Opinion: California and cloud seeding
CONNECTING THE DOTS
Free Press Opinion Columnist
Consequences of the persistent drought throughout the southwest are showing up at cash registers, just as the wild winter in the rest of the country has done.
For snow and cold, think MacDonald’s and fewer customers, simply because they couldn’t get to the stores. Automobiles, ditto; who wants to try out a new car when it’s 10 below with snow higher than the car, and icy roads everywhere?
California claims the driest year since the 1500s, and there’s no end in sight. It’s a disaster, heading straight for our own pocket books.
The San Joaquin Valley, in central California, produces about 12 percent of the fresh produce served on American tables, plus lots of cattle and sheep. California is the nation’s largest ag producer. The valley is California’s top agricultural producing region, growing more than 250 unique crops and much of the nation’s fruits, vegetables and nuts. Oh, and three quarters of California’s dairy cattle are located in the valley. (I’m sure you know that California is No. 1 in dairy production, too.)
Ag production is down 30-50 percent because of the lack of both rain and irrigation water; we can already see the squeeze as prices rise in our own supermarkets.
So yes, it’s our own “global economy” and it affects everyone in the Grand Valley.
With California in the third or fourth year of a harsh drought, and with no end in sight, it turns out that California has been snatching extra moisture from the storm clouds by cloud seeding.
And it’s just like we’ve been doing for years on Grand Mesa and throughout the Colorado River drainage! (As you know, both California and Arizona are big beneficiaries of that project, too.)
So on the telly the other day we saw that California has been seeding clouds with silver iodide crystals for 65 years with pretty good success. Of course, being California, some areas saved the money by not seeding when there were really nice storms; in this drought, there have been months with virtually no clouds at all.
Even so, they do claim they’ve had some success. It’s just that the state has only seen about 35 percent of the normal rainfall, the reservoirs are empty, and the rainy season is over.
I share this history just so you can appreciate that California has seen something like a 15 percent increase in moisture from the right storms in the right places — just like Grand Mesa and the Colorado basin.
For the West Coast and our grocery bills, just not so much this winter.
GJ Free Press columnist Ken Johnson is founder of the Grand Junction Free Press and former owner/publisher of The Daily Sentinel. He spends his time between the Grand Valley and California.
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