portion was before farming.

It might seem counter-intuitive that a place that doesn't get all the much rain and is suffering water over-utilization can also have wetlands, but I think that speaks more to how well the water drains through the soil rather than an abundance of water.

Post Reply